How To Reverse Vacuum Cleaner Airflow

(Last Updated On: October 4, 2022)

Vacuums are a great tool for keeping your home clean. Occasionally you need it to blow out air as well as suck in air, this stops you from having to switch vacuums to another device.

Some vacuums allow you to toggle between the functions, however not all have this feature.

How to Reverse Your Vacuum Cleaner’s Airflow

1. Determine What Kind of Vacuum You Have

Check on the back of your vacuum’s upright handle. See if there are two red valves next to each other? If so, you have a bagged vacuum.

2. Turn off Your Vacuum Cleaner

3. Remove the Bag by Turning It Upside Down and Slapping it

Some bags, like those found in Kirby cleaners, are easy to remove. Those in standard vacuums snap shut and require you to pinch two ends of the bag together, then pull it out gently.

4. Find Your Vacuum’s Filter

If your vacuum has a foam sleeve around its filter, this is called an air-cushion seal. If you have one of these, look on the back of it for a dial. This is your adjustable air flow dial, and you can use it to reverse your airflow. If there isn’t an “air-cushion seal” on your vacuum’s filter, your filter is probably located inside the bag compartment, either under or over the dirtbag (the main cylindrical part of your vacuum). You can release the dirtbag and take it out to find the filter.

5. Turn Off Your Vacuum Again

6. Remove Any Dirtbags or Filters

For those with an air-cushion seal, turn the dial to shut off airflow through this piece and remove it from your vacuum’s hose. If your vacuum has a bag compartment, you can remove it to access the filter inside.

7. Reverse the Airflow by Unscrewing Your Filter

If your filter is under or on top of your dirtbag, find its small nub and turn it so that the open end points away from the airflow direction arrow printed on the metal filter.

8. Reassemble Your Vacuum Cleaner

Put your filter back in, if needed, and snap the dirtbag or bag compartment into place. Make sure that you’ve turned off your air-cushion seal before you put it back into place! Gently turn its dial to adjust airflow until the desired direction is facing out.

9. Turn Your Vacuum Cleaner Back On and Test the Airflow Direction Again

Now that your airflow has been switched, you can test your cleaner to see which way works best for you. Remember: when in doubt, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions!

Turn Your Canister Vacuum or Shop-Vac into a Blower

Most homes have a bagless vacuum which is made up with a plastic cylinder, flexible suction tube and internal filter. Like upright vacuums, bagless ones also come with an adjustable dial that can reverse airflow.

Remove the Motor from Your Vacuum Cleaner

If you want to turn your vacuum cleaner into a blower but don’t feel like taking the time to switch the airflow direction of its parts, then try removing the whole thing and turning it around. Some flexible suction tubes detach from their motor with a simple twist and pull. Turn your vacuum cleaner on, put your hand over its exhaust and turn it counterclockwise to detach the tube. If removing your vacuum cleaner is not an option, you can also try turning its motor around from inside to outside so that its airflow pushes objects away from the unit instead of sucking them in.

Canister Vacuum with Bag-Type Filter

Turn the dial on an air-cushion seal to shut off airflow and unplug your cleaner. Turn your canister vacuums lid counterclockwise and lift it up. Disconnect the hose from its motor. Unscrew its filter from the bottom of its dirtbag or bag compartment, then turn that around so that it points inside. Turn your canister’s lid clockwise to snap its parts back into place, then plug in and turn on your cleaner to test the airflow direction.

Standard Vacuum Cleaner with Bag-Type Filter

Turn off your vacuum, unplug it and remove all of its dirtbags or bag compartments (if you have more than one). Find the filter. If it’s under, on top or inside one of your bag compartments, turn it so that its open end faces in the direction opposite to the airflow arrow printed on it. Turn your vacuum cleaner back on, plug it in and test its new airflow direction.

Why would I want to reverse a vacuum cleaner?

There are several reasons to reverse a vacuum cleaner.

The first is when you need to be blowing air out instead of sucking air in.

This way you could use your vacuum cleaner to inflate an air mattress or detect air leakage in a flexible hose.

You can also use your vacuum hose as a leaf blower.

Alongside this, if you experience issues with your vacuum bag, this can be a great way to unblock any blockages or detect air leakage, caused by sharp objects or broken glass.

Can you use vacuum machines as an air pump?

Yes if you can reverse the flow of air, you are able to blow air.

This can require some DIY work by using some duct tape, separating your interior vacuum bag and adjusting a plastic fitting or two.

Are vacuum cleaners good leaf blowers?

Some vacuum cleaners can act as a good leaf blower, if they have the required wattage.

You need a high powered electric motor in your vacuum cleaners to produce a good enough force to blow lots of air.

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