How to Adjust Your Vacuum Carpet Height Settings for Maximum Results

Angela Brown
Written by Angela Brown
Updated June 30, 2021
woman vacuuming a carpet
Andriy Blokhin -

Learn how to adjust your vacuum's carpet height settings for those perfect vacuum lines, every time

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If you want to remove as much dust, dog hair, and cookie crumbs as you can, properly setting the height on your vacuum cleaner can make a big difference. Like all the extra attachments and hoses that come with your vacuum, tweaking the height adjustment knob on the base ensures you get the best clean possible.

How Many Different Heights Does My Vacuum Cleaner Have?

The number of height options on your vacuum will depend on the brand and model you purchase. For example, a basic vacuum may only have two or three height settings to help you navigate different types of carpeting. However, a multi-surface vacuum might have several height options to accommodate everything from bare wood floors to plush, high-pile carpets.

For most models, the lowest setting is optimal for bare floors or thin carpeting. The middle setting offers the best suction for slightly fuller carpets. The highest setting is best for plush carpets or area rugs.

Why Does Vacuum Height Matter?

Vacuum manufacturers add height adjustments to help owners maximize the use of their machines. However, many people mistakenly assume that using the lowest setting is always the best option. But in fact, setting your vacuum cleaner too low or too high can prevent your vacuum from working properly. When the bottom of your vacuum is too close to the carpet, the brush may not be able to turn as well, and there may not be enough airflow to get the best suction. If you use the highest height setting for your vacuum cleaner on a hardwood floor or flat surface, the brush won’t be able to reach the surface for cleaning.

How Do I Change My Vacuum Height?

The method for changing your vacuum height will depend on the model. You may need to step on a pedal multiple times to raise and lower the vacuum, or you may have a knob on the front of your vacuum that turns to raise and lower the base.

You can figure out the best height for your carpet by setting your vacuum cleaner to the highest height setting. If the sound is a bit high-pitched or airy when you push the vacuum, lower it by one notch. Listen for a deeper sound that’s less airy.

Why Does My Vacuum Still Not Suction Up Dirt?

If you’ve adjusted your vacuum height and you’re still not getting the results you want, there are a few common vacuum problems to consider:

  • Check the bag or fill container. Vacuum bags or fill containers near capacity won’t suction as well. Change your bag when it reaches 80% capacity and empty your removable container once it’s halfway full to get the best results.

  • Change your filter. Make sure the filter on your vacuum cleaner is clear from debris and dirt.

  • Check all hoses for debris that could be blocking the intake, especially if you use a central vacuum system. You can use a long stick or another object to gently dislodge sucked-up socks or clogs.

  • Clean off the brush roll. Flip your vacuum on its side and check the roller for hair or string, which can prevent the roller from moving correctly. Use a butter knife or scissors to remove anything wrapped around the brush.

  • Replace the belt. You can purchase a new belt for less than $20 from most major stores.

Vacuuming Tips and Tricks

  • To get the best results, make vacuuming part of your cleaning routine. Vacuum at least several times per week. If you repeatedly wait until your carpet looks dirty before running your vacuum, you may need to hire a professional to deep clean your carpets.

  • The best way to vacuum is to take your time and move it in all directions. Pull the vacuum back toward you after going forward to get all the dirt up before moving on to the next spot.

  • Not all vacuum cleaners are created equal. Homes with specialty rugs or hardwood floors should avoid vacuums with beater bars as these could damage your flooring.

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