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05/12/2013 09:53 am ET

Fix A Vacuum Cleaner: The One Task You Can (And Should) Do Yourself (VIDEO)

If your vacuum cleaner is underperforming (read: not able to pick up even a hint of dirt), you might be tempted to just chuck the thing and buy a new one. Especially if, like me, your vac is a hand-me-down upright from...well, who knows when. But before you justify a Dyson purchase, check to see if your current vacuum cleaner's belts are in working order.

You'll want to unplug the thing -- as if I need to remind you, but just in case -- and turn it over. Remove the tiny screws holding the bottom plastic casing in place. You should see the belt immediately. If it's broken, you'll immediately be able to tell. It'll either be limply hanging there, or cracked. While you're there, you might as well cut off any hair, threads or any other debris wound around the cleaning brush. This is your cue to note your vacuum cleaner manufacturer and model (this is usually inelegantly written on the bag cover) and head to your local home improvement store. Certain department stores, like Sears or Target, will also have a small selection of belts. If completely clueless, just bring the broken belt and ask a helpful clerk for direction.

Once home, stretch the belt in place and replace the bottom case. Then, plug in the vac, turn it on and keep your fingers crossed. You should find that suction has been restored. Congratulations.

For a more, shall we say, technically-detailed approach to this repair, watch the video above. It's not glamorous, but hey, we're talking about vacuum cleaner repair.

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