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Vacuum Cleaners/Bissell Proheat 8910 won't suck

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QUESTION: Hi Lisa!  I'm an all experts volunteer too, in insurance matters.
Anyways, my Bissell isn't sucking, and the spraying thing isn't turning, but seems to be spitting out liquid.  I checked the floor nozzle cover, and noted that that thin gasket that fits in the groove of the floor nozzle was very smashed and worn. Looking to get a replacement for that, but while checking FAQ's on Bissell's site, it looks like problem may be deeper.  When turning on the unit, putting my hand on the small square rubber hole where the floor nozzle cover fits over, I have no suction.  Waah.  I'm pretty savvy- if I can take apart the front end of a riding lawnmower and replace it, I'm pretty sure, with direction, I could probably fix it. Hoping to not have to take it in, it's quite a ways away, and since I'm handy, thought I'd give you a try. :) Hoping you have some ideas. :) Denise

ANSWER: Hi Denise!  How great is this help site that even two experts can submit questions?  I think it says a lot about the integrity of AllExperts.com, don't you?  
 Anyway, well, your problem is one of my store's most frequently addressed.  Bissell carpet cleaners, be it the regular ProHeat, or the 2X, all have the same design flaws (of course, Hoover has its own unique problems also).  Let's start with the spray function first, because the little red thing should always spin.  As the liquid flows through the reservoir on its way to the carpet, it spins the red thing much like a waterwheel.  If the spinning red thing is not spinning, water is not going past it.  First, just check the easy stuff:  Unscrew the clear round window to remove the red "X."  Lift off also the white screen-type thing with the little post upon which the red part sits.  Rinse it off, it may have dried soap chunks slowing it.  Before you reinstall it, fill both the little soap and the water tank with plain clean water.  Check to make sure both of the valves on those tanks are good by pressing the center with a pencil or your little finger.  The water should stop flowing when you remove the pencil.  
 While you have the soap tank out, humor me and check the color of the rubber on the valve.  It should be uniformly bright red or dark black. It should not be red, fading to pink, fading to grey.  If it is, as is most commonly the case, the soap has been too strong for the pump to process.  This is the Number One problem for the Bissell!  The manufacturer instructs the consumer to use their soap, exclusively, either Full-Strength or so incredibly strong it bleaches out the seals, and CLOGS the unit in several places!  
 Every time you finish using the unit, fill both tanks with clear clean water.  Go outside.  Spray the water from both tanks completely.  This can flush the lines of any residual soap.  When the water evaporates, the soap dries hard like cement in the formula lines and in the pump and solenoid. We recommend filling the soap tank with WATER to the uppermost line, usually marked "Formula" or "Soap." The tiny little space from that line to the top of the bottle, put soap.  That's all, less than one ounce.  
 Okay, so now on to your rather unique issue of your Bissell not sucking out the water.  Besides the obvious:  it cannot suck if it doesn't spray out, there could be other causes.  When you placed your hand on the small square hole and did not get any suction, it could be because the chimney thing, that stack from the suction motor to your hand, may have been dislodged.  Doubtful, but it could happen.  The other thing to look at would be the rear of the unit.  Look where the two halves of the machine meet.  Tilt the machine gently forward, keeping the front of the Bissell on the floor.  Do you see any gaping between the upper and lower parts where they join?  Does the handle release pedal look cockeyed at all?  The screw bosses that hold the screws in place while they are tightened often break.  This makes it gap in the back and will ensure the suction seal is weakened.  
 We usually just apply two straps to hold it all together.  However, if it looks like it's holding together just fine, you have other issues.  I would suggest, in that case, you keep an eye on the sales adverts for a new unit. It can easily get to a point where it is just not worth fixing.  
  Thank you, Denise, for your question.  I do hope this helps you.  Please send me a message to let me know...     

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your help.  I do have suction out of the rectangular hole where the red filter is (yippee), and checked the soap thing- the rubber is fading, so I ran it well under hot water and worked the spring thing. Put the crappy gasket thin gasket that goes between the unit and the floor nozzle window.  The red things in spinning now, but I don't think I'm getting a tight seal on the floor nozzle window.  When I push down on it, it growls a little, but water does appear to be wanting to come up.
I'm going to order the new gasket, and the soap nozzle thingy, and see if that does it.  Thanks so much for your help.  If I'm still stuck after that, I'll get back to you. :) Denise

Answer
Hey there, Denise.  I'm sure this is something you already did early in this adventure.  The little red rectangular screen on the dump tank cover is clear, right?  Could be the window is warped a little and not getting the suction it should....
 Let me know how it goes....

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Lisa

Expertise

Please ask me any questions regarding the efficiency, durability, and value of 99.5% of today's vacuum cleaners, residential and commercial. I am able to help, also, with your residential carpet cleaners and vapor steamers. I cannot answer questions such as "how much should I pay for my vac?" "how often should I change the bag, belt, filter?" or "how often should I vacuum?" , etc. I also will not advise you how to use equipment for other than its original application; including any disassembly or modification not approved by the unit's manufacturer.

Experience

I am the owner of a well-established (sixty-plus years), family-owned & operated vacuum retail and repair business. We are a full service/warranty center for 99.5% of vacuums manufactured. I, personally, have extensive hands-on experience with today's most popular vacuum cleaners, I have not only used the vacs in my own home, I have repaired them. I have been in the floor care industry for over 25 years.

Education/Credentials
I have attended certification seminars with the industry's trade association. My education, however, has been mostly hands-on, carrying on a sixty year old tradition in a brick and mortar 'mom & pop' location.

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