A vacuum cleaner can be very unpredictable sometimes, especially when it starts to smell like it’s burning. When this happens, it is normal to wonder if a vacuum cleaner can explode and catch on fire. So, is this even possible?
Vacuum cleaners can catch fire and explode, although this is pretty uncommon. There have been recalls on vacuums that caught on fire due to manufacturing issues in the past. If you use and care for your vacuum properly, it should not explode or catch on fire.
Well, that’s a bit of a relief! There are things you can do to prevent a vacuum fire, and in this article, we will look at some warning signs and how to address them to avoid any accidents.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
Unfortunately, a vacuum cleaner can catch on fire, and it is not always a manufacturer error.
However, regular cleaning and maintenance of your vacuum can decrease the chance of it catching on fire.
Here are a few great vacuum options from Amazon:
1. Bissell Crosswave – One of the newest and most talked-about vacuums
2. Dyson Cordless Allergy vacuum – A vacuum with no cord is one less electrical component to inspect
3. Craftsman Shop-vac – Great for cleaning up liquids!
The Science Behind a Vacuum Fire
Before you freak out about your vacuum turning against you and catching on fire, this section will help explain why and how vacuums catch on fire.
Will a Vacuum Cleaner Catch on Fire?
There is a chance that a vacuum cleaner can catch on fire. However, vacuum cleaners are generally safe to use. Vacuum cleaners will not catch on fire if they are used within the manufacturer’s recommendations.
How many people look at their vacuum’s owner’s manual after the first use? Not very many.
Vacuums have thermal fuses and circuit breakers that are specifically designed to prevent fires.
Unfortunately, these safeguards do not always work and there have been recalls on vacuums.
The Rainbow SRX vacuums had a recall in 2020 on about 38,000 vacuums that were purchased in the United States.
Thankfully, these vacuums did not cause harm to any people.
What Are the Odds That My Vacuum Cleaner Will Catch on Fire?
The odds of your vacuum cleaner catching on fire is unlikely. However, if you misuse your vacuum cleaner and do not maintain it regularly, you will increase the odds of it catching on fire and possibly exploding.
Vacuums, like any other electrical appliance, can overheat. While vacuums do have internal shut-off switches if they overheat, these switches do not always work.
You also want to empty your bag or canister as often as possible.
It is a chore that so many people put off because no one wants dust exploding in their faces when they dump the canister.
However, it could be the one chore that saves your vacuum from catching on fire.
You might also enjoy our post on If a Vacuum Cleaner Can Electrocute You
Can a Canister Vacuum Cleaner Catch on Fire?
A canister vacuum can overheat and catch on fire if its automatic shut-off does not function properly. Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take to reduce the chance of your vacuum overheating.
Vacuums can overheat if they are used to clean up combustible and flammable materials.
While it may seem tempting to use your vacuum to clean the ashes in your fireplace, the better option is to use a broom and dustpan.
A canister vacuum can also catch on fire if the filter is clogged. When the filter is clogged in a vacuum it decreases the air that is flowing to the motor to help it cool down.
Therefore, you should empty your canister as often and as frequently as possible.
Is It Normal for a Vacuum Cleaner to Catch on Fire?
It is extremely rare for a vacuum to catch on fire. However, there is always a manufacturer, electrical issue, or human error that causes a vacuum to catch on fire. Using your vacuum properly can protect you from such fires.
Consumer reports list appliances and the total fires they caused between 2002-2009, and they do not include vacuums on that list.
The article could be considered dated, but it simply shows that it is more normal for a refrigerator or a stove to catch fire than it is for a vacuum.
Can a Vacuum Cleaner Explode?
While it is extremely uncommon, vacuum cleaners can explode. The most common way a vacuum cleaner can explode is by vacuuming a source of ignition, such as a cigarette butt or a match.
It is assumed that the cigarette butt or match would start to glow as it hits the airflow that is generated by the fan inside the vacuum.
It would then cause an explosion once the ignited cigarette butt or match hits the dirty chamber of the vacuum.
It is more common for a shop vac to explode than it is for a household vacuum cleaner. Some businesses find it cheaper to use a shop vac than hire a professional service to vacuum combustible particles.
Since the business does not know how to properly handle the combustible materials with a vacuum it is not uncommon for the shop vac to explode.
The Many Smells of Vacuums
You probably never thought a vacuum could smell did you? Well, they can and this section will help you look at what is causing your vacuum to smell.
Why Does the Vacuum Smell Like It’s Burning?
There are numerous reasons why your vacuum cleaner smells like it is burning. You should first unplug the vacuum and then evaluate if hair or something else is tangled in the rotary brush.
It is very normal for human hair or pet hair to get tangled around the rotary brush. This can cause friction between the hair and the bearings of the brush which can produce a burning smell.
You should thoroughly remove all hair from the brush before using it again.
Are Vacuum Cleaners Supposed to Get Hot?
It is normal for your vacuum cleaner to get hot. Vacuums have a motor just like your car. Everyone knows that a car will have a hot motor after driving it. The same is true for a vacuum.
With that being said it is not normal for a vacuum to overheat. Everyone’s definition of overheating is different and will most likely vary by vacuum.
Be mindful of your vacuum and if it feels abnormally hot to you then it is probably too hot.
You might also enjoy our post on If you Can Vacuum Your Garage
Why Does My Dyson Vacuum Smell Like It’s Burning?
It is not abnormal for any vacuum to smell like it is burning at some point in its lifetime. However, every brand of vacuum has specific reasons as to why the vacuum smells like it is burning and Dyson is no exception.
Dyson gives a list of specific things to help determine what is causing the burning smell.
They look things like:
- The sounds that the vacuum may be making
- Different issues with the different models since their ball upright models have different electrical and mechanical configurations compared to their stick models.
What to Do if Your Vacuum Is Smoking?
If your vacuum starts smoking, do not start panic shopping for a new vacuum. Your vacuum could be smoking due to a worn-out belt, a clogged brush roller, or a clogged or burned-out motor.
Vacuum belts are continuously rotating while the vacuum is running, therefore making it very common for the belt to have damage or slip out of place.
This is an easy fix, you just have to replace the belt.
When your brush gets clogged it stops rolling, which can burn out the belt and therefore produces smoke. It is a lot cheaper to clean out a clogged brush than it is to buy a new vacuum!
A clogged motor can produce smoke because the motor is trying to burn off the dust that has accumulated inside the vacuum.
A vacuum with a dirty and clogged filter can overheat and also produce smoke. If this seems to be your issue, just give your vacuum a nice thorough clean.
Unfortunately, vacuums do not live forever. If you have an older or an overused vacuum then your vacuum’s motor may be overused and worn out.
In this instance, you can buy a new vacuum or attempt to replace the motor.
Is It Normal for a Vacuum to Smell?
It is very normal for a vacuum to smell, but you should look into why your vacuum smells. Vacuums do get dirty and require regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid having a smelly vacuum.
The most common reason for a smelly vacuum is having pets in your house. Brushing and bathing your pet regularly decreases the amount of dirty hair that gets sucked into your vacuum.
You may be surprised to read that when you vacuum you are not only sucking up dust and hair, but also food debris and coffee grounds.
These particles make your trash stink after a couple of days, so it makes sense that they would also make your vacuum smell.
Why Does My Vacuum Smell Like Burning Plastic?
If your vacuum smells like burning plastic then you probably have an issue with your motor. A vacuum’s motor can wear out due to excessive vacuuming or from normal wear and tear.
Vacuums are not meant to last forever. An old vacuum may start to smell like burning plastic, which signals that the motor may be burnt out.
Vacuums can also smell like burning plastic if they are used excessively as this puts undue stress on the motor.
You might also enjoy our post on If you Can Vacuum a Wet Carpet
How Do I Get Rid of the Burnt Smell in My Vacuum?
You should diagnose what is causing the burning smell first. After you have fixed the issue that caused the smell, you can then clean and sanitize the vacuum to remove the smell.
You can clean the bin of the vacuum after you dump it and remove any debris. Once the bin is cleaned of debris you can sanitize it with a water and vinegar solution.
Let it dry before reattaching it to the vacuum. The vinegar helps to remove mold and mildew.
You can also wash the filters of the vacuum. It is recommended that you clean the filters with cold water only, and allow them to completely dry before placing them back into the vacuum.
How Long Can You Leave a Vacuum Cleaner On?
The duration of how long a vacuum can stay on varies by brand. Most brands will tell you how long the vacuum can continuously run. The reason this varies by brand is that each model of the vacuum has to be tested to see how long it can safely operate.
For example, Electrolux states that their vacuums can run for 30-60 minutes. They also state that there is a limit set for your safety.
How Do You Ruin a Vacuum Cleaner?
You can ruin your vacuum cleaner by using it improperly, such as vacuuming up wet messes. Also, if you don’t maintain your vacuum, it will likely run into some issues later on.
Overheating is one of the biggest issues with vacuums.
If you regularly dump your bag or bin and clean your vacuum’s filter you do not increase your vacuum’s life, but you are not ruining your vacuum because you do not give it the chance to overheat.
Other things that can potentially ruin your vacuum:
- Vacuuming large items
- Vacuuming bugs that are alive
- Vacuuming liquids
- Vacuuming sharp objects such as glass
- Vacuuming ashes
- Vacuuming clumps of hair
- Vacuuming your garage with the wrong type of vacuum
Vacuum Caught on fire, now what?
This section of the article will look at what made your vacuum catch on fire, how you can prevent it next time, and what legal actions if any you can take.
What Would Make a Vacuum Cleaner Catch on Fire?
The most common reason that a vacuum catches on fire is when the vacuum is overheated and the circuit breaker malfunctions. Performing regular maintenance can help avoid this.
Vacuums are built with an emergency shut-off that is supposed to be triggered when it is overheating.
Unfortunately, technology does fail on occasion and this emergency shut-off is not triggered, resulting in the vacuum catching on fire.
You can prevent your vacuum from overheating by performing regular maintenance and cleaning.
Do not ignore any weird smells or sounds that your vacuum makes as it trying to tell you that something is wrong.
Why Did My Vacuum Cleaner Catch on Fire?
Your vacuum cleaner catches on fire due to a combination of human error, and manufacturing errors. Vacuums are built with emergency shut-offs in case the vacuum overheats, and typically a vacuum overheats due to a clogged or dirty filter.
The emergency shut-off in a vacuum is only triggered when the vacuum overheats. When the filter is clogged air is not able to flow to the motor to cool it down therefore causing it to overheat.
Is It My Fault That My Vacuum Cleaner Caught on Fire?
It is not entirely your fault that your vacuum caught on fire. Vacuums are manufactured with an emergency shut-off if they overheat. This is a safety feature to prevent a fire. However, the vacuum overheating is due to normal negligence.
Ideally, you should dump your vacuums bin or bag after every use and give it a good scrub every couple of months. A dirty and clogged filter can cause the vacuum to overheat.
You should also pay attention to any abnormal sounds or smells that your vacuum emits. This is your vacuum’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Vacuum Without a Bag
How Can I Prevent My Vacuum Cleaner From Catching on Fire?
The easiest way to prevent a vacuum fire is to keep your vacuum clean and to inspect your vacuum for normal wear and tear. This will keep your vacuum in good shape, increasing its life span.
A dirty filter can cause a vacuum’s motor to overheat which can lead to a fire if the emergency shut-off malfunctions. You should also inspect your rotor brush periodically for hair or anything else tangled around it.
You should inspect the belt on your vacuum anytime that you can. Look for scratches and dents and to see if the belt has slipped.
You can still operate the vacuum if you notice scratches on the belt, just use caution and if you start to notice a burning smell, it is time to replace the belt.
Can I Return My Vacuum if It Caught on Fire?
Return policies vary drastically by manufacturer. Many offer a 30-60 day money-back guarantee, but they do not list fire as a reason that the product can be returned. Companies will look at their warranty policy to determine if you can return the product.
Bissells’ warranty does not include any damage to fans or routine maintenance components such as filters, belts, or brushes.
They also do not cover user negligence. They will only cover manufacturer issues with the product.
With that being said you should reach out to the company and tell them what happened.
They may have you send in the vacuum to test it and see if it was a manufacturer error, as they may need to issue a recall.
Can I Sue if My Vacuum Cleaner Caught on Fire?
If your vacuum caught on fire due to a manufacturer issue you will be able to sue. You will have to prove that the fire did not occur due to your negligence and that you were using the vacuum for its intended purpose only.
Products are supposed to be tested and deemed safe for use by manufacturers.
However, if a vacuum catches on fire due to a manufacturer error and causes harm to you, someone else, or causes damage to your property then you can sue.
Can I Keep My Vacuum in the Garage?
You can store your vacuum inside your garage. There is no risk of fire if your vacuum is stored in your garage, and there are no known issues with storing a vacuum in the garage.
The only concern with storing a vacuum in the garage is that the vacuum may get lost and buried.
Designate a specific area for the vacuum and make sure it is in a place where you can not throw boxes and containers in front of it.
What Happens if You Vacuum Water?
Normal household vacuums are not designed to vacuum water. If you have a wet-dry vacuum there are no harmful effects of vacuuming water. However, if you do not have a wet-dry vacuum the water can cause damage to the motor.
Technically speaking a normal vacuum can and will suck up water, but it is not good for the motor.
You also run the risk of electrocution as the vacuum is an electrical piece of equipment and does not have the proper safeguards to protect you.
Can a Vacuum Electrocute You?
Normal vacuuming of your floor will not get you electrocuted. However, you can be electrocuted by a vacuum if you use it in an improper way since are electrical currents running through the vacuum.
The most common reason for someone being electrocuted by a vacuum is because they vacuumed a wet floor.
Keep in mind that a wet floor is not just where you spilled a drink. It is also the floor around your sink if you have a leak.
Most people think of their stove catching on fire or the toaster, but they rarely think about their vacuum. While it is rare for a vacuum to catch on fire, it is possible and it is not always a manufacturing error.
You should ensure that you are only using your vacuum for the proper use and that you are not vacuuming large items or inflammable or combustible items.
You should also clean your vacuum after every use and periodically inspect it for abnormal damage.
If your vacuum is making a strange sound, smells funny, or has smoke coming from it then stop using it immediately and do some investigating.