What is a Floor Vacuum?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A floor vacuum is a vacuum cleaner which has been designed to be quickly and easily used on flooring. These vacuum cleaners usually have settings which can be adjusted for a variety of flooring types, and they come in a range of sizes, shapes, and styles. Most hardware stores stock floor vacuums, and this cleaning tool can be a very useful investment, especially in a house with carpeting.

Robotic floor vacuum.
Robotic floor vacuum.

Vacuum cleaners use motors to generate suction which pulls material up from the floor. A floor vacuum also has a set of brusher or beater bars which rotate rapidly as the vacuum is moved across the floor, pulling material up into the vacuum. On carpeting, the beater bars are designed to brush deeply into the carpet, pulling out dirt and fibers which might be difficult for the vacuum to remove on its own.

A man using a vacuum cleaner.
A man using a vacuum cleaner.

The upright vacuum is a familiar and basic floor vacuum style. Upright vacuums can have vacuum bags or canisters for dirt collection, and they are designed to be used in a standing position. Traditional canister vacuums consist of a canister which is rolled along the floor while a tube attached to a cleaning head is run along the flooring to remove unwanted material, while robotic floor vacuums can be turned on and released into a room to clean automatically.

A floor vacuum.
A floor vacuum.

Because different types of flooring require the beater bars to be at different heights, upright vacuums are usually adjustable, with hardwood and carpeting settings. For hardwood floors, the beater bars are lifted so that they do not scuff the floor, while for carpeting, they are lowered so that they will penetrate the carpet. The vacuum can also be adjusted for pile height.

The effectiveness of a floor vacuum varies widely. As a general rule, the more powerful the motor, the stronger the suction. Maintenance is also an important element in how useful a vacuum will be. If the belt is changed regularly and the filters are routinely cleaned, the vacuum will tend to be more effective. Emptying the canister or bag on a regular basis is also important, as is checking for obstructions in the vacuum which could block the suction.

Some floor vacuums come with a wand attachment which can be used to clean nooks and corners, and to clean shelving and other surfaces. The wand attachment snaps into the vacuum when not in use, and it can be a very useful feature.

Most floor vacuums have a setting for hardwood floors that raises the vacuum's beater bars so as not to scratch the wood.
Most floor vacuums have a setting for hardwood floors that raises the vacuum's beater bars so as not to scratch the wood.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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