Carpet Cleaner Not Picking Up Water: 7 Quick Fixes


Is your carpet cleaner refusing to pick up water? Are you left with soggy, dirty carpets with no way to get them dry? Don’t panic, as you will find 7 steps in this article that will help you get your carpet cleaner working again and dry your floor.

If your carpet cleaner isn’t picking up water, do this:

  1. Check it’s set on cleaning mode
  2. Empty the water tank
  3. Clear the cleaning tools
  4. Ensure the filters are not blocked
  5. Check the seals are in good condition
  6. Close the latches
  7. Test the suction and reconnect the hose

There we have it, 7 steps to fixing your carpet cleaner. To get yours sorted today, take a look at the extended instructions below.

7 Ways to Fix a Carpet Cleaner That Doesn’t Pick Up Water

Let’s be honest, deep cleaning the carpet is a job that everyone despises. And you’d been putting it off for longer than you can remember. But you finally psyched yourself up to do it and were raring to go.

Of course, all that enthusiasm quickly dissipated when you saw the carpet cleaner refusing to pick up water. You’re now left with a wet, dingy marshland beneath your feet and are wondering why you even bothered.

How can you fix this problem? Before you resort to drying the carpet with a hairdryer or simply moving house and never looking back, there’s something you can do. In fact, this article contains 7 ways that you can mend your carpet cleaner. Take a look.

Step #1 Check It’s Set On Cleaning Mode

This first step might seem pretty obvious so, I won’t labor on it. Before you do anything else, double-check the dial on your carpet cleaner. It should be set to carpet cleaning mode. If it is set on another setting, it won’t know that it needs to pick up water.

All carpet cleaners vary. And maybe it’s the first time you are using yours and you’re not sure what setting it should be on.  In this instance, I recommend you check your user guide.

If the problem persists and you’ve set your carpet cleaner correctly, take a look at the next step.

Step #2 Empty the Water Tank

Carpet cleaners are, (dare I say it) a little sensitive. If they detect that something is not quite right, they will not work as they should. If your carpet cleaner thinks that your tank is too full for you to continue cleaning, it will stop. It will not suck up any more water.

Check the status of your water tank. If it is full, use these instructions to empty it:

  1. Turn the carpet cleaner off
  2. Pull the water tank lever
  3. Remove the water tank
  4. Open up the tank and drain the water away
  5. Rinse the water tank with hot water to clear away any stubborn debris
  6. Return the tank to the carpet cleaner
  7. Turn the carpet cleaner on and test it

Step #3 Clear the Cleaning Tools

The cleaning tools on the end of your carpet cleaner get the brunt of all the hard work. They are on the front line of the battle which is why they often need a little more TLC.

If your cleaning tools are clogged, they will not be effective at sucking up water. You need to remove any obstructions from them to get the best suction from your unit.

To clear your cleaning tools, do the following:

  1. Turn the carpet cleaner off
  2. Remove the cleaning tool from the body of the carpet cleaner
  3. Inspect the tool for blockages
  4. Remove any hair, dust, or dirt from under the tool
  5. Remove any blockages from the neck of the tool
  6. If the tool has a brush, ensure you remove the hair from between the bristles
  7. Return the tool to the carpet cleaner
  8. Turn the carpet cleaner on to test it
soapy carpet cleaner tool
Remove the cleaning tool to clear it from blockages

Step #4 Ensure the Filters Are Not Blocked

Here is another reason why carpet cleaners sometimes refuse to cooperate. Their filters are blocked. Your carpet cleaner might think its filter is too clogged for you to continue cleaning and will stop. This could be the reason for the suction problem.

The filter might also be too blocked for the unit to be able to suck. This is because the water will not be able to pass through the machine and cause a backlog.

To fix this problem, you will need to inspect the filters in your carpet cleaner. If they are full, they will need cleaning. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn the carpet cleaner off
  2. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for removing the filter
  3. Remove large clumps of dust and dirt from the filter
  4. Rinse the filter under cold water
  5. Return the filter to the carpet cleaner
  6. Turn the carpet cleaner on and test it
cleaning carpet cleaner filter
Remove any dust and dirt from the filter

Step #5 Check the Seals Are In Good Condition

Your carpet cleaner’s seals hold the water inside of it. If the seals are damaged, water will leak from them. This could be the reason why your carpet is still wet after you’ve spent a while going over it with the cleaner.

To see if your seals are the culprit, you will have to give them a good looking over. Touch the seals with your hands to feel if they are wet and see if there is water leaking from them. If the seals are cracked or damaged, they will need replacing.

If you want to get any replacement part – or see how much one would cost – click to enter your model number in the search bar below. Our partners at AppliancePartsPros stock almost every part with free guides on how to install them.

Step #6 Close the Latches

For your carpet cleaner to suck well, it needs to be set properly. You must close any latches or flaps on the unit. This will increase the vacuum pressure inside the hose and help the cleaner to suck better.

Closing the latches is simple. Here are two easy steps:

  1. Close the latches on the carpet cleaner’s hose
  2. Turn the carpet cleaner on and test it

Step #7 Test the Suction and Reconnect the Hose

If all else fails, the final thing to do is to test the carpet cleaner’s suction. If it is not sucking, it will not be able to remove the water from the carpet.

The hose inside your carpet cleaner can sometimes knock out of place. If this happens, the unit will struggle to pick up water. We will test this in this step.

To test for good suction, you’ll need a newspaper. Stick with me and I’ll explain why:

  1. Turn the carpet cleaner off
  2. Disconnect the hose and then reconnect it
  3. Turn the carpet cleaner on and check if it now picks up water. If it doesn’t, turn it off again and move on to the next step.
  4. Tilt the carpet cleaner back and put a newspaper underneath it towards the front of the cleaner
  5. Turn it back on
  6. See if there is any suction on the newspaper. If there isn’t you will have to contact your manufacturer.
carpet cleaner with good suction
Reconnect the hose and test the suction


When our carpet cleaner is not picking up water we panic. Leaving the carpet to air dry is not an option and getting wet socks every time you walk over it is a pain. Now what are you supposed to do?

Worries aside as this article has been carefully put together with 7 steps you can use to fix your carpet cleaner. These steps have no doubt helped you to fix your carpet cleaner and enjoy the bliss of a clean, dry carpet.

Has this article helped you? Then make sure you check out some of our other articles and free guides on our website? You could even sign up for our email list.

Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more