i chose my repair place based on the yellow page ads: "orem vacuum" had the largest, and the guy had a nice smile. i dropped it off and eyed the other vacuums on my way out. they had a decent-looking panasonic (they make vacuums?) for $416. suddenly i wasn't so interested in that anymore.
i was working on a subaru commercial on the salt flats when i got a call from the repairman: the broken part of my vacuum is one that the company does not make, and my best hope is that they'll give me a $25 trade-in credit.
i suspected it was time for a new cleaner (mine always gave off a slightly funny smell when i used it), and decided i could budget about $100 for one. if i wanted to be really frugal, wal-mart had some for as low as $38. on the other end, a website ("vacuumwizard.com", i believe) rated a $1,000 model as the best choice. that seemed obscenely expensive, but i've learned a little about vacuum cleaners since then. gather 'round, and hear my tale....
- while i did not do an exhaustive search of utah valley, i did scope out a few specialty shops. any fear of the fast-talking vacuum salesman was unfounded; instead, i learned a lot of what to look for as i went back and forth between "A-1 vacuums" and "orem vacuums", both on state street. the two stores are friendly with one another, which is something i appreciated.
- "orem vacuums" had a nice old guy who sounded like president packer and who threw the vacuum--one-handed--across the room, to show how tough it was. "a-1" has a friendly lady who took off the bag and vacuumed over several cloth balls, shooting them across the room as a demonstration of how the system works.
- if you love buying a vacuum cleaner, go to wal-mart or target, because you'll be buying one every few years from them. they've got hoover, eureka, and dirt devil: all names that i recognize from the price is right. and they look like they could be transformers, in bright colors and with lots of stickers pointing out all that they can do. they're also as must plastic as they can be, and belong in oversize cracker jack boxes.
- never get "bagless"/"dirt cup" models, no matter who makes them. they're the worst.
- in contrast to the superstore rainbow-colored models, the pricey ones at the vacuum stores looked, well, boring and old fashioned. of course, that's what i thought about criterion's dvd cover art when i first discovered them. let that be a lesson: the quality speaks for itself. between the one that resembles your grandmother's and the one that looks like it possibly runs on nuclear fission, trust grandma. (during my journey, i deduced that kirby's are about the best around, which explains why my parents' have had it about as long as they've had me. that's a seriously good machine.)
- vacuum cleaners work in one of two ways: those without attachments use "direct air flow", meaning that the dust goes straight from the carpet through the fan into the bag. the other kind--dang, i forget what it's called--is utilized in cleaners with the attachments (the cleaning hose) built in. the air flow completely bypasses the fan area and travels through the hose into the bag. some say that this prevents dust from getting into the fan and motor, although it's minimal in the direct flow models.
- the direct flow system gives you more suction for much less electricity. those with a hose give you the option of not needing a secondary vacuum for the difficult to reach areas. the highest-end cleaners have two motors and utilize both systems; if you've got $1,000 to spend, this will speed up your cleaning.
- go metal over plastic. metal floor plates can get bent out of shape, but definitely get a metal roller: they last longer and the brushes can be individually replaced.
- the best brands i saw were sanitaire, panasonic, and solitary. leave the plastic stuff to the kids.
in the end, i bought a solitary for just over $300. i love it.