8 Reasons Your Shop-Vac Not Suctioning Well!

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

Shop-vac is an excellent addition to your shop, especially if you need its functions. However, it can be disappointing if the vacuum is not working as correctly as it should.

One of the most common vacuum problems is the loss of suctioning power. However, you can correct this problem.     

The primary reason the shop vac is not suctioning well is the presence of dirt clogging the hose. However, most of the reasons your shop vac is not suctioning well are poor maintenance and improper equipment handling. Fortunately, simple procedures and proper maintenance can correct the suction problem.

Common Reasons Why Shop-Vac Is Not Suctioning Well?

Shop-Vac Not Suctioning Well

A Shop-vac malfunctions for various reasons. The problem can be from the hose or the vacuum system.

Below are some of the reasons why the shop vac is not suctioning well:

#1. Clogged Air Filter

A clogged air filter is one of the major causes of a vacuum not suctioning well. The vacuum has two air filters, namely the primary and secondary air filters.

With consistent use, dirt can clog the primary air filter, leading to the poor air passage. Poor passage of air will lead to the loss of suction power.

The dirt in the secondary shop vac filter results from a tear in the primary air filter, leading to the passage of large particles, thereby clogging the shop vac filter.

#2. Bad Compressor  

Due to consistent use, the compressor can become worse over time, thereby losing its ability to function well. The compressor compresses the air into the vacuum to make suctioning happen.

#3. Problem With the Motor  

The suction will not work well when there is a problem with the motor. Dust can get into the motor of the vacuum and block it.

Also, the motor may experience some electrical malfunction. Rainwater and other liquids can get into the motor and cause damage, thereby making the motor not work properly.

#4. Obstruction by the Plastic Bag      

The plastic bag work by collecting dust, thereby preventing it from entering the air filters.

However, the plastic bag can obstruct the entrance port and cause suctioning problems when it gets full.

#5. Blocked Hose 

There is suction when air can pass through the hose freely. Dirt can enter through the hose’s two ends, thereby blocking it.

Also, tiny stones and other particles can get stuck at the curved part of the hose, thereby causing poor air passage. Finally, the hose can get perforated on its length, making it lose air.

This can lead to poor suctioning ability because enough air is not getting into the vacuum.

Big masses can also form when dust mixes with water, and these masses can block the hose.

#6. Blocked Suction Portal

Sometimes, dust might get into the suction portal and block it. This mostly happens when you fill the tank when cleaning is going on.

The blocked suction portal can lead to the loss of suction power in the vacuum.

#7. Dirty Fan

Fans help to suction, and dirt can affect its ability to function well. In addition, the screws used in tightening the fan to the motor can also get loosed, making the fan malfunction.

#8. Dirt on Rims 

Dirt can get on the edges of the rims in the vacuum, making them not close properly. When this happens, the vacuum loses the ability to suction well because air leaks out.

The above reasons can cause your shop vacuum not to suction properly. In addition, any of the problems can lead to the vacuum producing a strange noise which can be disturbing.

Also, the pressure on the motor will increase, making it work more than it should, leading to more complicated motor problems.

How Do I fix the Suction on My Shop Vac?  

Fixing the suction on your shop vac is relatively easy. The solution will depend on the cause of the problem.

Below are some of the steps to fix the suction on your shop vacuum:

  • Check the air filters if they are clogged by dirt or dust. If they are dirty, remove the shop vac filters and put them under a running water source to remove the dust. You can then air dry after this and fix them back.
  • Check if the plastic bag is not full or causing obstruction. If it is, you can remove it, empty the bag and replace it. Ensure to do this often.  
  • Ensure the ends of the hose are not blocked. To ascertain if the hose is blocked, remove it and turn on the machine without it. If the vacuum runs without it, the hose has a problem. Next, check the whole length of the hose if it is not blocked and remove the object obstructing it if it is blocked.
  • Check the motor to ensure it is functioning well. A bad motor usually produces strange sounds. You can remove it and check if it is not clogged with dirt. If it is, you can remove the dust and dirt. However, if water getting into the system caused the problem, you should air dry it. If the motor is not working again, you should get a replacement. You can get one here.
  • Check the fan blades to ensure they are not blocked by dirt. Again, it would be best if you cleaned them up to avoid obstructions.
  • You should properly check the ends of the rims, and you should remove any obvious dirt. It should be properly clean before fixing back.
  • You can also check out if the compressor is working properly. A replacement is most times the solution to a bad compressor. You can get a new one here.
  • It would be best if you sealed holes along the length of the hose with gum. However, the gum may lose its gumming ability with time. Therefore, replacing the hose is the best option.

The steps above should make your vacuum suction properly. However, you should see a professional if it does not work properly.

Also, to prevent these problems, you should always carry out routine checks on your vacuum cleaner.

Rigid Shop Vac Not Suctioning Well?            

The Rigid vacuum not suctioning well is due to a blockage in the shop vac filter or the hose. Other reasons might arise from issues with the fan motor.

Below are some of the solutions you can do to the problems.

Problem Solution 
Clogged air filterGet a blower to blow out the dust and debris. Better still, you can get new ones.
Blocked hoseRun water along the length of the hose and shake the hose to dislodge any object inside it.
Problem with the fan motors and drive motorsAlthough, this rarely happens. You should check if the motors are dirt free. Then, you can clean it off or get a replacement.

New Vac Lost Suction Makes Noise, but Is the Filter Brand New?          

If the vacuum is not suctioning well and the filter is brand new, the problem should be with the air filter setup.

The issue is usually traceable to the hose or the motors. A tangled brush bar can also cause this.

Some simple procedures can solve most of these problems. First, you can check the components if they are working well.

However, if these steps do not work, you can call an expert or see a professional.

How Often Should You Replace the Shop Vac Filter?

If the vacuum works regularly, you should change the filters every six months, totaling twice a year.

However, changing the shop vac filter every two to three years is good if you use the vacuum once in a while.

The prefilters capturing bigger particles should be changed every three to four months.

However, if you notice any tears on your filters, you should replace them to avoid further damage.

Sometimes, paints and particles may stick to them, causing clogs and preventing air passage. At this point, total replacement of the shop vac filters is advisable.


Having a shop vacuum is beneficial in many ways. It saves the energy and time you should use in manual cleaning.

However, some problems can result in your vacuum not suctioning well. To prevent these problems, you should ensure proper vacuum cleaner maintenance.

Although some simple procedures can solve some of these problems, you should always carry out routine checks.

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