Thread Number: 18615
Recommendations for vac for someone with back injury
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Post# 204613   10/24/2012 at 00:17 (2,723 days old) by odile ()        

Hi, I got hurt this past summer, and vacuuming with anything has been a nightmare. Learning proper technique from my physical therapist helped somewhat (seems that if you keep the machine's business end fairly close to you and work slowly, it's less strenuous, and does a better job on the carpet,) but I'm still dealing with twinges and spasms while I work. Since not vacuuming in a house that is 75 percent old sculpted loop carpet and has a beagle is NOT an option, and my budget won't accommodate a maid, I'm looking for something that will be manageable given those parameters. I'm thinking I need a full sized upright that is easy to maneuver, and I prefer something that has disposable bags. In theory, something that is self-propelled or push-assisted sounds like a good idea, but I'd be interested in knowing other people's experiences before I go shelling out the shekels! I have heard that those models are extremely heavy.

So far: I tried a friend's Kirby Sentria at her house, and nearly ended up in the emergency room, so that one is out of the question.

Right now I'm using an el cheapo Bissell Power Force upright and Mom's ancient Electrolux XXX for bare floor and non-floor cleaning. And I can vacuum for maybe ten minutes at a time.

I briefly considered a Roomba, but have too many images of the you tube video of the Roomba's interaction with a dog pile to even think of purchasing it!

I'd like to stay midrange, less than $1200, and get a new model.

Any ideas? Anyone here with a bad back (e.g., needing a spinal fusion) who has some direct experience with finding a powerful machine that isn't a backbreaker?

Post# 204622 , Reply# 1   10/24/2012 at 04:33 (2,723 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        

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Well i did some testing with 4 lightweight vacuums recently the simplicity freedom (or riccar supralite same machine) did the best of them the entry model is 199 but the performance is basically the same the premium one will do a little better though as it has stiffer bristles it also has a serpentine belt to it the other 3 models use a rubber belt
Due to the brushrolls on the freedoms they seem to pull themselves along which may be helpful.
with the freedom there is no onboard tools but they do have small canisters as well as a portable shoulder model called the sport which goes for about 100

If you are worried about the stiffness of the brushroll the Oreck XL21 took the second spot in the test though i don't think they are currently produced i know the Gold and Platinum should perform similarly to the 21

I know the lindhaus activa is supposed to be about 14 lbs it's a pretty well built machine with great cleaning performance it does have onboard tools

I noticed you mentioned self propelled machines if the kirby sentria is too much i would just stay away from self propelled machines as the mechanism for the propulsion system just adds additional weight.

Post# 204624 , Reply# 2   10/24/2012 at 07:00 (2,723 days old) by Vinvac (Dubuque IA)        

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The Oreck XL21 will do a great job for you. I think it may be called the Gold or Platinum now.

I have never used a Riccar or Simplicity, so I can't speak about them.

The Oreck does a great job and will manage the dog hair with no problem.


Post# 204625 , Reply# 3   10/24/2012 at 07:34 (2,723 days old) by dial-a-nap (Omaha - the home of the TV Dinner)        

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Oreck has an attachment for some(?) models of their cleaners that snaps onto the bottom of the machine that makes moving it on the carpet, especially longer-nap plush much easier. One of my elderly clients bought one for their XL-21 and I tried it yesterday. You may have to move the cleaner a bit slower, but you're probably already doing that anyway out of necessity.

The plate snaps on over the brush-roll opening and clips over the rubber bumper. It reduces the opening for the brush-roll and you likely lose some efficiency, but moving the machine at a slower pace will make up for some of the lost power. I checked the Oreck website just now but was unable to find it listed, hopefully it's still available.

Good luck - hope you feel better real soon!

Post# 204627 , Reply# 4   10/24/2012 at 08:00 (2,723 days old) by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        

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I really hate to hear about your back injury and I can completely sympathize with you. I too suffer from serious back problems and while I like how my Kirby performs, there are simply days that I can't even begin to move that heavy thing! Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are looking for a new vacuum right? Also, you mentioned you're using an ancient Electrolux XXX for the bare floors? I don't know if you've thought about a new Aerus/Electrolux vacuum, but they offer models that won't totally break the bank, but would be versatile enough to use throughout your entire house. I believe the base model is called the Lux Classic and it runs around $899 retail, but can be purchased for less, especially with a running trade in. I don't remember exactly what they weigh (I want to say less than 15 lbs total), but they are plastic and easy to manuever around. It comes with a power nozzle for carpeting and a bare floor tool for your non-carpeted areas. Also if you're an allergy sufferer such as myself but still love your four-legged friends, the filtration system is awesome on these machines. Just something to think about as an option, sorry for such a long reply! I wish you a speedy recovery and good luck finding a vacuum that will suit your needs.

Post# 204628 , Reply# 5   10/24/2012 at 09:21 (2,723 days old) by Floor-A-Matic (somewhere)        

What about a Kenmore Magic Blue or a TriStar? Both are powerful & lightweight vacuums that use bags.

Post# 204632 , Reply# 6   10/24/2012 at 11:10 (2,723 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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I use my Concept1 with powerdrive when back is pissed off, or Blue Magic. I can't do the Oreck, light it may be, but its hard to push on some of these carpets.I have a Linx cordless on the really bad days too

Post# 204638 , Reply# 7   10/24/2012 at 11:29 (2,723 days old) by sebo_fan (Scotland, UK, member AKA ukvacfan, & Nar2)        

sebo_fan's profile picture
Id say the Oreck XL or another Oreck upright. Either that or the new Hoover Windtunnel Air that is reasonably light but has a bottom release hose, that you wouldn't get on the Oreck alone, anyway.

Post# 204643 , Reply# 8   10/24/2012 at 11:50 (2,723 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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That machine works fine for me too, but one can forget using that hose due to it being so low when the back is pissed off

Post# 204652 , Reply# 9   10/24/2012 at 12:42 (2,723 days old) by vac-o-matic (Saint Louis, Mo.)        
My two cents worth....

I'd try the Oreck Forever Gold, formerly known as the XL21. They self-propel on most carpets, unless you have friese, or any kind of shag. The bottom plate that clips on as Greg referred to above was a quick fix for people that bought the friese when it became popular a few years ago, but it raises it up off the carpet to the point as not being as an effective cleaner IMHO. The Gold has a lifetime warranty, and three free yearly tune-ups and is online for 499.00 but we sell them for 399.99 here in the stores. I can't speak for other stores pricing, but they sold like hotcakes years ago as the XL21 for 699.00-749.00, but that did include the hand held. At our store if you add on the Ultimate hand held, it's a 100.00 add-on, but sounds like you may already be set for attachment use. Oreck has always had a 30-day return policy if it doesn't work for you, so you wouldn't be out anything for trying it and not liking it. The Gold is quieter than lower priced Orecks, and the Simplicity/Riccar versions, and personally I think built better, and I've had both, and prefer the Orecks. I'm also a little biased as I've worked for Oreck part-time about 7 years now. The key is to keep a good belt/brushroll on them as with any upright, and they will serve you well.

Post# 204662 , Reply# 10   10/24/2012 at 15:48 (2,722 days old) by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        
Panasonic Performance Plus Platinum

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Since you are looking for a new, bagged, lightweight upright, this would be my first suggestion for you. There are several "copycat" machines that have used Panasonic's basic design over the years....Fuller Brush/Carpet Pro, Simplicity, Riccar, Evolution & Cirrus are the first names that come to mind. These vacuums are around 15 pounds or so in weight, BUT the key to these uprights is the Floating Head design they use. These vacuums are VERY easy to push on the carpets, some users even suggest it feels "self-propelled". More importantly, these vacuums are a proven design....this same basic Panasonic design has been in use since the late 1970's....and getting parts for these vacuums at most vac shops or online should be easy. Bags, filters & belts should also be easy to find online, & in vac shops, & inexpensive. They all use the Panasonic Type U bags....yes, they all have their own branded bags, but since they are copies, their bags are IDENTICAL in size, bag collar opening & fit, so just use the Panasonic bags, as these should be easiest to purchase in bulk. There is a Panasonic Type U shake-out cloth bag available, for about $30 dollars, if you decide later on you would prefer bagless or the cost of bags is an issue.

As far as filtration goes....if you are concerned about the vacuum putting dust back into the air, Standard, Micro-Filtration or HEPA Cloth bags are avaiable for these vacuums. But, the HEPA Cloth bags can get pricey. For that reason, if dust or allergies are a concern, I would ONLY look at the Fuller Brush/Carpet Pro & Cirrus CR99 Pet Edition upright, as these vacuums use a good quality pleated HEPA exhaust filter. The Cirrus uprights are Sealed HEPA systems, the Fuller Brush/Carpet Pro uprights, I don't know for certain. The Cirrus CR99 has a double-stage Ametek motor, whereas the Fuller Brush/Carpet Pro uprights use a Chinese-made single stage motor, so the Cirrus would certainly be better quality.

Since you are picking up pet hair, it is best to ONLY consider uprights that have metal brushrolls, or wooden brushrolls with metal endcaps. The reason for this is that pet hair & long hair LOVES to wrap around brushrolls, & in particular can build-up around the endcaps that surround the brushroll's bearings. The friction caused by the hair can cause the endcaps to melt & deform, the plastic brushrolls can warp, & in extreme cases, can even destroy the brushroll mounts & require replacing the base of the vacuum. Wooden brushrolls with metal endcaps & metal brushrolls with replaceable strips DO NOT suffer from this issue, & should usually last right till the bristles are worn down. Metal brushrolls also have the added advantage that it just needs it's brush strips replaced, & can be used indefinitely in most cases. This is another advantage for Panasonic-style uprights....they offer metal brushrolls on the higher-end models, & Panasonic's lower-end Performance Plus Platinum upright has a wooden brushroll with metal endcaps. The Panasonic-style uprights also excel at picking up pet hair with ease.

It would also be a wise idea to go to your local library & look at back issues of Consumer Reports over the past few years....they do test for pet hair pickup, & how much winds up getting wound around the brushroll vs getting into the vacuum.

As to the suggestion offered by some here to go with the Oreck or Riccar/Simplicity 8-pound uprights....DO NOT consider these at all!! There are too many good uprights that weigh in the 10 to 15-pound range that will DRASTICALLY outclean these lightweights! That, combined with their high pricetags, make them unworthy of consideration. The Panasonic-style uprights will absolutely DESTROY an Oreck or Riccar/Simplicity 8-pound upright at cleaning carpets. In addition to the Panasonic-style upright, finding a good canister with tools & HEPA filter for above-floor cleaning to add to the mix would make an ideal cleaning combination.

I am attaching a link here to a video comparing the base model Panasonic Performance Platinum to an Oreck XL, which demonstrates WHY these are better than the Oreck, as well as it's simple design.



Post# 204668 , Reply# 11   10/24/2012 at 17:09 (2,722 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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My wife and I own a vacuum shop and we sell a few different brands but one in particular is our mainstay and we are both very fond of that brand and have been for longer than we have had the vacuum shop.

Lets get the brand thing out of the way, Asking which brand vacuum to buy on a vacuum cleaner forum is only going to get you even more confused as everyone has there favorite brand with valid reasons for them and Every one has at least one brand they think is rubbish. Kind of like going to a Chevy club and asking there advice on buying a new Ford :)
Truth is there are very few truly rubbish vacuums out there, Follow the instructions and look after it and even a $ 49.00 Bissel powerforce will last you a good few years.
My wife has a bad back, caused by two car crashes both involving the car rolling severely. She had back surgery recently and has weekly physio to help. When we first got married I had a Electrolux( Eureka ) widetrack with the back saver handle as I worked for the company, To this day she still says that was the easiest vacuum to use for her.
I do most of the cleaning at home to help her out but every now and then she vacuums, Normally when I am working late and we have his and hers vacuums, Both from our favorite brand but her one is older generation and taller than mine and against all rational thinking her one is a fair amount heavier and yet for here its easier to use than the newer lighter version.
What I am getting at here is that when people here you say back problems they will automatically assume you need a light weight vacuum but what you actually need is a vacuum that is comfortable for you to use and the only way you are going to find this is to go down to a multibrand vacuum shop ( bad back means driving around isn't much fun either so do some research online and find a store that has a large variety of models ) Next try each one out, This may sound stupid but try them out when they are on. I am always amused by customers pushing a vacuum around when its off saying , its easy to move, Its often very different when its on.

Try every one out and see how it feels to use it, Only then will you know which one will suit you. You may find that a " heavier " machine is easier to use than a light weight. Personally would recommend and upright over a canister as it will be less strain on your back.


Post# 204675 , Reply# 12   10/24/2012 at 18:36 (2,722 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

suckolux's profile picture
Well put Gareth

Post# 204676 , Reply# 13   10/24/2012 at 19:00 (2,722 days old) by luxlover (Halifax NS Canada)        
I would say

The Aerus Electrolux Fresh Era!

its very light and under 10 pound!


Post# 204680 , Reply# 14   10/24/2012 at 19:37 (2,722 days old) by KirbyUltimateG (Troy Ohio 45373 USA)        

I recommend Sanitaire SC679.


Post# 204681 , Reply# 15   10/24/2012 at 19:39 (2,722 days old) by KirbyUltimateG (Troy Ohio 45373 USA)        

Here is the companion canister. Sanitaire SC3683.


Post# 204682 , Reply# 16   10/24/2012 at 19:42 (2,722 days old) by KirbyUltimateG (Troy Ohio 45373 USA)        

I recommend getting the ball bearing Vibra Groomer II for the Sani SC679.
I recommend getting the Micron Filter F&G outer bag for the Sani SC679.

Post# 204683 , Reply# 17   10/24/2012 at 19:52 (2,722 days old) by pr-21 (Middletown, OH)        
I agree about the Lux

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I had surgery 7-31 and have not been able to lift much since then. I was not even allowed to vacuum at first. When I was allowed to vacuum but not lift much, I relied on my plastic bodied Lux's. I have a 2100 and a Lux Classic. Both are very light weight. I was able to use them without causing any harm to myself and possibly undo my surgery.



Post# 204689 , Reply# 18   10/24/2012 at 20:34 (2,722 days old) by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

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I purchased my Riccar SuperLite after a bad car accident, and then a bout with carpel tunnel.
Though this is still a Kirby house, I assure you the Little Riccar/Simplicity will do you a good job.
My main complaint with the RSL4 is it is a little delicate. This is a fan first machine or "dirty air" machine and the fan is almost a bakalite material. Other than than I have no complaints.

Panasonic has a nice, and highly rated upright that has a rear power assist that can be had in the $200 -$300 price range. This is a clean air machine and is closely related to some of the mid range Taconey machines as another option. These two machines also have above the floor tools that the Supralite does not.

Post# 204692 , Reply# 19   10/24/2012 at 20:50 (2,722 days old) by floor-a-matic (somewhere)        

Eureka "The Boss" 1934B

A nice, very good, time-tested, tried & true budget priced upright.

It'll OUTPERFORM & OUTLAST any upright vacuum under $200.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO floor-a-matic's LINK

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