Vacuum Not Working While on Carpet? This Might be Why


Your vacuum was working fine on your lino but seems to have gone on strike now you’ve reached the carpet. Work out why your vacuum is sleeping on the job and what you can do about it in this article.

Here are 6 reasons why your vacuum is not working on carpet

  1. The bag needs emptying
  2. You’re not using the right height setting
  3. The floor tool is clogged
  4. The brush belt needs replacing
  5. The wand or hose is blocked
  6. The propulsion mechanism failed

Are you struggling to get your vacuum to continue working after wheeling it onto your carpet? Then check out 6 reasons why your vacuum does this and how to fix it next.

6 Reasons Why Your Vacuum Isn’t Working on Carpet

It’s finally the weekend. And the sole goal of Saturday is to get everything mundane that you must do completed within the first few hours of the day. Then it’s time to pass out on the couch until Sunday night. One of the jobs that you must finish – the dreaded vacuuming.

So, you had envisioned a quick clean around the house then that would be it, sofa time. But what if your vacuum isn’t playing ball?

After dragging your vacuum around the hardwood, it’s time to tackle the carpet. You heave it onto the carpet and it does, well nothing. The head spins and it makes a noise, but it doesn’t suck up any dust. What can you do?

Don’t worry, your plans for a weekend in front of the box are not all lost. In fact, fixing this problem is pretty speedy. Take a look at the 6 ways you can do so coming right up.

Reason #1 The Bag Needs Emptying

The first thing on our list to check is your vacuum bag. You no doubt gave this a look over as soon as you started having problems. So, we won’t labor on this one. But if your vacuum thinks that the bag is too full to continue, it will stop sucking properly.

Here’s what you should do to fix this problem.

  1. Turn the vacuum cleaner off
  2. Replace the vacuum bag or empty the vacuum bin
    • NOTE: If your vacuum has a bin, ensure you remove all the dust and dirt from it. Use a cleaning cloth to remove any stubborn dirt.
  3. Turn the vacuum on
changing vacuum bag
Change the vacuum bag

Reason #2 You’re Not Using the Right Height Setting

More often than not, you can fix this kind of vacuum cleaner problem by altering its height settings. But first things first, what kind of settings can you expect to see on your vacuum cleaner? And more importantly, when should you use them?

Most vacuum cleaners have the following settings:

  • Low. This is best for bare floors.
  • Medium. Ideal for thin carpets.
  • High. Great for fluffy carpets and area rugs.

Some vacuum cleaners may have even more options specific for bare wood flooring, plush carpets, and other surfaces.

Why are all these settings necessary? If your carpet is too close to the bottom of the vacuum the brush will not turn well. This could also restrict the airflow to the vacuum and stop it from vacuuming properly.

And it works the same the other way. If your floor is too far away from the bottom of the vacuum it will not work well. The brush simply will not be able to reach the floor to clean it.

If your vacuum struggles to work on carpet, try the following:

  1. Take the vacuum off of the carpet
  2. Change the height setting on the vacuum. If it is set on low, change it to high. If your vacuum has a special “carpet” setting, put it on that.
  3. Put the vacuum back on the carpet

Reason #3 The Floor Tool Is Clogged

Another reason why your vacuum isn’t working on the carpet could be to do with your floor tool. If the floor tool jams with hair, dust, and dirt, it won’t be able to spin properly. The debris could impede the vacuum’s suction.

Here’s the best way to clean a clogged floor tool:

  1. Turn the vacuum off
  2. Remove the floor tool from the hose
  3. Clean the base of the floor tool. Remove hair, dust, dirt, and any other debris from it.
    • NOTE: If the floor tool has a removable cover, open it up. Empty it, and wipe it clean with a cloth. Then return the cover to the base of the vacuum.
  4. Clean around the neck of the floor tool. Remove any obstructions from it.
  5. Put the floor tool back on the hose
  6. Turn the vacuum on
vacuum heads
Clean the base of the floor tool

Reason #4 The Brush Belt Needs Replacing

Ok, so your bin bag is empty. You’ve checked you’re using the right settings. You’ve even deep cleaned your floor tools. But, none of the above has helped your vacuum pick up on the carpet. Now what can you do?

If you’re still stuck, then you might be facing a brush belt issue. That is, the brush belt has stopped moving and needs replacing. But how can you be sure if this is the problem? Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Turn the vacuum on
  2. Tilt the vacuum far back enough so that you can see the brush belt. It should be turning. If the brush is not turning, it is broken. It will need replacing.

Ok, so it’s all well and good knowing the problem. But how do we go about fixing it? Well, how you fix a brush belt will depend on the make and model of your vacuum. But here are some basic steps that will help you with any vacuum:

  1. Buy a replacement belt. You can do this by making a note of the make and model of your vacuum. Only buy a belt that is an exact match for your vacuum.
  2. Follow the instructions in your user manual to change the belt. Changing the belt is different on every vacuum. So, you should go straight to your user manual for guidance on changing your brush belt.

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.

Reason #5 The Wand or Hose Is Blocked

Your vacuum cleaner might have stopped picking up because there is a blockage in the hose. If there is, the vacuum will lose suction. It will not be able to work as it should. To fix this issue, you’ll simply need to unblock the hose. If you’re not sure how to, take a look below:

  1. Turn the vacuum off
  2. Remove the floor tool from the vacuum wand
  3. Remove the vacuum hose from the main body
  4. Look down the vacuum hose to check it for obstructions. If there is a blockage, use a broom arm to push the blockage out of the hose. Do the same with the vacuum wand.
  5. Reattach the hose to the main body
  6. Reattach the wand to the hose
  7. Reattach the floor tool
  8. Turn the vacuum on

Reason #6 The Propulsion Mechanism Failed

Have you tried all else but not had any success? Then the fault may lie with the propulsion mechanism in your vacuum. Unfortunately, when this goes, there’s not much you can do to fix it. If you suspect that there is a problem with this mechanism, you will need to buy a new vacuum.


Your vacuum was just fine while you were cleaning your hardwood flooring. But strangely, it’s not working on your carpet. What should you do?

This is a common problem that most vacuum users come across, but thankfully, it is a simple one to rectify. I am sure that the 6 suggestions in this article have helped you along the way to fixing your vacuum and wrapping up your scheduled cleaning.

Has this article been useful to you? Then make sure you check out some of our other articles and free guides. You could even sign up to 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