10 Tips to Maintain Tristar Vacuums

Tristar or Compact Vacuum Cleaners have been around since the early 1940′s, and in our opinion they are in the top 10 as far as dependabilty, performance and durability. Pricey? Yes. Dealer support lacking? So we’ve heard. But, in spite of that, we have found that the Tristar vacuum will last a minimum of 20 years if properly maintained. It is not uncommon to see a 40 year old TriStar still going strong. We had a Compact model in the shop 2 weeks ago from 1964 that just needed a little TLC and it was up and running again. So, here’s 10 simple maintenance tips that should help to ensure that your TriStar Vacuum will be the last vacuum you ever buy.


  1. Belt.Older models came with a flat belt. Flat belts like the one pictured here will stretch over time. This will make your brushroll slip and you will not get the proper agitation of the carpet fibers to get that deep down dirt out. You should change a flat belt every 6 – 10 months to keep this from happening.  Newer models may have a cogged or geared belt. Cogged belts should last for many years and do not need to be changed unless they break.
  2. Brushroll. Hair, string, yarn or any other fiber that gets wrapped around your brushroll is going to make it less effective. Remove these materials often. Use a seam ripper or a pair of scissors. Also, remove the end caps and clean the ball bearings on each end. After 4 or 5  years, you may find that the bristles are softer and shorter. When that happens, it is time to replace the brushroll.
  3. Power Cord. Not really much to maintain here except maybe an occasional wipe down.  Some cautionary tips should be followed though. Always make sure to go to the outlet to unplug it; NEVER pull the cord out from a distance.  Don’t pull the vacuum by the cord. Check occasionally for scuffs and cuts.  Minor abrasions can safely be covered with electrical tape, but if the cut is deep enough so that you can see the copper wire you should replace the cord before using the vacuum again.
  4. Hose. Most TriStar hoses are vinyl covered. Vinyl will last longer if it is cleaned with some kind of protectant. About once a year, clean the hose with a product like Armorall® to keep the vinyl from drying out.  Store your hose on a semi-circular hose hanger to avoid sharp bends and kinks.  Don’t vacuum up large objects such as wood chips, wads of paper, kid and pet toys or anything that could clog it.
  5. Wands. Older model Compact and Tristar Vacuums had a single metal wand with a button lock and a plastic cord channel. These require no maintanance  except an occasional wipe down. Newer EXL, MG1 and MG2 models have 2 plastic, snap-together wands. Over time, dirt and grit will build up inside the plastic wands at the point where they snap together. Inspect the portion of the wands where they join the hose handle, the power nozzle and each other. Wipe this area down with a damp cloth inside and out to remove the dirt and grit. This will help to avoid excessive wear and keep the connections tighter. Inspect the brass pins that carry the electricity. If you see oxidation or scorch marks, remove it with some very fine emory cloth.
  6. Cloth Bag. The cloth bag inside your TriStar vacuum is actually a filter. You should always use a disposable paper bag inside the cloth bag and throw the paper bag away when it is full. After about 6 paper bags full, you can turn the cloth bag inside out and shake out any accumulated dust or vacuum it clean with another vacuum cleaner. Never wash the cloth bag as that will reduce it’s filtering capacity. Cloth bags should last for several years and are relatively inexpensive to replace.
  7. Motor Filter. Remove the paper bag and the cloth bag and you will see another filter in a plastic frame. This is your motor filter. Changing this filter regularly will add years to the life of your motor. We recommend replacing this filter after every sixth paper bag.
  8. Exhaust filter. Tristar exhaust filters filter fine particles that escape from your vacuum. They actually don’t provide any protection to the vacuum itself.  However, if your exhaust filter is not changed regularly, it will becomes blocked with dirt and could restrict the exhaust air which will make your motor work harder and run hotter. Check your manual for maximum usage, but change them at least once a year.
  9. Floor Brush. Both the old metal floor brush and the plastic floor brush on the EXL, MG1 and MG2 TriStar models have replaceable bristles. They are very easy to replace. Don’t throw the brush away, just replace the bristles.
  10. Body. The body is virtually indestructible unless you drop it off a truck. Almost no maintenance required. Just wipe it down to keep it clean.

Finally; get your TriStar professionally serviced about every 4 or 5 years by a reliable Vacuum C leaner Repair shop. This service should include a thorough cleaning of all components, a complete inspection of all parts, motor disassembly and cleaning/lubrication.