Here at Great Vacs sometimes people tell us they get their Kirby Vacuum and it does not suck or pick up. That is very hard for us to take because Kirbys have amazing suction. So its never the suction and always something to do with the brushroll. What happens is either the belt is not hooked on properly or they have the belt lifter raised so that the brushroll won't turn. Another thing it could be, is that the brushroll is adjusted at the wrong height for the carpet that they are vacuuming. They go to vacuum something big up and it wont pick up because the brushroll is not spinning. They then assume its the suction. So this page is dedicated to helping people in this situation make sure that their brush roll is set up correctly for great cleaning.


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Thanks, Dustin

Disclaimer - All information that we have provided is third party information. The information contained is just what we have learned over the years from repairing and rebuilding Kirby vacuums. All information and statements are merely our opinions. All official and technical information on Kirby vacuums is not contained within this information. For that information you need to contact the Kirby company or your local distributors. We are not a Kirby distributor nor are we associated in any way with the Kirby Vacuum company. We don't claim to include all information in this document but if there is something that you would like us to add, please let us know.

First we need to understand the concept of the Kirby belt and brushroll system. Once you figure that out it will be easy to figure everything out. 



Kirby Brushroll adjustmentKirby Brushroll G4 WARNING: NEVER ATTEMPT TO PERFORM ANY TYPE OF MAINTENANCE OR WORK ON THE VACUUM IN ANY WAY WHILE VACUUM IS CONNECTED TO A POWER SOURCE. DOING SO MAY RESULT IN ELECTRIC SHOCK. Kirby Powerhead belt lifter- The Kirby system uses a belt lifter (on the powerhead) and a pulley (on the vacuum side). The point of the belt lifter is to lift off the belt from the pulley when you don't want the brushroll to spin (for example using the vacuum on hardwood). You also want to lift it off when you take off the powerhead to use your tool hose. If the belt is not lifted off when you take the head off when you go to put it back on the belt won't get put back on the pulley and then the brushroll will not spin.
Kirby Brushroll G6 What do the arrows mean? If you look at front of your powerhead you will see some red and green arrows. On the "spinner" you will see a red arrow and a green arrow. Then on the stationary part of the powerhead, you will see another green and red arrow. Now going from when the vacuum is put together correctly (like right when you get it from us) I will explain how they work. So all put together when the two green arrows are lined up it means that the belt lifter is disengaged and the belt should be on the pulley and as a result your brushroll is turning. Now by turning your spinner counter clock wise all the way the two red arrows will line up. This means that the belt lifter is engaged and that the brushroll is not spinning. In this position you are ready to vacuum hardwood or take your head off. When you are ready to put your head back on or start vacuuming on carpet again you spin it clock wise until the green arrows are lined up. That is how it is supposed to work.
Kirby Vacuum Brushroll What happens if you took the head off and did not use the above steps? This means that when you put the head back on, the belt was not engaged by the belt lifter, and so even if you have the arrows lined up correctly it won't work because the belt is not being hooked or caught by the belt lifter. So we have to re-hook it manually. We do this by taking the powerhead off and turning it upside down. We then turn the arrows so they are on green on green. Then we push a hand up from behind the brushroll and manually hook it. Once it is on the belt lifter then we spin the arrows to red on red. Then the belt lifter is engaged and the powerhead is ready to go back on. Once it's back on then we spin it to green on green and now the brushroll is turning and everything is working as it should.

Adjusting the brushroll height. The Kirby brushroll is designed to adjust its height. You start it out on a low setting and as it gets worn from use instead of buying a new one you adjust it down so the brushes are closer to your carpet for years of use. Now most people have medium to high pile carpet that they are using. So when we clean them we adjust the brushroll accordingly. What happens though if you are using a low pile carpet? Then the brushroll would not be touching the carpet and your cleaning is not as good as it could be. So this is how we adjust the brushroll. First of all you take the powerhead off and put the arrows on green and then you remove the brushroll. Now on the end caps of the brushroll you will see notches and on some models different colors. Notch one for example would mean it is at its lowest setting ( for a new brushroll and high pile carpet). Then to move the brushroll closer to the carpet you would put it on 2 or 3 notches. This will make the brushes come in more contact with your carpet. Very important is to make sure that both sides are on the same notch setting. Otherwise your brushroll will be angled. Once you are done with all of that then put everything back and put your powerhead back on your vacuum.

That's really all the information that you need. You now understand how the system works, how to take the head on and off, how to adjust the brushroll and make sure that the brushroll is spinning for best results when vacuuming. Remember to check to see if the brushroll is spinning just turn the vacuum over while running to visually inspect the brushroll turning. Never stick your fingers in the brushroll to test the brushroll. I hope this has been a help and you have many years of happy use with your Kirby vacuum cleaner.