vacuum smells like burning

Things to check if Vacuum Smells like Burning

Vacuum cleaners produce all kinds of smells ranging from wet dog smell to rotten eggs, mold, vomit and much more. Most often, vacuums also smell like burning. If by any chance you are experiencing this problem with your vacuum, below are the things to look out for.

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Vacuum Smells like Burning

Ideally, to address the challenge of a vacuum that smells like burning, the problem could be arising from overheating, the belt, brush and roller components, filter and bag issues, thermal overload a defective cord or electrical plug issue


One of the main culprits for burning smell in a vacuum is an overheating motor. As you might know, motors overheat for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, if the dust bag/ canister is already filled to the brim, and the filter is also overly dirty, the vacuum gets overworked.  In process, the motor also gets overworked and begins to produce the burning smell.

If you suspect this to be the case, unplug your machine and check the dust bag/ canister and filter. Throw away the dust bag and replace it with a new one.

 If your vacuum is bagless, empty the canister and clean it properly. Remember to it completely before placing it back in the vacuum.

As for the filter, clean it as well and dry it off. Follow up by placing it back in the machine. You can now resume your cleaning process.

Overheating of the motor can also result from wearing and tearing of its insulated parts. This can expose components to unattended contact thereby resulting to short-circuiting. This leads to a burning smell. Further, it has the potential to cause other problems.

Generally, if you continue to overwork a heating motor, the burning smell will persist. It will also begin to produce smoke. This is likely to cause irreversible damage. As a result, you might need to have to motor and its components replaced.

The Belt

Vacuum cleaners have a belt that is made of rubber material. Depending on how often you use your machine, the belt wears in a span of 3 to 6 months or more. Failure to replace the belt on time can cause it to produce burnt rubber smell due to excess friction.

Your vacuum belt might be new but also get burnt or produce a burning smell. This happens when the roller brush is not agitating properly. A brush fails to revolve properly if it is clogged with dirt.

To solve this problem, stop running it and let it rest for some time. Check the belt and the brush. If the belt is overstretched or broken, replace it immediately. Ensure that you check the model number so that you can get the right replacement.

If the belt is still in good condition, inspect the brush. Clean it properly by removing all the dirt, pet fur and hairs.

Filter and Bag Issues

As mentioned earlier, if excessive dirt accumulates in the bag and filter, burning smell problems are likely to arise.

Ideally, dirt begins to find its way into other components of the vacuum.  This causes unnecessary obstructions that prevent some parts from functioning properly.

 In this case, you not only need to inspect these parts but also the rest of the vacuum. Begin by changing the bag and cleaning the filter.

Follow up by checking the brushes for sticky hairs and pet fur. Lastly, check whether the hose is clear. Once the entire vacuum is cleaned, you should experience this problem no more.

Thermal Overload

Some modern vacuum cleaners are just like most of the appliances you have in your home. They are equipped with safety features that detect overheating of the motor.

This allows them to shut-off automatically when the motor overheats. The machine also resets itself and you are able to use it thereafter. However, while all this takes place, you might detect a burning smell.

Defective Cord

Sometimes when using corded vacuums, you might see it fit to lengthen the cord. This offers you better navigation especially when cleaning a large area.

On the downside, if you pick a narrower extension cord than the rated for your appliance, it might be a potential cause for overheating.  

From an electrical perspective, a narrower electrical cord or wire offers more resistance to current flow. This increase in resistance may cause the conductor to overheat. As the wire overheats, it may burn the insulation material and produce smoke.

Electrical Plug Issue

If your vacuum smells like burning even after you have inspected all the above issues, the plug could be the culprit.

The defect could be arising from a loose connection of the plug. This could be dangerous because it can damage your appliance altogether. Further, loose electrical connection has the potential to cause fire.

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