Can a Canister Vacuum Cleaner Catch Fire? 3 Simple Tips to Prevent It

All vacuum cleaners generate heat. If you use a canister vacuum cleaner to clean an entire room, you will notice that the area near the motor gets significantly hot. The longer you use your vacuum, the hotter it gets. But is this heat normal? And more importantly, can a canister vacuum cleaner catch fire due to this heat?

Yes, canister vacuum cleaners can catch fire but not under normal circumstances. A vacuum cleaner can catch fire if it overheats, and its automatic shut-off mechanism fails. It can also catch fire if you use it for cleaning ash from the fireplace or wood stove. The same thing will happen if you use it to vacuum combustible substances as well. There are also instances when vacuum cleaners catch fire due to faulty design and manufacturing errors.

Can a Vacuum Cleaner Overheat? What Causes a Canister Vacuum to Overheat?

A canister vacuum cleaner normally generates heat when it is used. If you run it for a few minutes and touch the part near the motor, it will feel warm. However, there are cases when the canister vacuum cleaner can overheat.

A vacuum can overheat for several reasons. First, a vacuum can overheat if the filter is clogged and does not allow adequate airflow into the canister to cool down the motor.

Second, a vacuum can overheat if there is too much hair wrapped around the beater bar in the carpet brush roll. A clogged canister can result in a vacuum overheating.

The next reason for a vacuum to get overheated is when it is used to clean up something that is very flammable such as gasoline. Gasoline can cause some vacuums to overheat and stop working properly. Only use a vacuum cleaner if the canister is empty or has been cleaned of dirt and hair.

If you use the canister vacuum cleaner at high speed continuously for more than fifteen minutes, it can generate too much heat. Normal wear on the motor can also cause the vacuum to heat up quickly.

Additionally, if the filter bag or canister becomes too full, the dust and dirt inside might overflow and get into the motor and other moving parts of the vacuum cleaner. If this happens, the motor may overheat.

Can Overheating Cause a Canister Vacuum Cleaner to Catch Fire?

Most of the modern vacuum cleaners have an auto shut-off mechanism. This powers down the appliance when overheating occurs to prevent accidents and serious damage to the vacuum cleaner.

Many observe that their vacuum cleaners shut down after a few minutes of using it at high speed. That is the mechanism preventing the motor from getting damaged due to excessive heat. Once that happens, you need to wait anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to be able to use the appliance again.

Unfortunately, if this mechanism fails to engage, the vacuum cleaner can generate heat that may be enough to start a fire. This can get dangerous especially if it has flammable objects in the filter bag or canister. 

Can a Canister Vacuum Cleaner Catch Fire for Any Other Reasons?

Besides a faulty safety mechanism in the vacuum cleaner, your appliance can also catch fire if you use it to pick up ash from your fireplace or wood stove.

The heat from the ash alone can melt any plastic or rubber component inside the equipment. A stray ember can also set fire to any flammable object inside your vacuum cleaner bag.

You should never vacuum combustible substances. This appliance mostly runs on electricity. If you try to suck up combustible substances like kerosene or gasoline, electricity can cause it to ignite.

There have been reports of vacuum cleaners exploding because the owner tried to use them for vacuuming spilled combustible materials!

Another possible fire-risk can come from the manufacturer’s faulty design. There have been recalls for specific models of canister vacuum cleaners due to their power cords being pulled loose. There have also been recalls because the motor of some vacuum cleaner models easily overheated when their dust filter got blocked.

How to Prevent a Canister Vacuum Cleaner from Catching Fire?

The first thing that you need to do is to maintain your vacuum cleaner properly. Clean out the bag or container after every use. Avoid allowing the bag to become too full or else the overflow might go into the other parts of your vacuum cleaner and clog up the moving parts.

Always check your appliance for obstructions. Check the attachments, hoses, filter, and even the brushes. Clumped pet fur and wet dust can prevent the proper airflow in the vacuum cleaner and cause overheating.

If you clean out your vacuum cleaner regularly but it keeps on overheating, you may need to bring it to a service center. A technician will be able to determine if anything is wrong with any of the appliance’s components.

You should also avoid using your vacuum cleaner to clear up ash and debris from your fireplace or wood stove. For this task, you will need to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for the job. Never vacuum anything combustible!

Finally, keep an eye out for any recall announcements. Check if your vacuum cleaner model is included in the list given out by stores and manufacturers.

Final Thoughts

Can a canister vacuum cleaner catch fire easily? Well, if you have recently purchased one, then it should not catch fire easily. Fire hazards will only occur if the machine is improperly maintained or used. There are also a few cases when the manufacturer released a faulty design, but these are already getting recalled. So, if you use your vacuum cleaner properly, there is no need to worry about it catching fire.

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