Have you ever wondered why some vacuum cleaners seem to pick up everything in their path while others struggle to pick up even the tiniest bit of dust? The answer lies in your vacuum’s suction power, which is a key factor in how well it cleans.

Whether you already have a vacuum cleaner or are looking for a new one, you need to know how strong the suction is to make sure your floors and carpets are clean and free of allergens.

In this article, I will get into the details of suction power, explain how it works, and give you tips on how to choose the best vacuum cleaner for your needs.

So, get ready to buckle up and learn the secrets of strong suction!

Understanding Suction Strength in Vacuum Cleaners

Understanding Suction Strength in Vacuum Cleaners

The ability of a vacuum cleaner to create negative pressure or lift, which allows it to pull dirt and debris off of surfaces, is called its suction power.

It is measured in different ways, such as cubic feet per minute (CFM), air watts (AW), inches of water lift, amps, and horsepower.

The vacuum cleaner’s suction capacity shows how strong it is, while the air volume shows how much air it can move.

The suction power is the sum of the vacuum cleaner’s suction capacity and the amount of air it can move.

It shows how powerful the vacuum cleaner is.

Measuring Suction Strength

A vacuum cleaner’s suction power is measured in inches of water lift or water column (mmH2O).

This rating is based on how many inches or millimeters the motor will lift a 1″ column of water vertically when it is completely sealed.

When the motor is running, the suction capacity shows how much negative pressure (lift) the vacuum cleaner can make.

It is measured in Pascal (Pa) or millimeters of water column.

1 mm of water column is equal to 10 Pa.

Airflow, which is the amount of air that moves through the machine, is another important feature that affects how well a vacuum cleaner cleans.

It is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) (CFM).

Air Watts (AW) are the best way to measure a vacuum system’s actual cleaning power, according to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

They are found by multiplying CFM and Water Lift.

Amps measure how much electricity flows through a machine.

Watts are found by multiplying the power drawn by the voltage by the current.

On the other hand, horse power is not a good way to measure suction power.

Some manufacturers show measurements that were taken while a vacuum cleaner was sucking air.

But this method makes higher powers that can not be compared.

Sealed Suction or Water Lift Test

The water lift test or the sealed suction test is used to measure how well a vacuum cleaner can pull in air.

The water lift is measured in inches of H2O and is done by putting a tube full of water in a closed container.

In this test, the water lift is directly related to how well the vacuum cleaner can pull in air.

Choosing a Vacuum with Good Suction Power

When looking for a vacuum with good suction power, it is important to think about things like the quality of the nozzle and how much dust it can pick up.

Since there are many other parts in a vacuum cleaner that also use power, a higher wattage does not always mean more suction power.

So, a vacuum with 1200 watts may only use 400 watts to pull air in.

Also, if there are spaces between the suction brush, an attachment, the hose, or the vacuum itself, there will be multiple leaks that lower the suction power.

Vacuum Cleaners with HEPA Filters

Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters need to have greater air wattage as the air needs to be pulled through tiny holes, which requires more power.

When a vacuum cleaner bag has an extra filter, the vacuum needs higher suction power so that the air will flow outwards through all the filters.

Can a Vacuum Cleaner Have Too Much Suction Strength?

Yes, a vacuum cleaner can have too much suction strength.

A vacuum cleaner with high suction power results in more power consumption, which can cause the vacuum cleaner to overheat in a short period.

Also, it can be hard to move a vacuum cleaner that is too strong.

A vacuum can also be much harder to move if the height of the brush bar is set wrong or if the brush belt is broken.

The Importance of Suction Nozzle in Vacuum Cleaners

The suction nozzle is a crucial component of a vacuum cleaner that determines its suction strength.

It is the part of the vacuum that comes into contact with the surface being cleaned and creates a seal to suck up dirt and debris.

The design and size of the suction nozzle can affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the vacuum cleaner.

A wider nozzle can cover more surface area, but it may not have as much suction power as a narrower nozzle.

Additionally, some nozzles come with adjustable settings to accommodate different types of flooring or surfaces.

Therefore, it is essential to consider the suction nozzle when purchasing a vacuum cleaner to ensure that it meets your cleaning needs.

A well-designed suction nozzle can make all the difference in achieving a clean and dust-free home.

For more information:

Suction Nozzle 101: Types, Benefits, and Maintenance

Factors Affecting Suction Strength in Vacuum Cleaners

Factors that Determine Suction Strength

  • The suction strength of a vacuum cleaner is determined by several factors, including:
  • Airflow (CFM): This is the most important specification in terms of determining the cleaning ability of a vacuum cleaner. It is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and is the force of this airflow across a surface that picks up dirt and moves it to the dust bag or container.
  • Air watts (AW): Air watts are calculated using the formula, (Air Flow (in CFM) x Vacuum (in inches of water lift))/8.5 = Air Watts. However, there is some question as to whether this is a useful specification or just a new rating to further confuse consumers and make comparisons difficult.
  • Water lift (inches of H20): Water lift or sealed suction is another test used to determine the suction power of a vacuum cleaner. It involves a tube filled with water placed in a sealed container. In this test, the vacuum cleaner’s suction power is directly proportional to the water lift measured in inches of H2O.
  • Amps and horsepower: The amp rating reflects how much energy the vacuum is using when it’s on and has nothing to do with how well it can pick up dirt. Horsepower is also not a reliable indicator of suction strength.

The way the cleaning nozzle is made can also have a big impact on how well a vacuum cleaner cleans.

At the cleaning nozzle, dirt is picked up by the force of the air flow and the movement of the air.

With HEPA filters, more air wattage is needed because the air has to be pulled through tiny holes, which takes more power.

Lastly, there can be leaks between the suction brush, an attachment, the vacuum hose, and the vacuum if there are spaces between them.

Choosing the Right Vacuum for Your Flooring

The type of flooring affects the suction strength needed in a vacuum cleaner.

Carpets and rugs are soft, so you need a vacuum with more power than one for tile or concrete.

Rough surfaces like unfinished wood or cement can be more easily damaged by a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner.

When choosing a vacuum cleaner, it is important to consider the type of flooring in your space.

For instance, if your floors are made of wood, you will need a model that is made for wood floors.

On the other hand, you will need a vacuum with good suction power if you have carpet.

Sand and other heavy dirt are easier to remove from carpets and floors with vacuums that can lift more inches of water.

Debunking Common Myths About Vacuum Cleaners

  • There are several common misconceptions about suction strength in vacuum cleaners. Let’s take a look at some of them:
  • Myth: The higher the amps, the better the suction power. Reality: The amp rating reflects how much energy the vacuum is using when it’s on and has nothing to do with how well it can pick up dirt.
  • Myth: Heavier vacuums perform better than lighter ones. Reality: Modern technology has allowed us to have just as much efficiency and efficacy with lighter machinery.
  • Myth: Bagless vacuums are more advanced than those with bags. Reality: While it’s true that bagless technology is newer, it does not mean that it is better. There are still plenty of advantages to using a bag, and some of the top-performing vacuums still use them.
  • Myth: Upright vacuums are for carpeted floors while canister vacuums are for bare floors. Reality: Both types of vacuums can be used on any type of flooring.
  • Myth: Certain special vacuums won’t lose suction or only need their belts replaced if they’re broken. Reality: Every vacuum requires regular maintenance to keep it working at its best. A motorized fan generates suction in a vacuum cleaner by pulling dirt through a hose and into a bag or canister. To keep air flowing at optimal suction, bags need to be emptied and filters must be cleaned regularly per manufacturer instructions.

Enhancing Suction Strength in Vacuum Cleaners

What Determines Suction Strength?

The ability of the motor to create a vacuum that pulls air through the cleaner is what gives a vacuum cleaner its suction power.

The airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), is what moves dirt away from surfaces and into the dustbin or bag.

The size and type of dustbin do not directly affect suction strength, but they can impact the vacuum cleaner’s filtration system.

Filtration System

The filtration system of a vacuum cleaner can be affected by the type of dustbin or bag it uses.

A bagless vacuum cleaner uses cyclonic action to spin dirt and hair around, separating it from the air before collecting it in a clear plastic bin.

Bagged vacuum cleaners use bags made of porous material that lets air pass through but traps dirt and debris inside.

As a bag fills with debris, its pores become clogged, reducing airflow and suction power.

So, it is important to replace bags often to keep them working at their best.

Features That Enhance Suction Strength

To enhance suction strength in a vacuum cleaner, there are several features to consider.

One of the most important is suction power, which is determined by the motor’s efficiency and power.

Even if a new vacuum only has half the power of an old one, it still has the same suction power.

Airflow is another thing to think about.

It is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and shows how well a vacuum cleaner can clean.

The better a vacuum can pick up dirt and move it to the dust bag or container, the more airflow it has.

Floor Contact

Suction strength is also affected by how much contact there is with the floor.

If there are spaces between the suction brush, an attachment, the vacuum hose, and the vacuum, there will be multiple leaks that lower the suction power.

Suction can also be affected by the quality of the hose and how the nozzle is made.

Other Features to Consider

Another important feature that indirectly affects suction strength is filtration.

All vacuums have high-efficiency filters that keep the dirt they pick up from going back out into the environment.

How well dust is filtered can also depend on the type of dust collector.

Other things to think about are the motor power, noise level, design and structure (weight and dimensions), maximum reachable distance, maneuverability, bag or bagless design, HEPA filtration system for air quality, and handy features like an upright brush that cleans a larger area than a power nozzle or floor attachment.

Suction Strength and Pet Hair

Suction strength is a crucial factor in the performance of a vacuum cleaner on pet hair.

The dirt is moved away by the airflow, but it is picked up by the suction.

The speed of the airflow is what makes the dirt move.

The more suction a vacuum has, the quicker it can move a given volume of air.

People often use the terms “water lift” or “vacuum” to talk about vacuum suction.

Pet-specific vacuums have covers on their bristles to keep pet hair from getting tangled and matted, so they can not pick up extra fur until they have been cleaned well.

These machines are typically bagless so that they do not lose suction over time.

Bagless options offer numerous benefits compared to bagged vacuums when pet hair is involved because vacuums cannot suck well if their canister or bag is full to capacity.

Maintaining Suction Strength in Vacuum Cleaners

Maintaining Suction Strength in Your Vacuum Cleaner

  • To keep your vacuum cleaner working at its best, it’s important to maintain its suction strength. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Empty or Replace Dust Collection Bag Regularly

One of the easiest ways to make a vacuum cleaner work better is to regularly empty or replace the bag that collects dust.

As the collection bag gets full, less air can get through, which lowers the pressure and suction power.

Dust containers need enough room for air to flow through them.

If they don’t, they could get clogged and have less suction power.

When the dust compartment is 70–80% full, you should check it and either empty it or change it.

Remove Clogs or Obstructions in Vacuum Hose

Clogs or obstructions in a vacuum hose can also lead to poor suction.

To make a vacuum cleaner work better, take off all of the hoses and attachments.

Pull out any objects lodged inside, as well as items or debris visible in the vacuum.

Reattach all hoses and attachments to enjoy improved suction.

When you clean out your hoses, you not only improve the vacuum’s suction power, but you can also make it run better and last longer.

Clean Filters Frequently

Another way to keep a vacuum cleaner’s suction strong is to clean the filters often.

The suction of a vacuum is made by leaving the path open so that air can flow freely.

If filters are dirty, they will block airflow and make it harder to pull air in.

Every three months, or more often if needed, filters should be cleaned.

Basic Repairs and Routine Maintenance

Last but not least, taking care of your vacuum cleaner by doing basic repairs and regular maintenance can make it last longer and work better over time.

This includes checking for loose or damaged parts, replacing worn-out belts, and lubricating moving parts.

By doing these simple things, you can keep your vacuum cleaner’s suction power strong and keep it working well for years to come.


In conclusion, the suction power is one of the most important things to think about when buying a vacuum cleaner.

It tells how well the machine will clean your floors and carpets.

But it is important to remember that suction power alone does not mean your house will be clean.

Other important factors include the type of brush roll, the way it filters the air, and how easy it is to move.

As a vacuum cleaner owner, it is important to take care of your machine on a regular basis to make sure it works well.

Clean the filters, brush rolls, and dust bin often to keep them from getting clogged and causing the vacuum to lose suction power.

In the end, a vacuum’s suction power is only one piece of the puzzle.

It is important to think about all the things that make a home clean.

So, before you buy your next thing, do some research and compare models to find the one that fits your needs best.

Do not forget that a clean home is not just about the tools you use; it is also about how hard you work.

So, buy a good vacuum cleaner and make sure your home is clean and well-organized.

With the right way of thinking and the right tools, you can make your home clean and healthy for you and your family.

Looking for a new robot vacuum?

Choosing a gadget can be very difficult if you know nothing about the technology.

Some will pay for features they do not need while others may not consider what they really want.

So I created this quick, newbie guide to help you focus on what is really important to you:

The best robot vacuum for you.

My article on the topic:

Mastering Vacuum Suction Power: A Beginner’s Guide