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Dyson vacuum cleaner repair/rebuild

Our Dyson DC-14 pet vacuum started making a terrible loud, high-pitched noise one day. It still worked, mostly, but the noise was obnoxious enough that you wanted hearing protection while using it. And when I investigated further, I found the vacuum brush was not spinning either. I finally got around to fixing it.

A Dyson vacuum cleaner making a loud noise, a high pitched squealing noise, and the vacuum brush not spinning are all symptoms of the same 1-2 problems. The clutch is engaged and possibly damaged. It’s also possible the filters are clogged.

If you catch the problem early enough, you might not need any parts. We caught it early enough to not need a clutch, but our filters were shot.

The Dyson high pitched noise is the sound of the clutch engaging. The clutch protects the belts. The problem is that if the clutch stays engaged too long, you might burn up the clutch. Replacing the clutch requires a lot of disassembly, so I’d start with removing debris from the belt and replacing the filters first.

We have a Dyson DC-14. This is similar for any Dyson vacuum with a clutch, which lets you disengage the belt to clean wood floors.

Fixing the Dyson vacuum high pitched noise without parts

If your Dyson loses suction, or gets really loud, you can fix it by replacing some inexpensive parts. There's no need to spend hundreds of dollars replacing it.If you’re lucky, the only problem could be something jammed in the roller. If that’s the case, you can fix your Dyson at no cost at all, other than your time.

Flip the vacuum over and remove the plate on the bottom. It just has three half-turn screws. A US quarter does a good job of opening them, so you may not even need any tools. Turn the screws, then remove the plate. Pull out whatever debris you can. Then see if the roller turns by hand.

If you can’t turn the roller by hand, pull the roller up. Look underneath it and see if you can find something stuck inside. With any luck, removing whatever debris is in there will get your vacuum going again. If you see any stubborn packed-on dust, you can remove it with a damp cloth. If that packed-on dust isn’t causing problems now, it may cause problems in the future, so it’s worth taking an extra couple of minutes to clean it out while you have your Dyson apart.

At this point, you can try putting it back together and try it out. With any luck, the loud high pitched noise or squeal will go away and the brush will spin as normal. With the debris gone, you may find the vacuum works a bit better now too.

The second-best scenario: Filters

Dyson vacuum cleaner makes whistling noise or squeal

The Dyson “lifetime” HEPA filter doesn’t last a lifetime. It hides under the vacuum canister. When your Dyson starts making noise, suspect this part.

Sometimes Dyson vacuum cleaners start making noise because of clogged filters. They actually have two filters: the one at the top of the chamber, which you’re supposed to wash every few months, and a “lifetime” filter. The lifetime filter lasts several years, but definitely not a lifetime. We think ours lasted about five years.

Try washing the washable filter in your kitchen sink and let it dry to see if that fixes the problem. If your Dyson is only a couple of years old, it might. But not in our case, this time.

I removed the lifetime filter and found it clogged with lots of black debris. Charcoal black, obnoxious debris. I washed it and let it dry all day in the sun. The vacuum was noticeably quieter after I replaced it, which told me the lifetime filter is at its lifetime. The cleaned filter worked quietly for about two weeks before the noise started again, so don’t count on being able to wash the lifetime filter as a long-term fix. Washing it buys you a little more time than you need to order a new one and wait for it to arrive, but not much.

Filters are a common problem. Clogged or missing filters make shop-type vacuum cleaners misbehave too.

Replacing the filters

Dyson vacuum cleaner makes whistling noise or squeal

Here’s a clogged Dyson “lifetime” filter. It’s deceptive. This one looks much better on camera than in real life. If yours looks dirtier than this, replace it.

The filters are easy to replace, so let’s cover that first. They aren’t all universal, so be sure to buy filters that fit your particular model. I provide links to filters for the DC07 and DC14. You can modify my search after you click on it if you need to, to match your model.

The washable filter, which is yellow, goes in a compartment in the top of the vacuum canister. I’m sure you already know that. You can wash and reuse the washable filter for at least a couple of years. I went ahead and bought a new one to be on the safe side, since the reusable filters are pretty cheap.

The purple lifetime filter is easy to forget about. It’s in a chamber below the canister. Three clips hold it in place. Pry the clips very gently with a screwdriver to remove the cover. If your filter didn’t come with a rubber gasket (many don’t), peel the rubber gasket off the old filter and glue it to the new one. I just used wood glue. Drop in the new filter after the glue dries. Replace the cover and the canister, and the vacuum is good to go.

With new filters, you’ll probably find the vacuum cleaner runs with a lot more power.

What if you need parts?

The most critical part is the clutch, which costs around $25. It’s not a bad idea to replace the brush while you’re replacing the clutch, since a worn brush can cause additional stress on the clutch. The brush costs around $20. I also decided to replace the two filters, since I was ordering parts anyway. With new filters, a new clutch and a new brush in place, the vacuum should work essentially like new. It’s about $80 worth of parts, but it was an expensive vacuum cleaner.

If you’re reasonably skilled at taking things apart and putting them back together, you can probably do the repair yourself. If you’re not comfortable taking apart a vacuum cleaner, a vacuum cleaner repair shop ought to be able to replace your clutch and either refurbish or replace the roller brush.

Disassembling your Dyson vacuum cleaner

As with before, flip the vacuum over and remove the plate on the bottom. It just has three half-turn screws. A US quarter does a good job of opening them. Turn the screws, then remove the plate.

The roller doesn’t come out easily. Pull it out from under the belt, working slowly and progressively. It won’t come out all at once.

To get at the clutch, which is the source of the loud noise or high pitched noise or squeal, you have to remove three #15 Torx screws. You’ll need a long #15 Torx driver to reach them, at least four inches. Remove those screws and set them aside, then remove the cover plate.

Pull the clutch dial from the size of the vacuum. You can just pry it off with a screwdriver.

The clutch will lift out at this point. Unhook the belt from the motor to free it completely.

Replacing the clutch

Drop the new clutch in where the old one was. Loop the belt around the motor, using a screwdriver or Allen wrench if needed. It’s a little bit fiddly, so be patient. Take a break if you get frustrated. Replace the cover, pulling the longer belt through the opening. Next, replace the Torx screws.

Now it’s time to replace the roller. Ideally, use a new roller, rather than the old one. The new belt is much tighter than the old one was, so work slowly and carefully and gradually so as to not pinch yourself or poke yourself with the bristles.

Replace the bottom plate and this part’s done.

Parting thoughts

You can spend $80 on parts to rebuild a Dyson if you end up having to get a clutch, roller, and both filters. But that’s still a lot less than replacing it.  It’s probably worth $80 in parts and an hour of your time to avoid the cash outlay for an outright replacement.

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