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How to Buy a Used Vacuum & Getting the Best Value

Getting the Best Deal on a Used Vacuum

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When it comes to saving money on a vacuum purchase, a good used or reconditioned vacuum cleaner is often a great budget stretcher. However, it's buyer beware as with any consumer purchase and when it comes to vacuums, getting good value for your money depends a lot on how well you inspect the item before you buy it. These tips will teach you how to buy a used vacuum and what to check for to make sure your purchase is a good one.

Used or Reconditioned Vacuum:
  • While you can easily find reconditioned or refurbished vacuums on Ebay or Amazon, it doesn't guarantee a better buy than from a local yard sale, and buying without seeing/testing it is buying blind.
  • The term reconditioned can be deceiving - it can mean a basic cleaning by anyone or a full servicing that includes replacement parts by a qualified technician.
  • A qualified or factory reconditioning is best, though servicing detail is not often supplied. There are great savings to be had from buying a fairly new reconditioned item.
  • A factory reconditioned vacuum will often come with a short warranty period which affords some comfort, while with yard sale vacuums, you have no recourse should it break down within hours.
  • Private sales can often lead to super buys but knowing what to look for is the key, and why they are selling the vacuum can also provide a clue as to condition and value.
  • Whether you're looking for a reconditioned unit or a used vacuum from a private sale, the following tips can lead to a satisfactory purchase.
Value for Your Money:
  • Always insist on trying out a used vacuum. If a yard sale seller is serious about selling any appliance, they'll have electrical hook-up ready and be eager for you to try it out.
  • Learn about the types of vacuums available before you start looking. It will save you decision-making time while working on a deal.
  • Know what influences vacuum prices before you start looking so you can spot a bargain.
  • Compare vacuum prices to get an idea of what vacuums sell for when new.
  • Consider vacuum condition and approximate age when estimating value to get the best deal.
  • Buying a popular vacuum brand may make finding bags, filters or getting servicing easier.
Overall Vacuum Condition:
  • If the vacuum looks scarred and beaten, it can mean that it's fairly old or has been abused. It can also signal that routine maintenance such as bag and filter changes might have been neglected, which can cause motor damage.
  • A less than desirable appearance should reduce asking price.
  • Check suction against your hand. Lack of, or poor suction could mean a plugged vacuum or a crack in the hose, but it can also indicate bad performance.
  • Do not expect an old vacuum to have excellent suction.
Detection of Vacuum Exhaust Odors:
  • When the vacuum is running, do you detect any odors? If so, what kind of odor? If you can't tell, it could be a concern. Vacuums can harbor bacteria, pests, mold or allergens which can transfer to your home.
  • A mold or mildew smell can signal that a (non-wet)vacuum was used for wet cleaning, or the unit was in a flood. Either incident could have caused rust or damage to the motor, and the discharge of mold is a very serious health concern.
  • The smell of pet dander signals the presence of allergens which could be a concern if someone in your family has allergies or asthma.
  • A burning smell most likely hints at motor burn-out which means you would be looking at a motor replacement in the near future.
What Odd Noises Can Indicate:
  • Any departure from standard vacuum operating noise can mean problems with the motor, bearings or fan.
  • Power bars have their own motor which should also be checked for operating noises and condition.
  • Although there are a few quieter models, wet/dry vacuums tend to operate at a higher noise level than standard vacuums, and this is normal.
Condition of Components & Attachments:
  • Look for the presence of rust inside and outside.
  • Check the condition of the electrical cord, that the plug is in good condition and there no severe kinks which could cause wire damage.
  • Check that attachments are in good condition and can easily be connected, not too loose but tight and secure.
  • The power head (bar or nozzle) should connect easily and electrical connections should be intact.
  • Inspect the condition of the power bar brush and check for problems.
  • Review attachments - priority accessories include wand(s), hose with handle, dusting and floor brush, and crevice tool.
  • Look at the condition of the cord and hose.
  • Could you replace missing important accessories if you wanted to?
  • Will you be able to find replacement filters and bags?
  • If there isn't a manual with the vacuum, ask the seller. Often they've overlooked including it and are more than happy to locate one. If not, this isn't a concern as replacement manuals for popular brands are usually easy to obtain online.
After the Purchase - Caring for Your Vacuum: Read More About Vacuums & Floor Care:

Vacuums 101 - From Buying Tips to Caring for Your Vacuum
Before You Buy a Robot Vacuum
Bag vs Bagless Vacuums
Vacuum Care Tips
10 Reasons to Read Your Product Manual

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