Kirby Vacuum Not Picking Up?

May 28, 2019

Kirby Vacuum Not Picking Up?

Kirby Vacuum Not Picking Up?

Kirby vacuums are known for their powerful suction, so if your Kirby isn’t picking up dirt the way it used to, you may be facing one of the common issues we address in the video below.


Important Safety Tips

  • Always make sure your machine is unplugged and the power button is turned off, before servicing your vacuum.
  • Always make sure your hands are dry and free from moisture before servicing your machine.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when servicing your machine to prevent any cuts or scrapes.
  • If you are uncomfortable working on your vacuum, please don’t hesitate to contact us at and we can help you through the process or you can send it into us to fix it for you. 


Check the Brush Roll and Settings

The first thing you want to do is check that the brush roll is spinning. Plug your vacuum in, tip it sideways so that you can see underneath, and turn it on. If it’s spinning you know that the belt is not completely broken!

Next, check to see that your vacuum is set to the right height. Lift the vacuum all the way using the larger foot pedal. Once it’s lifted you will lower it one click at a time, while the vacuum cleaner is on, until you hear the brush roll hitting the carpet. Now, lower it one click past that!

Once that’s done, you should look at the light on the side of the power head. It should be lighting up green while the vacuum is on. If the vacuum is on and the light is not green, that means the brush roll is not spinning. Typically, that means you have a broken, damaged, or worn out belt and it needs replaced.

Replace the Belt 

To replace the belt, you will start by lifting the lid.

On top of the power head you will see a sticker with arrows to show you “belt on” and “belt off.” The round part on front is called the “belt lifter” and you should see a green arrow on top and a red arrow on the side. To get the belt off you will need to align the red arrows for “belt off.” Open the tab on the front and it will be easier to turn the belt lifter. Once the red arrows are aligned you can close the tab.

Turn the release lever up above and that allows the power head to drop down. Now you can remove the head.

Look inside the power head and you should see the belt hooked (unless it’s broken.)

To put a new belt on, look for the two tab levers on each side of the head. Turn the levers to the “unlock” position. The bottom plate will fall off and you will have full access to the brush roll and belt.

Turn the belt lifter to allow the belt to drop off. Now you can remove the brush roll with the belt and discard the old belt.

Take the brush roll and slide the new belt on. When you are putting the brush roll back in, take a look at the tabs on each side. They’re numbered 1-3 on both sides. In addition, one side is larger than the other. The numbers are for fine adjustments on how far down you want your brush roll to stick. If you have a high pile carpet you will probably want it on 1. If you have a lot of low pile carpet and hardwood, you will want it on 3, which allows the brush head to protrude out more. The middle setting works the best for most situations.

You will want your preferred number showing when you place your brush roll back in the head. Make sure to orient the brush roll so that the large tab goes in the large side, and vice versa. Firmly push the brush roll in until it pops into place.

Now you need to hook the belt back on. Line up the green arrows. Grab the belt and hold it tight in position on the brush roll. This allows the belt to stick up inside the head. Turn the belt lifter and you will feel (and can see) the hook grab the belt. Keep twisting the belt lifter, which may feel a bit stiff, until you line up the red arrows.

Now it’s time to reinstall the bottom plate. The plate has two tabs that need to go toward the back of the head. On the front are two hooks that will hook onto the slots on the front. Once the plate is on you can turn the tabs back down to lock it in place.

To make it easier to reassemble, raise the height of the vacuum all the way. There are two hooks on the back of the head that hook onto a bar on the front of the vacuum. Once the head is hooked onto the bar you can pivot it back and turn the release lever to lock it into place.

Turn the belt lifter until the green arrows align and close the lid.

That’s it! You’ve properly installed a brand new belt on your Kirby!

If all of those checked out and your vacuum is still having trouble, it’s time to take a look and see if anything is stuck inside.


Check for Clogs 

Remove the head like you are going to replace the belt and check inside of it for any clogs or debris. Check the bottom of the head as well.

Then, check the front of the vacuum. The hole in the front is where all the suction happens, so make sure that there is nothing blocking it. Turn the fan in the hole by hand to make sure there is nothing stuck in it.

Next you can check where the vacuum connects to the bag. Twist the bottom connector counter clockwise to release. Take a look inside to be sure there’s nothing (like socks!) caught in it. Now, check the exhaust port on the actual vacuum.

Once you’ve checked all of that there is one more part of the vacuum cleaner that you can check – the bag itself. Go ahead and unzip it, pull the interior bag out, and check that it is not too full. If it’s more than half full you may want to change it out. Pop the bag off the fill tube and check inside of that. If that checks out, make sure there’re no clogs or large debris in the bag where the fill tube attaches. Take a look at the inside of the cloth bag and make sure it’s not dirty. If the fill tube popped off while you were vacuuming and it blew dust and dirt around inside the cloth bag that can cause a loss of suction as well.


If you’ve checked all of these areas out and you’re still having issues you can contact us at and we’ll be glad to help you out!


Here at Great Vacs we’ve serviced and rebuilt nearly 100,000 Kirby vacuum cleaners, so if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave us a comment! You can also head on over to our Youtube channel to see more educational videos.