Dirt Devil M085530 Featherlite Bagged Upright Vacuum: A Review

I bought this unit at Wal-Mart in 2003, and it stopped working in early 2008. Given that its price of (if memory serves) about $54 signifies that it was pretty much a “low-end” model, I’ve read that such models shouldn’t be expected to last beyond about five years and I sometimes used it to vacuum carpeting with fibers continually embedded with my late golden retriever’s longish hairs, I suppose I should rate it “three stars” instead of “two stars.”

However, I still feel that any well-made vacuum cleaner costing more than $50 should last a bit longer than (slightly less than) five years; and given several “tolerable but vexing” operational quirks (that I’ll explain below) that began occurring not so long after I’d bought it, well, I can’t quite bring myself to assign a solid “average” rating, despite the fact that I actually rather liked its overall configuration and cosmetic appearance.

One reason that I chose this model was its wooden “brush roller” (within the “floor nozzle”). I’d read that wooden (or metal) brush rollers were more likely (than plastic brush rollers) to resist heat-induced warping over time. In retrospect, I wonder how significant that feature actually was. What was more significant to me was that this vacuum cleaner’s brush roller tended to require major cleaning rather quickly whenever I’d use it to vacuum a carpet with a medium nap; moreover, its belt occasionally tended to get slightly out of position upon the wooden roller. And although my unit’s belt never fully broke, it always appeared on the verge of doing so during the last two years of this unit’s life.

Moreover, on a couple of occasions the base of the unit got totally and seriously clogged, requiring me to take considerable time to remove various little screws to disengage the “retainer clips” beneath the floor nozzle. [I always thought that those retainer clips could’ve been better designed such that their temporary removal could’ve been quicker and less vexing; nevertheless, they made for pretty durable attachment.] To remove those serious clogs, it was necessary to insert the hose nozzle of my garage’s “Shop Vac” to forcefully suck out the lodged debris from this Dirt Devil unit.

Moreover, this was always an unusually LOUD vacuum cleaner; and its noise only increased during the final two or three years of its life. Indeed, it got so loud that the neighbors in the next house possibly could hear it; and I literally had to use earplugs while vacuuming.

Inserting and removing bags was pretty easy and routine. And an appreciable amount of vacuuming could be achieved before a given “Dirt Devil Type D” bag needed replacement. But now that I’m replacing this unit with a bagless model, I’ll be pleased never again have to deal with the additional expense and hassle of running to the store for still more disposable bags.

Nevertheless, I’ll somewhat miss this old friend. More often than not, it managed to vacuum my house’s medium-nap carpets–during those years that my beloved golden retriever still thrived–rather effectively with no insurmountable hassles. I could vacuum several sizable, carpeted rooms before finally needing to change the “Type D” bag. Removing or inserting a bag was pretty easy. The foot-controlled “power” and “angle” switches were reliable and easy to use. It’s so-called “brilliant headlight” was an amusing, albeit trivial, feature (though it stopped lighting after about the first two years), and its color and style satisfied me very well, especially given that this model cost scarcely more than the cheapest bottom-end models. I’d consider buying yet another Dirt Devil-brand vacuum if the price were right and the design were bagless.

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