Reasons why vacuum cleaner keeps shutting off and why does it smell?

Vacuuming your home seems simple with vacuum cleaners. You only need to plug it in a power outlet, switch it on, and start cleaning. 

The more simplistic it feels to use, the more complex is its internal machinery. It comprises numerous components that work in perfect unison and coordination for providing robust cleaning efficiency.

The vacuum machinery is prone to wear and tear as time passes by. Your vacuum cleaner gives certain signals when it needs a repair that indicates its ongoing health.  

Let’s discuss two such signals regarding vacuum malfunctioning, including when the vacuum cleaner shuts off and when it starts producing a smell.

Why does the vacuum cleaner keep shutting off?

The two most common reasons that cause your vacuum cleaner to shut off are motor’s overheating and electrical faults.

Motor Overheating 

When your vacuum cleaner gets shut off it may be due to motor overheating. So what to do when your vacuum’s motor gets overheated? It requires simple remedies, including cooling it off and de-clogging the pathway. 

A vacuum cleaner comprises a powerful motor that works rigorously to generate the suction power for picking the dust, dirt, and other debris. 

Due to continuous working, the motor may get overheated and needs to be cooled off for functioning efficiently. Another reason is the clogging in the tube that causes reduced airflow leading to motor overheating.

To protect the electric motor from melting away due to overheating, the vacuum cleaner has a built-in thermal mechanism that automatically shuts off the cleaner if it detects that the motor is getting too hot.


The simple solution is to let your vacuum cleaner cool down for 10-15 mins. Try again to see if it is functioning well. Insert 10-15 mins of break intervals between vacuuming sessions that last more than 30 mins.  

If your vacuum cleaner gets shut off after a few minutes every time after turning it on, it indicates the presence of clogs in the system. Check out how to clean your vacuum cleaner?

To fix this issue, you need to thoroughly check the tube, filters, dust bags, and intakes for the presence of any clogs that are blocking them. Remove the clogs and clean the airflow pathway.

Take out the tube from the cleaner and clean it completely using dry microfiber cloth and rinse it with warm soapy water. Leave it to dry completely for 24 hours to avoid any dampness or moisture.

The presence of even little clogs may cause slow overheating of the motor by blocking smaller portions of the air pathway.

Also, check the filters for clogs. The clogged filters may also cause motor overheating. Clean your filters if they are washable. If your filters are too old, replace them with new ones. 

Electrical Faults

The corded vacuum cleaners unlike cordless vacuum cleaners are powered by electricity. Hence any electrical faults may lead to its shutting off. 

If there are no clogs present in the vacuum cleaner, it indicates the presence of electrical faults.


The electrical issues with your vacuum cleaner are more serious and complex in nature. If not immediately treated, they may cause immense harm to your vacuum machinery. 

Sometimes, the faulty electrical sockets may also cause shutting off of the vacuum cleaner. Try plugging your vacuum cleaner at different power points. If you find issues with any power outlets, you need to call your electrician. 

Check your vacuum cords to see if any cuts are resulting in loose connections between the power outlet and your vacuum cleaner. 

The electrical faults may range from issues with power switches to the electric motor. It’s recommended to call the qualified electrician to sort the issue quickly and ensure its long-lasting service.

Why does a vacuum cleaner smell?

A vacuum cleaner may emit different types of unpleasant odors. This smell signals the presence of issues with your vacuum that needs proper redressal.

Let’s discuss the different reasons that make your vacuum cleaner smell.

Vacuum Drive Belt producing burnt rubber smell

The burnt rubber smell is produced when your vacuum’s drive belt is broken.

When you detect the burnt rubber smell, immediately turn off and unplug your vacuum cleaner. Now check the belt if it is broken. Replace it with a new belt if required.

In some cases, the carpet fibers, strings, or hair also get entangled with the belt and restrict it from moving the brush roller. 

For such cases, clean the belt by cutting down the strings, fibers or hair using a pair of scissors and remove them using an old toothbrush. 

If your vacuum cleaner’s belt gets stretched, consider replacing it. You may also opt for metal belts that last longer.

Clogs and blockages producing a burning smell

The presence of clogs or blockages also leads to the production of smells from a vacuum cleaner. 

During vacuuming, if any object gets clogged between the belt and brush roller, it would emit burning odor.  For such issues, you need to power off the vacuum, unplug it and remove the clogs or blockages slowly. 

Know which things you should not clean using a vacuum cleaner here.

Faulty brush roller producing a burning smell

A faulty brush roller that is broken or malfunctioning may also produce a burning smell. 

Check your brush roller thoroughly after turning off and unplugging the appliance. 

Replace the brush roller with new ones, if required, or call your vacuum cleaner technician for fixing the issue.

Faulty motor producing burning rubber smell

If you detect that there are no issues with the belt and brush roller and yet your vacuum cleaner is emitting burnt rubber smell, it may be due to faults with the electric motor. 

Fixing the issues with the electric motor requires technical expertise, and you need to call a qualified vacuum cleaner technician for sorting it out.

Read vacuuming mistakes to avoid to ensure the long life of your vacuum cleaner. 


You can depict a lot about your vacuum cleaner’s health using its indicators such as smell and its unexpected shutting off.

You need to take the utmost care of your vacuum cleaner by periodically cleaning it. Empty its canister or replace the dust bags regularly. Clean the filters, beater bars, and its various attachments diligently.

If your vacuum is functioning properly, you may use some scented vacuum tablets or cotton balls with essential oils for rendering a pleasant fragrance to your vacuum.


Dolly Savla

Dolly is a part of the content creation team at Her strength lies in creating content about sports, fitness and lifestyle. Creating art, drinking coffee and reading books, makes her happy when not working with reviews.

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