With prices ranging from <$100 to $1,000, it’s natural to wonder whether your broken or dirty vacuum is worth the hassle… or if it’d make more sense to replace it. So is it worth fixing an old vacuum? Well, the answer depends on several things, including money and your vacuuming needs.

Here’s the TL;DR:

It’s worth fixing an old vacuum if it’s still under warranty, the manufacturer still makes replacement parts, and it’s cheaper to fix than replace. Getting a new vacuum is a better choice if your current one isn’t performing as well, it costs too much to repair, or you need different features.

I’ll start by discussing a vacuum cleaner’s average lifespan and factors determining how long yours may last. You’ll then learn when it makes the most sense to do each — buy new or fix it.

Average Vacuum Lifespan + Durability

According to Consumer Reports, the average vacuum cleaner lasts ~8 years. However, exactly how long your vacuum will last depends on several factors, such as:

  • Brand reputation + quality: Big-name brands like Shark, Miele, and Dyson earn rave reviews on their vacuum cleaners. But it can also be hit or miss. Bissell’s CleanView Swivel Upright is highly regarded, while its ICONpet Turbo — not so much. 
  • Vacuum type: Upright and canister vacuums tend to last the longest (~8 years), followed by stick (5–8 years) and handheld (2–3 years).
  • How often (and how) you use it: The more often you use the vacuum — especially for longer sessions — the more wear and tear will occur. Vacuuming things you shouldn’t and ignoring basic maintenance can reduce its lifespan.
  • Storage: Vacuums stored in cool, dry places typically last longer. Too hot, and the plastic or rubber parts may warp or melt. Too wet, and the vacuum may develop mold, mildew, or corroded metal. 
  • Upkeep + maintenance: Cleaning filters, emptying dustbins, removing hair from the brushroll, and keeping hoses debris-free can maximize a vacuum’s efficiency. So can addressing device issues when you first notice them. When each part functions as intended, there’s less strain on the motor — the heart of the cleaner.
  • How you handle it: Rough handling and dropping can damage internal and external parts. You may permanently damage the vacuum’s power supply if you stretch out or tug the electrical cord.
  • Manufacturer warranty: Though you shouldn’t read too much into it, the warranty often suggests the manufacturer’s confidence in the product. Most “good,” long-lasting vacuums include a 1–3-year limited warranty.

Depending on these factors, a vacuum cleaner may last as little as a few years to 20+. But I’ll consider anything over five years an “old vacuum” — given how quickly manufacturers push out new models and retire old ones. 

When to Repair Your Old Vacuum

Replacing a vacuum isn’t always cheap. And, just because a vacuum is old, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t — or couldn’t — still work. 

Here‘s when it’d make sense to at least attempt to salvage an old vacuum:

If It’s Still Under Warranty

Most vacs from reputable brands come with a 1–3-year warranty. “Limited” warranties typically only cover manufacturer defects or poor workmanship. For example, if the motor fails in that period, they may cover a replacement (or repair), shipping, and labor. 

The table below has estimated warranty lengths for some of the major vacuum brands:

BrandLimited Warranty Length*
Bissell1 year to “lifetime”
Shark1 year to “lifetime”
Hoover (UK)1 to 5 years
Miele3 to 5 years
Dyson2 to 5 years
Oreck3 to 7 years
Eureka1 to 2 years
iRobot1 year
Comparison of limited warranty length from various vacuum brands

* Warranty length varies by model.

Now, like many things in life, there’s a ton of fine print. 

Even if your cleaner is still under warranty, the manufacturer likely won’t cover — or will void the warranty — in the following scenarios:

  • Damage from normal wear and tear, like worn belts or dirty filters
  • Accidental user damage
  • Devices not used according to the manual, which can even include not doing normal maintenance
  • Cosmetic damage that doesn’t impact its functioning, like scratches or dents
  • Cleaners repaired by you or an unauthorized service center
  • Any parts or attachments purchased separately 

Check your user manual for 1) how long your warranty is and 2) what it covers. If you lost your manual, search for it online or through the manufacturer’s website. Read it in detail to determine whether the warranty still applies. 

For example, here’s a blurb from a Hoover vacuum limited warranty and what it does cover:

And now, here’s what that same limited warranty doesn’t cover:

A vacuum is worth fixing if it’s still under warranty and the manufacturer is willing to fix or replace it at no cost. Contact their customer support line to learn more. 

The Cost of Repairs Is Low + Parts Are Still Around

Diagnosing what’s wrong with your vacuum is key to deciding whether it’s worth fixing. There are two key factors: the cost to replace/repair and the availability of parts

The exact cost of replacement parts depends on the brand and model. For instance, a vacuum that’s brushroll won’t spin may need a new belt — a ~10-minute DIY job that usually costs <$20 from the manufacturer. Compare the cost to get it up and running again versus buying an entirely new machine.

You can also bring your old vacuum to an authorized repair shop for a professional cleaning or tune-up for $50–$200

Manufacturers may sell filters, hoses, dustbins, brushrolls, attachments, bags, belts, and minor pieces (like hose wraps) for DIY replacements. In fact, you may find nearly every part other than the motor, fan, electrical components, and main body. 

You can technically replace 50–75% of your vacuum with new parts. Ensure you buy genuine parts directly from the manufacturer or an authorized seller. 

Here are the estimated costs to replace some of these parts:

Vacuum ComponentEstimated Cost to Replace
Estimated costs to replace various vacuum components

If it’s only one part causing issues, replacing or repairing it should bring your old vacuum back to life. 

Its Issues Are Relatively Minor

It could also cost you nothing to “fix” your old vacuum if the issue is simple — like a clogged hose or tangled brushroll. In fact, you may just need to deep clean your vacuum to revive it.

Let’s look at some of the “easier” issues to fix. These are the ones worth troubleshooting first before chucking your cleaner for good. 

ProblemHow To Fix
Clogged hose + reduced suctionUnplug the vacuum.
Detach the hose.
Straighten it out and check for blockages.
Use a broom handle to gently dislodge any debris. 
Full bag or dustbinReplace the bag with a new one.
Empty the dustbin.
Dirty or clogged filterRinse any washable filters under warm water.
Bang out or replace any non-washable filters.
Brushroll not spinning (tangled)Unplug the vacuum.
Remove the bottom plate to access the brushroll.
Remove the brushroll.
Carefully cut away any tangled hair with scissors. 
Reinstall the brushroll. 
Brushroll not spinning (worn or broken drive belts)Unplug the vacuum.
Replace the old belt with a new one.
Check for proper alignment.
Most common “minor” vacuum issues and how to fix them

The Vacuum Is Expensive

Another logical reason to save your vacuum is cost. In 2018, 25.2% of Americans surveyed “expected” to pay $200+ for a vacuum cleaner. 

Salvaging it would make the most sense financially if you spent several hundred on your old cleaner. That’s especially true for higher-end models — like those from Dyson, Miele, Kirby, and iRobot — which tend to be pricier. 

Replacing the vacuum with a similar new one may cost as much as the original. 

When to Replace a Vacuum With a New One

There are also times you should replace an old vacuum with a new one, either because it’s unfixable or not worth the price to repair. 

Here are the biggest reasons to retire your old vac:

They Don’t Make Its Parts Anymore

Vacuum brands roll out new models and discontinue old ones each year. They usually make replacement parts for up to a few years after discontinuing a model. Unfortunately, you may not realize your model is donezo until you need new parts. 

Here’s an example. I bought the Bissell Cleanview Rewind Pet upright vacuum in June 2022. Not 1 ½ years later, Bissell doesn’t produce ‘em anymore. 

Now, they do still sell some replacement parts for this model, like:

  • Filters
  • Belts
  • Brushrolls
  • Roller assemblies
  • Height adjustment knobs
  • Dust tank doors
  • Hoses
  • Handle assemblies (plus screws)
  • Onboard tool holders
  • Access plates

But they also have the following listed as “No Longer Available” (not “Not in Stock”): 

  • Pre-motor fiber filters
  • Dirt tanks (dustbins)
  • Separator assemblies
  • Post-motor filter doors

When one of these parts inevitably breaks, I may need to buy a new vacuum. 

Brands like Shark, Dyson, and Hoover also use standardized parts in some lines. My vac’s filter, for example, is compatible with 33 Bissell models, and the drive belts work with 101. The more vacuums it works with, the better odds you’ll find spare parts. 

You can check if your vacuum has been discontinued by seeing if it’s listed on the manufacturer’s website. Most brands also have a “Parts & Accessories” section where you can track down replacement parts for your model. 

You Can’t Justify the Repair Costs

Bags, filters, and belts are recurring costs and to be expected as a vacuum owner — each will cost you <$20. For anything beyond these high-wear parts, you should compare the cost of the part or repair to the total cost of the vacuum. You can do this if your vacuum cleaner is discontinued as well. Just find a similar model that’s still in production.

If the repair or part cost is 50% or more of the vacuum’s value, it’s not worth it. 

The following parts — especially on high-end vacuum models — are likely to cost more to fix or replace:

  • Motors
  • Electrical components
  • Batteries (for higher-end cordless models)
  • Circuits and wiring (high labor costs to diagnosis + fix)
  • High-efficiency, specialized filters

The longer it takes to fix, the more you should expect to spend on labor costs. Hourly fees range from $15 to $100/hour plus the cost of parts.

It Already Needs Frequent Repairs

A one-time fix or part replacement is typically worth it if the cost isn’t 50% or more of the vacuum’s price tag. However, you’re better off retiring that bad boy if it’s constantly breaking down or needing repairs. 

There are a few reasons for this:

  • You’ve already spent ~$50–$1,000 to purchase the vacuum.
  • Each repair will run you ~$50 or more (including parts and labor).
  • The total amount you put into fixing this headache of a vacuum could wind up costing you more than the vacuum is worth.
  • Vacuums last a median of ~8 years; it’s normal for performance to decline as the vacuum ages, and even new parts may not make it “run like new.”
  • Older vacuums tend to be less energy-efficient and cost more in electricity.
  • The more often you need to replace a part or bring it into the shop, the less time you have a functional vacuum.

Keep track of how much you spent on the vacuum initially and how much went into fixing it. If the latter begins nearing or exceeding that 50% threshold, it’s time to buy a new one. 

It’s Less Effective At Normal Tasks

Vacuum cleaners experience wear and tear like any device — even with completely normal use. Older vacuums will generally be less efficient and effective than newer models. And repairing a vacuum doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be as powerful as it was on day one.

The motor and battery are two of the biggest culprits here. 

The lifeblood of the cleaner, the motor can accumulate dust and strain itself to continue generating suction. This can eventually weaken its power output. You may notice less suction or that you must do several more passes over problem areas to pick up debris.

In cordless models, the batteries will also naturally degrade with time. They may take longer to charge or no longer hold their charge. This results in reduced suction power and shorter vacuuming sessions. 

Also to blame are leaky or cracked seals and gaskets and a general dust build-up inside the machine. As dust and debris coats the motor and other internal parts, the vacuum’s airflow will drop, as will its suction. 

Batteries and motors are replaceable. However, since all of its parts experience wear over the years, an old vacuum will likely never run as well as it used to. 

Your Needs Have Changed

The final reason to replace your vacuum cleaner is that it no longer fits your lifestyle or cleaning needs. Vacuums are constantly evolving and — as of late — are trending more toward reliability and convenience.

Specifically, there’s been a notable shift toward:

  • Lightweight + compact vacuums
  • Cordless models
  • Better battery life
  • Enhanced suction
  • Noise reduction
  • Multi-functional designs (i.e., 2-in-1 vacuums)
  • More advanced filtration
  • Eco-friendliness
  • Smart technology, like the robot vacuum craze

If your current vacuum doesn’t have these features (or they’ve declined with age), you’re probably better off buying a new one. The same applies if you need to downsize or upgrade your vacuum power. 

For example, if you moved from a three-bedroom home to a one-bedroom, you may no longer need a corded upright vacuum. A cordless model with ~40 minutes of runtime may be enough to vacuum your entire place. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you should replace your vacuum or fix it depends on your needs, finances, and how much you like your cleaner. The tips above should help you decide which decision is right for you!