How to Fix a Shark Vacuum with No Suction: A Step-by-Step Guide

Shark Vacuum No Suction: How to Troubleshoot & Fix Your Vacuum Cleaner

Aug 29, 2023
One of the most common ailments of vacuum cleaners is suction loss. It doesn’t matter which brand or which model. Use your vacuum for long enough and eventually it will one day have suction problems. In fact, “Shark vacuum no suction” is among the top questions we were asked by our readers.

It’s very important that you don’t freak out and throw your vacuum away! That’s a huge waste of both money and time. Suction loss can usually be quickly and easily fixed.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to deal with the infamous “Shark vacuum no suction” problem.

Shark Vacuum Has No Suction: Possible Causes

Suction loss is only a symptom. There are many different causes for it. Unfortunately, you have to give your vacuum a full inspection to know which case your vacuum belongs to.

Here is how to perform Shark vacuum troubleshooting:

Check the Cleaning Head

The very first thing to check is the brush bar inside of the cleaning head. It is arguably the most problem-prone component in the whole vacuum cleaner.

The cleaning head must be the first place to check. It’s very susceptible to clogging

The cleaning head must be the first place to check. It’s very susceptible to clogging Via: Amazon

The brush bar may be tangled by a clump of pet hair. This issue is very common among pet owners who regularly have to deal with thick pet sheddings. In fact, most of the readers who sent us emails with the title “My Shark vacuum has no suction” are pet owners.

Fortunately, it is very simple to fix. There are many different tricks that you can use to disentangle the pet hair and make the brush roll spin again.

However, if you discover that your brush roll is indeed being tangled, do not power on the vacuum. You will risk snapping the drive belt that rotates the brush. Although the belt is replaceable in most Shark vacuums, it is a very complicated process. You don’t want to compound your problems.

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Wrong Cleaning Head Height

If you find that the vacuum still produces a decent amount of suction, but doesn’t really pick up anything on the floor, check the cleaning head’s height. It’s very likely that your vacuum wasn’t properly configured to work on the floor type you’re trying to clean.

Bare floors like hardwood will require a low height. So, if your cleaning head is way too high, it won’t pick up anything at all.

When you transition onto carpeting (especially high-pile carpets), you will need to adjust the cleaning head to be higher. If the vacuum’s height is too low, expect bad results.

Check the Air Filters

Clogged air filters can contribute to suction loss and be the cause of your Shark vacuum not suctioning.

Be sure to maintain your Shark vacuum’s filters regularly

Be sure to maintain your Shark vacuum’s filters regularly Via: Amazon

If you neglect the air filters for too long without cleaning them, dirt and debris can build up on their surfaces. The accumulated residue will block the airway, causing the vacuum to “choke up”.

Most Shark vacuum models will have washable filters. Check the user manual that comes with your vacuum to know the details.

If the filters are indeed washable, follow the instructions and clean up the filters. Once they’re completely cleaned and dried, replace them back into your vacuum and see if suction gets restored.

On the other hand, if your filters aren’t washable, you will have to buy replacement filters. Fortunately, Shark’s filter replacement kits are fairly cheap.

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Clogged Suction Hose

If your vacuum accidentally gobbles up a piece of debris that’s way too large, the debris will lodge itself within the suction hose’s airway. With the airway blocked, the result is the Shark vacuum no suction problem.

As you may have already guessed, the fix is straightforward: clear up the obstruction. We will teach you how to do this later in the guide.

Overfilled Dust Cup

Check your dust cup if you have a bagless Shark vacuum (ones with a detachable, washable dust cup like the Shark Navigator series).

Though it may be very tempting, you do not want to overfill your dust cup past the fill line. Once the dirt and debris level exceeds the fill line, performance will drop.

Depending on the model, the Shark vacuum loss of suction rate will be different. Nonetheless, we found that older vacuums such as the Shark Navigator series tend to experience very steep drops. A few reports showed that these vacuums won’t even suck up anything at all if their dust cups are full. 

We have tested this in our labs and indeed, an overfull dust cup can explain why your Shark Navigator lost suction or your Shark Rotator vacuum lost suction.

Shark Vacuum Losing Suction: How to Fix

Before you perform any kind of maintenance work, unplug it to be safe.

An unplugged vacuum can be a huge hazard

An unplugged vacuum can be a huge hazard Via: Amazon

How to Untangle Shark Vacuum’s Brush Roll

Pet hair can tangle up the brush roll, causing suction drop

Pet hair can tangle up the brush roll, causing suction drop

Depending on the severity of the clogs, you have two options:

If the clog is quite small and manageable, pick them off using a pair of tweezers and either scissors or a razor blade. Simply lay the vacuum on your lap with the bottom of the cleaning head up and facing you. Then, you can get to work untangling the hair by picking and slicing through the knots.

Be very careful while you’re doing this. You don’t want to accidentally break the brush roll, too.

However, in worse cases where big clumps of pet hair are solidly attached to the brush roll, this may not be possible. Instead, you will have to remove the brush roll from the vacuum and clean it separately.

Generally, removing the brush roll from most Shark vacuums is a simple affair. You will need two tools: a standard Phillips screwdriver and a pry tool.

Unscrew the screws holding the brush roll’s cover plate at the bottom of the cleaning head. Once all of the screws are off, pry off the cover plate with the pry tool.

With the cover plate off, you will have full access to the brush roll. Pop off the roller brush.

Lay the detached roller brush on an old piece of newspaper. You don’t want to soil your house with all of the nasty debris, pet hair, and dirt on the brush.

Use tweezers and either scissors or a razor blade to work through all of the knots and clumps.

Once everything has been cleaned up, replace the brush roll and reinstall the cover plate. Plug in the vacuum, power it on, and see if the Shark vacuum suction problems have been fixed!

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How to Adjust the Cleaning Head’s Height

Unfortunately, if this is the cause of your Shark vacuum lost suction, this isn’t something that can easily be fixed.

Some Shark vacuums will have a manual height adjustment lever, some don’t. If your vacuum doesn’t have one, you’re out of luck. There’s not much that you can do.

If your vacuum does come with a height adjustment lever, it’s as simple as cranking the lever up and down.

We understand how this can be frustrating. This is the reason why, whenever possible, we always recommend people to purchase best rated vacuum cleaners with a height adjustment lever. Not only does it make the vacuum more versatile, it’s far less frustrating to use.

How to Clean Up the Air Filters

Cleaning the air filters is very simple. Even simpler than untangling the brush roll.

Like mentioned earlier, the first thing you should do is to check the user manual. You will want to look for the “Filter Maintenance” section. It will tell you whether your filters are washable or not.

If you lost your manual, you can find an online copy. Just search for your vacuum’s model name along with the keyword “user manual”.

Once you have confirmed that your filters are washable, you can proceed to clean them.

Because not all Shark vacuums are built the same, unfortunately, we cannot give you detailed instructions on how to remove the filters. You will have to follow Shark’s instructions written in your model’s user manual.

It won’t be too difficult. Usually, all you have to do is to pop off a panel to gain access to the filter compartment. Then, a couple of gentle tugs should dislodge the filters from their places.

The amount of filters included will be different from one model to another, too. For full-size uprights like the Shark Navigator or Shark Rotator-series vacuums, they will come with three filters. A felt filter, a foam filter, then a HEPA filter.

The foam and felt filters are usually grouped together and called “conventional filters”. The HEPA filter is more special because of its high-efficiency filtering rate, so it’s referred to separately as “HEPA”.

Your vacuum’s HEPA filter is most likely to be the culprit responsible for your Shark vacuum no suction problem. During the course of its operation, it will capture a lot of dirt and other nasty particles due to its high filtration rate. After several months, the particles can build up so thickly that it finally causes the “Shark Navigator no suction” or “Shark Rotator no suction” issue.

So, to clean them up, take out each filter and wash them gently under cool running water. Gently rub the surface of the filter so that all of the clogged-up dirt and debris washes off.

Allow the filters to dry for at least 24 hours before putting them back into the vacuum. Never put wet filters back into your vacuum.

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How to Clear Up A Clogged Suction Hose

Removing clogs from the suction hose is quite easy since the hose is removable

Removing clogs from the suction hose is quite easy since the hose is removable Via: Amazon

The suction hoses on most Shark vacuums are removable. So, detach it from the vacuum.

Now, there are several ways to dislodge a clog from the hose.

The first method to try is with the end of a broomstick. Slowly stick the broomstick’s end into the hose to try and force the blockage out of the other end of the hose. Do this slowly. You don’t want to accidentally damage the hose.

If this doesn’t work, you can use the baking soda and vinegar method.

Put your suction hose into a sink and pour ½ cup of baking soda into one end of the hose. Shake the hose vigorously so that the powder coats up the interior of the hose.

Then, pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the hose.

Wait for the cleaning mixture to work its magic for 2-3 minutes. After that, you can wash off the mixture using hot water. The piece of debris should be dissolved and can be washed out at that point.

Allow the suction hose to dry before reinstallation and reuse. Check the suction level thoroughly to make sure that everything’s in order.

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How to Clean the Dust Cup of a Shark Vacuum

Though this is a very basic skill, if you haven’t used a vacuum cleaner before, this small segment will be useful.

The first thing to do is to find the dust cup latches. They anchor the cup to the vacuum. Usually, you can find them on either side of the cup’s bottom.

Take off the latches and the dust cup should pop right out. There will be a handle at the top of the cup for you to remove it from its place.

At the top of the cup will be a button. When you press it, the top of the cup will snap open. You can then pour off the contents within like you do a water cup. Just chuck everything into the trash can.

However, a few models will also have a trapdoor-style door at the bottom of the cup. Basically, you only have to hover the cup over the top of the trash can’s mouth. Then, when you hit the release button, the bottom of the cup will fall open, dumping the cup’s contents.

The advantage to bottom-dumping is that it is much more hygienic and less likely to kick up dust. If you’re an allergy sufferer, we highly recommend cleaning up the cup in this manner.

Normally, you can simply replace the cup back to the vacuum. However, after a couple of weeks, we recommend you give the cup a quick rinse to clean off the leftover dirt and debris. You will also eliminate potential bad odors, too.

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So, that’s all you need to know in order to fix the Shark vacuum no suction problem! Like we said at the beginning of the article, Shark vacuum not sucking is a very common problem and, most of the time, can be easily fixed. There’s no need to panic.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email us in the editorial. We will be more than happy to help you out.

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