Thread Number: 16628
Thumbs down on the Hoover Windtunnel 2 bagless
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Post# 177336   4/16/2012 at 22:43 (2,907 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

At least from my viewpoint. As I've mentioned here before, I acquire cast-off vacuum cleaners to refurbish and sell. To this end, I've learned to concentrate on certain abundant makes/models to maximize experience factor and minimize labor. Into this formula I try to imbue ease and economy of parts acquisition. Of course what will sell is a major factor. So I wind up working on lots of plastic Hoovers and Kenmores that are between 4 and 10 or 12 years old. Rarely do I work on any of the later, Chinese Hoovers. There are the odd Kirbys that come along and some others. Only a couple of Eureka models, and only one Bissell (the "Lift Off") which sells well. Don't want anything to do with working on Oreck or Dyson. Anyway, lots of Hoovers and Kenmores.

Once in a while a machine will come along that I haven't worked on before and I don't know anything about. Since I get the cast-offs for very little cost, sometimes I will buy this to me unknown machine just to see if it has potential to be fruitful in my work. The other day, the matter of the Hoover Windtunnel 2 bagless came about in this fashion.

The specific model number of the machine was U8351900. It was made in 2006. It was the "Extra Reach" model that came with an accessory hose and floor attachment. I use the past tense here because most of the machine went to the dump today with a bunch of other vacuum cleaner husks from parts donor machines. My post mortem quickly convinced me that the Windtunnel 2 isn't something I want to refurbish.

The Windtunnel 2 is a combination of other Hoover designs, none of their best in my own opinion. To start with, Hoover's advertising says "Self-cleaning HEPA filter cleans itself every six seconds to maintain cleaning power. You never have to touch or replace the filter." This just isn't true. The self-cleaning feature is derived by having the filter rotate in contact with a pawl that trips along the pleats of the filter. This is supposed to vibrate the dust back down into... where? The dirt cup has a hard, primary screen to keep the big stuff in the cup; it also tends to block such dust that might otherwise want to fall downward. The only other filter this machine had was a very basic little foam exhaust filter. Where was all that dust supposed to go? It goes back up into the filter again until it clogs. This isn't just my opinion; there is a video on Youtube where a disgruntled owner shows how he must clean the packed filter out manually every so often with a screwdriver. The filter cannot be removed by the owner for regular maintenance. Oh, and when the filter gets so jammed full, it binds and ruins the little motor/gear drive that turns the filter for "self-cleaning."

Now this rotating, supposedly self-cleaning filter idea came from the Hoover Z series, but those could easily be removed for manual cleaning (required). If you're handy enough to get to one on the Windtunnel 2, a replacement filter costs around $70.

Next there is the rather complex floor nozzle. The brush roll design on this takes after that of the Hoover Windtunnel self-propelled in the U6400 and U6600 series, both of which take two belts. The Windtunnel self-propelled takes a flat belt which drives the power drive unit, which in turn drives the brush roll via a small v-belt. Since the Windtunnel 2 has no power drive, it has an intermediate pulley driven by a serpentine belt off the motor capstan; the intermediate pulley in turn drives a v-belt that turns the brush roll. I've worked on quite a number of Windtunnel self-propelleds and this rigging is the downfall of the design. On the Windtunnel 2, Hoover advertises that the machine has a "lifetime belt." Which one? Certainly not the v-belt that drives the brush roll. Is the lifetime belt like the lifetime filter? Anyway, the bottom end on these machines is rather complex with lots of parts.

Now for the third design feature adopted from a previous Hoover model. That is the clear plastic brush roll housing. The Windtunnel 2 has taken this design, in part, from the ill-starred Windtunnel Dual V/V-2 models, the U8100 series. The plastic used in both cases is of poor composition. It embrittles at an early age, breaks apart, and components cannot be held together. The screw holes crack, break off, and fall away. I've gotten pretty good at Mickey-Mousing repairs using epoxy putty on the U8100 series from time to time, but why take on another model with this problem?

Hoover has made a bagged version of the Windtunnel 2, and this no doubt lacks the filtration problems inherent to the bagless design of the same machine. However, without having examined one, they likely use the same bottom end as the bagless and therefore have the same issues there.

Many consumers have no idea what the patented Windtunnel name implies. The Windtunnel design only refers to a certain way the channels in the brush roll housing area are made. The Hoover idea (if I'm not mistaken) was to equalize the force of the vacuum across the width of the floor nozzle. So many modern vacuum cleaners have a vacuum intake port biased to one side or the other, with the exception of a few dual port designs. Hence there are a great many Hoover products that bear the Windtunnel name, with many variations in other design features. Their common feature is in that one specific area of the floor nozzle.






Post# 177337 , Reply# 1   4/16/2012 at 22:54 (2,907 days old) by sebo_fan (Scotland, UK, member AKA ukvacfan, & Nar2)        

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The way I see it is, in layman's terms the Windtunnel concept is merely providing two equal suction channels compared to one. They claim it increases better pick up - but unless the actual dual suction channels both travel to the bag or bin independently, I've never been that convinced by the claim on the basis that the suction channels just taper off into one dust channel, usually just behind the removable hose at the bottom of the machines or wherever the dust goes when its picked up from the floor head.

Whilst we don't have the same Hoover models in the UK, the new Vax Mach Air has snatched Hoover's Windtunnel name and used it as one of their features. Whether that justifies the impossible aspect I get each time I try and vacuum with the auto adjusting upright on a hard floor with the brush roll switched off and the floor head literally sticks to the floor and is impossible to move without brute force being a condition of "windtunnel" dual channels is unknown, but it certainly plays close to the concept.


Post# 177361 , Reply# 2   4/17/2012 at 09:16 (2,907 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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I think we are missing the true intent of the WindTunnel brush cavity design:

The Hoover designers wanted to provide a "shelf of suction" at the front of the nozzle because when a bristle wipes a fibre of carpeting, dirt has a tendency to fling back in the opposite direction. A brush roll sweeping in the direction of the motor will fling a lot of dirt towards the front edge of the vacuum and when you pull back, you leave dirt behind. By segregating a separate suction channel over the brush roll and ending at the front edge of the nozzle, you can capture a lot of that dirt that has been flung forward. It actually works very well! Most vacs with a WindTunnel nozzle configuration have consistently removed dirt better than others in Consumer Reports testing - even the canister with the WindTunnel power nozzle.

I have heard that TTI has been a little devious in using the word WindTunnel on Hoover vacs that actually don't have the segregated suction channel. Not sure if this is true, but buyers should check the underside of any Hoover they buy to make sure it actually has the real WindTunnel brushroll cavity with the front edge suction channel.


Post# 177362 , Reply# 3   4/17/2012 at 09:17 (2,907 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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I think we are missing the true intent of the WindTunnel brush cavity design:

The Hoover designers wanted to provide a "shelf of suction" at the front of the nozzle because when a bristle wipes a fibre of carpeting, dirt has a tendency to fling back in the opposite direction. A brush roll sweeping in the direction of the motor will fling a lot of dirt towards the front edge of the vacuum and when you pull back, you leave dirt behind. By segregating a separate suction channel over the brush roll and ending at the front edge of the nozzle, you can capture a lot of that dirt that has been flung forward. It actually works very well! Most vacs with a WindTunnel nozzle configuration have consistently removed dirt better than others in Consumer Reports testing - even the canister with the WindTunnel power nozzle.

I have heard that TTI has been a little devious in using the word WindTunnel on Hoover vacs that actually don't have the segregated suction channel. Not sure if this is true, but buyers should check the underside of any Hoover they buy to make sure it actually has the real WindTunnel brushroll cavity with the front edge suction channel.


Post# 177367 , Reply# 4   4/17/2012 at 09:35 (2,907 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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oops - sorry for the double post!

Post# 177382 , Reply# 5   4/17/2012 at 14:53 (2,907 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

In having taken apart a lot of Windtunnels, that separate channel on the leading edge of the floor nozzle is often clogged with debris. Often this material is not so large but arrived at via cumulative effect. So the idea of avoiding brush fling-back is, if effective, obtained at another peril. Of course, efficient dirt capture is governed by more than brushroll housing design. The senior Hoover Windtunnel bagless machines in the U5700, U6400 and U6600 series (for example) have terrific suction -- when the filter is clean. When the filter becomes filthy and neglected, no enhanced nozzle design is going to mitigate against poor suction. In the past, I've noted Hoover's claim that the Windtunnel system is supposed to direct the dirt more effectively; I also believe dual and tapered forward channeling does tend to have some equalizing effect on vacuum across the width of the nozzle. But that may not have been Hoover's intention, hard as it is to believe their engineers wouldn't have gone after any form of improvement.

In the end, for most consumers the Windtunnel effect is more of a gimmick effect. I say this because the idea is used to sell them on the machine (at least in many cases) but typical consumer sloth works against its effectiveness. They buy this machine with an enhanced nozzle design, then never clean it out so the effectiveness is lost. Worse, they never clean the filters and the machine goes to the junk prematurely. It's all well and good to read about this or that product in various consumer advocate sources; to get full service out of their purchase (be it a vac or an automobile), follow-up is required in the form of proper care and maintenance. That's often where consumers drop the ball.

Then there is always the exception to the rule. I had a Hoover Windtunnel (U5700 series, very common) given to me recently. The carpet elevation gear was broken, the husband had taken the bottom apart, then quit and bought a new machine. When I got it, I noticed that the dust bin was exceptionally clean. In fact, it looked like it had been washed out. The filter was very clean, also appearing to have been washed. When I emailed the donor back to thank him again, I noted the clean dirt bin and filter. He responded by saying his wife always washed out the dirt bin and the filter after every use. Very rare.


Post# 177387 , Reply# 6   4/17/2012 at 15:10 (2,907 days old) by szymonrules (Philadelphia, PA )        
:(

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Dang it! I was looking for a Windtunnel II for so long!

Post# 177406 , Reply# 7   4/17/2012 at 18:10 (2,907 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Gary -

We had a Self-Propelled WindTunnel Ultra Bagged upright for over 10 years in my parent's apartment. The condo was covered wall-to-wall in thick plush carpeting. In all the years of checking the belt and removing the brush roll to wash the "brush-window" clean, I never, ever encountered a clog in the separate WT airpath over the brush roll. The only place that seemed to gather fibres was the small stretch of WT channel that is located at the short brush edge right next to the belt. The suction is probably weakest at that far end of the channel.

I can not comment on the flaws of bagless designs, and the lack of maintenance of filters on the part of owners of bagless vacs. I prefer bagged cleaners because they are easier to maintain.

I now own a Hoover Tempo Widepath that also has a WindTunnel brush cavity, and it too never has never clogged in the 2 years I've owned it.

I am the first to be sceptical about manufacturer's claims, but I really think the "proof is in the pudding" here. Unlike many other people, I trust the basic parameters of test design that Consumer Reports uses to rank deep carpet cleaning ability in vacuums. Every single Hoover vac that uses the WindTunnel brush cavity has delivered excellent results in their laboratory tests ever since the design was introduced.


Post# 177409 , Reply# 8   4/17/2012 at 19:14 (2,907 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

I can only speak to my own experience. Perhaps we could get Consumer Reports to do follow-up evaluations, selecting machines at random that have been in service for many years. Including some sitting in the dealers' trade-in piles.

Too bad I haven't kept a rogue's gallery of some I've worked on. Strangely enough, the middle range Windtunnel uprights (U-5400 series, et al) do not seem to clog as much as the higher-end machines. The channeling is a different design.

Szymonrules: I'm certain the bagged version of the Windtunnel 2 is a better selection than the bagless. If you look for one, try to get an example with the latest date you can find. Could be improvements were made along the way, such as in plastics composition. It's not unknown for manufacturers to respond mid-production to consumer complaints.


Post# 177410 , Reply# 9   4/17/2012 at 19:35 (2,907 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Consumer Reports never claims to offer the buyer information on the durability of a certain product. They can only offer information as to what may be a better performing product when new "out of the box." They will also down-grade a product that consistently comes damaged when new "out of the box." They did that with the early shipment of the Hoover Duros canisters (something about a faulty bag holder).

They indeed survey consumers to create a "Brand Reliability" ranking to give consumers some idea of the general history of repairs needed for products coming from a certain manufacturer. The basic questions for vacs are: "Which vac have you bought new in the last year? Has it had a problem that needed repair?" And indeed, Hoover is not one of the most reliable manufacturers for uprights - Kirby, Kenmore and Dyson have better repair histories for upright vacs.

I think there may be other common sense factors as to why you may be seeing certain brands of vac lying in the "trade-in" pile. People who don't care to maintain the things they buy are the ones who are constantly replacing their household goods. It's faster for them to just buy a new item than to repair an old one. And though Consumer Reports will place a good-performing budget vacuum higher in the rankings than a good-performing expensive vac (to help save consumers money), there may be another factor involved here: those who spend $1000 on a Kirby will be more careful with their purchase, then those who spend only $200 on a Hoover. But that kind of influence will happen in any product category, and Consumer Reports does not include that in rating the new vacs in the stores.



Post# 177416 , Reply# 10   4/17/2012 at 20:45 (2,906 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

You are right.... Most consumers think that Windtunnel means bagless!

I have a Z and I'm here to tell you that the filter is not easy to get out for manual cleaning.... though it is required! You have to remove 6 screws, a plastic sheild, and a gasket to get the silly thing off and put it back in just so or it won't spin.... I usually resort to running the machine with the bottom dirt cup off and vacuuming the spinning filter with the hose of my Dyson DC 14, but it doesn't get everything.... the little paper clip that is supposed to clean the filter barely gets anything at all... the only way to really clean the stupid thing is to dismantle the machine and knock the daylights out of the it... and dirt falls all over the machine when you are taking the filter off.... a mess to be sure!


Post# 177425 , Reply# 11   4/17/2012 at 22:31 (2,906 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I've owned a couple of different WindTunnels in the past, and I had problems with dog fur clogging the one narrow channel on both.


Post# 177426 , Reply# 12   4/17/2012 at 22:38 (2,906 days old) by normvac (COLUMBUS, OHIO)        
Windtunnel, Hoover

I would have to speak up in support of Eureka Prince and his experience with Hoover Windtunnels. I have used (until the past 2 years) a windtunnel, as a second to my Kirbys for daily, weekly use. I have recommened them to friends and
family. All bagged, and with heavy use on carpet and attachments, with an extension hose. I had
few to no complaints or any service issues in the past decade. I feel that is
the best recommendation I can make to the folks that ask.. As well as being the
first (me) to hear about any problems, or repairs that need to be done. Other
than belts, bags and the short hoses on the machine. They just keep on Sucking
amazingly well.
Just my personal experience and in put !
Norm


Post# 177451 , Reply# 13   4/18/2012 at 00:53 (2,906 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

Vacuumfreeeke, perhaps I should've said "easier" on the Z series. You must do quite a bit of disassembly to get the WT2 filter out. According to their advertising, it's never supposed to need removing so they just didn't provide for it. Too bad the basic design is so flawed. I've worked on the Z series before and was absolutely shocked to see what a filter replacement costs. Fortunately, those filters are very robust and will withstand cleaning.

Perhaps some of you have gotten the erroneous impression that I do not like Hoover Windtunnel, which isn't true. I like the product and it's one of the machine designs that I concentrate on in refurbishment. I wouldn't do that if I didn't like the overall design, the inherent quality/price ratio, etc, etc. Like everything in life, they aren't perfect. Plus, of course, they are abundant. If I thought they were inherently bad, I wouldn't take them on to resell just as I won't abide several other brands (names of which I will omit lest I further offend). However, I won't be taking on the WT2's for reasons stated.


Post# 177472 , Reply# 14   4/18/2012 at 04:33 (2,906 days old) by vacuumfan96 (Oxford, MI)        
Windtunnel technology.

I am quite positive that the Hoover Tempo has windtunnel technology as well.

Post# 177482 , Reply# 15   4/18/2012 at 10:25 (2,906 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Hey Gary! No offense taken! :-)

It's always valuable to have an intelligent exchange of ideas and comments on a particular vacuum cleaner, and I have enjoyed chatting with you in this thread...really! :-)

I guess it all boils down to the kind of person using the vac. Some vacs are designed very simply and are built like tanks so they can withstand abuse and neglect by sloppy careless owners - even if they are not the greatest cleaners in the world, nor the easiest cleaners to use.

Then there are better performing vacs that are really easy to use - but if not cared for according to the manual, will die an early death. The original bagged Hoover WindTunnel upright is an excellent series of vacuum cleaners - they just need the minimum regular maintenance to keep them running (check the bag, the belts and the brush roll every few months.)

A wealthy, impatient, careless vac user, would rather work a vac "into the ground" for a year or two and exchange it for a new one. More responsible people like me who do not want to fill our landfills with perfectly good appliances would rather be careful and take care of what we own. I don't mind taking a toothpick to the WindTunnel suction slot every few weeks just to make sure nothing is clogging the air passages....takes two minutes to do.

Look forward to meeting you in person one day, Gary! :-)


Post# 177566 , Reply# 16   4/19/2012 at 05:06 (2,905 days old) by jmurray01 (Scotland)        

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Note to self: Don't buy a Windtunnel 2 Bagless!

I NEVER believe anybody who says something is "lifetime". Nothing lasts forever, least of all HEPA filters!

And a lifetime belt ? What were HOOVER on when they wrote that ? Rubber certainly DOES NOT last forever, as the ozone produced by the motor hardens it and eventually wears it beyond its service life.

Lifetime belt my back side, and lifetime High Efficiency Particle Filter ? Yeah right!





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