Thread Number: 38658  /  Tag: Recent Vacuum Cleaners from past 20 years
Thermax Vacuums
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Post# 410862   6/24/2019 at 08:50 (279 days old) by jfrank (NC)        

Anyone have any info on the Thermax vacuums, in particular the AF1? I am thinking of replacing my Rainbow with one, as I am tired of all the hoses with the Rainbow, plus really hate how short the hose and cord is on the Rainbow. I also like that everything is in one unit, no separate tank for shampooing the carpet. It says it's a "steam" cleaner, but does anyone know if it actually heats the water in the tank?? Seems like not as I can't find any info on how hot it would make the water. There isn't much online about them, a handful of reviews, mostly very positive, but 2 that say it doesn't have any suction. Seems like the company got out of the carpet business and now only sells cheap Chinese air "purifiers".

Post# 410867 , Reply# 1   6/24/2019 at 14:15 (279 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        

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I wouldn't suggest them. I had one years back that I purchased off ebay. The airflow was just pitiful. It's large size made it like dragging a coffee table around. The carpet cleaning function was so so. To my knowledge it does not heat the water, and the pump was somewhat wimpy.

If you must have a water filtration unit, I'd suggest looking into the newest model rainbow it uses 1 hose for both wet and dry pickup. The new shampooer will most likely out clean the AF1 due to having a rotating brush.
There may be some other decent water units on the market but I'm really only familiar with these two.

Post# 410873 , Reply# 2   6/24/2019 at 19:01 (279 days old) by Jfrank (NC)        
I bought it!

So I decided to go ahead and buy it. Was only $100 and the guy delivered it. Plus it has all the pieces. Wasn't expecting much after what the above commenter said, bit his unit must have been broken or not put together properly because this thing is awesome! Keep in mind I've been using an E series Rainbow for the past 3 months, cleaning every week. And yes it's impressive how much dirt it continues to pick up week after week, but this Thermax pulls even more! Was shocked how much more grit it got out of the carpets. I had actually got to the point where the rainbow had pulled out all the grit it could.s. It was kind of funny because I couldn't get the power head to work, I thought it was just weak but decided to open it up and the belt had stretched, and Thermax was nice enough to have a spare inside waiting for me! There is one thing that I don't like about the machine, there is no way to carry it with water in the tank. Trust me I tried and got water inside the motor. The way the handle is on the side if you pick it up the water runs out the container and into the motor. Poor design. Makes it hard to deal with transitions in the floor, whereas with the rainbow I'd just pick it up. Also the cord on this is actually shorter than the rainbow which really sucks. And even though the hose is a couple feet longer, one foot of it is on top the machine and is basically unusable. I do like the much smaller footprint, I can sit it up on end and it takes up very little space compared to the rainbow, it's 3 hoses, and tank assembly.

Post# 410881 , Reply# 3   6/25/2019 at 00:54 (279 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

I had BAD luck with the two Thermaxes I bought from the Kirby trade in pile-As far as vacuuming-the Kirby will beat thermax anyday.The machine was just too heavy,awkward to use.Thiunk these machines were intended to be furniture cleaners NOT vacuums.I sold mine to a vac place who needed them for parts to fix a Thermax a customer brought in.Glad yours works out!I gave up on water trap machines because they are awkward,messy,and time consuming to use.IE dumping and filling the tanks-bins,emptying those after use and cleaning them out.My Rainbows and Hyla sit in the back corner.Interesting-but don't like using those.

Post# 410883 , Reply# 4   6/25/2019 at 02:34 (278 days old) by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

kirbylux77's profile picture
JFrank - First of all, let me congratulate you on the purchase of your Thermax AF1. If you're happy with it & how well it cleans, great.

However, regarding what Devin, Blackheart, said in his reply to you, I totally agree with him. The Thermax vacuums have always looked bulky & poorly designed to me. And let's not forget that Carl Parise, the founder of Thermax, started out designing & manufacturing carpet extractors, NOT water filtration vacuums. It was merely a afterthought, & looking at early models vs their extractor designs, I would bet they heavily based their designs on their existing extractors & made modifications to make it into a workable water filtration vacuum. To me, they look like a design that would perform poorly, & I have also only heard bad things about them, not good.

The other problems you are going to encounter is maintenance & getting repair parts. Since the Thermax does not have a separator & relies on filters, you will find it's a LOT more hassle than the Rainbow to use & clean up after on a daily basis. Also, Thermax changed ownership a few years back, & they released a newer model, the AF2, that looks cheaply built, & there hasn't been much news coming out from the company. I also don't personally know where there are any existing DTD distributors for the company, & that would prove problematic in getting repairs done. Based on the lack of recent news or any information from the company, I would bet they are one of the many DTD brands that is either just hanging on by a thread or they have already gone out of business.

For those reasons, I would 100% hold onto your Rainbow E Series.

Now, as for the complaints about your Rainbow that made you buy the Thermax. If you want a longer hose for the Rainbow, they do make optional 14 foot & 30 foot hoses available. I have linked to them below. As for the power cord being too short, you could take the Rainbow into a vac shop & have them fit on a much longer cord.

As for your observation that the Thermax seems to be picking up more dirt than the Rainbow does, the reason for that has to do with the power nozzle design. Rainbow redesigned their power nozzle for the D4 Performance Edition model, so that the belt is in the middle instead of at the sides. Unfortunately, due to the way the air path is designed, it also chokes off some of the vacuum's airflow. That's the reason why your Thermax is picking up more dirt - it uses a conventional power nozzle design with the belt off to 1 side, instead of in the middle, so the air path is a conventional design & does not choke off the vacuum's airflow. I would suggest trying the power nozzle I linked to below, that will greatly improve the Rainbow's performance on carpet. Both the Thermax & the Rainbow should produce about the same amount of suction & airflow, so that shouldn't be a factor as for why the Thermax cleans carpet better. It is made by Wessel Werk, a German company that supplies power nozzles, floor brushes & rug/floor nozzles for the central vac industry & for many OEM vacuum manufacturers like Miele. A quality design that will last a long time, with the added benefit of a geared belt that should last the lifetime of the power nozzle.

Your Rainbow is a really good vacuum, if you prefer water filtration vacuums it is one of the better makes. I would strongly suggest you hold onto it & make the improvements I pointed out so you will be more satisfied with it. You may find that you like both vacuums equally as much, you won't have wasted your money buying the Rainbow, & you will already have a backup vacuum for when the Thermax does die & it cannot be repaired.

Best of luck


Post# 410885 , Reply# 5   6/25/2019 at 06:41 (278 days old) by jfrank (NC)        

I do agree that the Thermax (AF1) is ugly. It's basically a dark green box on wheels. But I don't buy things for looks. As far as weight, I really think it's similar to the Rainbow, at least when empty. It does hold twice the water so that's a factor. One thing about the Thermax is the castors are much better quality than the Rainbow and it glides over hard floors. At first I was concerned about pulling the unit around with the hose, because that hose holder thing looks super flimsy, but it seems to be more sturdy than it looks. I read somewhere about people complaining about the switch, because it's smaller and harder to operate, but I appreciate that! I was constantly accidentally turning the rainbow off because that switch is so easy to operate. Oh, I forgot to mention, another thing I prefer on the Rainbow is the trigger for the power head.

I'm not sure about the airflow and suction of the Thermax vs Rainbow. I should compare them but not sure how since I don't have any kind of testing equipment. But to me it seems like the Thermax has much more airflow.

I looked at the links for the longer hose and better head for the Rainbow, but no way would I spend $300 for those on a machine I bought for $150. I do however like the idea of splicing in a longer cord, never thought about that, although it would be a problem winding up a longer cord on the existing cord holder.

I have yet to try the wet function of the Thermax, but it HAS to be better than the Rainbow! The Rainbow Aquamate for the E series is complete junk. For one, I bought a unit that was new, never been used. Granted it was probably at least 10 years old, but the thing didn't work out of the box. The tube inside the unit was damaged. And good luck getting that thing apart! They made the clips so they could be inserted, but never taken back out. Had to whittle the clips down with a razor knife so I could get it apart. Not to mention that the external tubing, though new, was already deteriorating, it all had this sticky feel to it from the material breaking down. And the spray head for the Rainbow looks and feels like a toy. The Thermax seems like an actual carpet extractor (which makes sense since that's how they started). Plus I will appreciate the Thermax's double water capacity. I will probably hold onto the Rainbow for a while, actually I'll probably list it for sale for $300, if someone is willing to pay that I'll part with it. But don't really need it as a backup since I have a Kirby G4 that I paid $80 for several years ago.

Post# 410910 , Reply# 6   6/26/2019 at 10:32 (277 days old) by Dysonman1 (Rolla, MO)        

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The late Clay Floyd, my best friend and a trusted authority by many club members and vacuum collectors, once called my Thermax a “Rube Goldberg” invention. The filter under the water bucket was always dirty. The airflow reduced considerably as dirt is picked up. Dragging the machine is like dragging a coffee table behind you. Forget about cleaning stairs ever. It’s downfalls as a vacuum cleaner are many. I got so tired of mine one day, I threw it in the trash truck, where it belonged.

Post# 410912 , Reply# 7   6/26/2019 at 12:20 (277 days old) by jfrank (NC)        

I don't know, I checked the filter after cleaning my house and all that was there was a couple pieces of dog hair and a little dried leaf. I will agree with you about the stairs, but then again what water machine can you do the stairs with?? I have a Rainbow as well and it's not any easier. And the rainbow isn't any easier to drag around either, although I do like the top handle on the Rainbow much better! One thing I like much better about the Thermax vs the Rainbow is the water tank! It's so much easier to carry a bucket with a handle to the toilet instead of the Rainbow's open top flying saucer, haha! I've spilled that thing so many times when trying to empty it.

Post# 410933 , Reply# 8   6/27/2019 at 08:50 (276 days old) by jfrank (NC)        

I'm beginning to see why some people don't like this machine. Used it for a second time yesterday and cleaned some carpet that hadn't been cleaned since we moved in a year ago, and the previous owners had 2 big dogs. When I went to dump the bucket I noticed a lot of dirt on the filter. It hadn't broken through the filter to the other side, but was much more than the first time I used the machine. When I went to dump the bucket I realized why. There was a LOT of dog hair and carpet fiber in the water, so I took a good look at how this machine works. Basically it's putting a vacuum on the space above the water, which in turn sucks air through the hose and down the tube, into the water. There are 2 small holes drilled at an angle at the bottom of bigger tube, which I suspect causes a cyclone of water in the lower part of the big tube, constantly circulating "clean" water from the bucket. Problem is it doesn't take much hair or carpet fiber to clog these 2 holes. At this point the cyclone stops, and the vacuum is probably enough to pull some air directly out of the water before it has a chance to be cleaned by the water. Not to mention that the hair and fiber now has nowhere to go and builds up in the tube, making the bypass problem worse. This explains why there was a big ball of hair and fiber at the bottom of the tube, and why there was dirt build up on the filter. I guess the big benefit of the flying saucer tank in the Rainbow is it doesn't have any small holes that the water needs to flow through, it just has the big hole where the air comes in and is forced into the shallow water. I think the Thermax would filter fine without any dirt making it to the foam filter if there wasn't a lot of hair or fiber being sucked up. So it looks like if I continue to use this machine I will have to change the water a couple times per floor. The bad thing is there is no way to know when this clogging is happening.

Post# 410998 , Reply# 9   6/29/2019 at 08:29 (274 days old) by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
thermax vacuum

This machine does not have a separator, I know I would never have one. If you want a water vac at a good price, consider the Sirena or the Quantum. Both machines are as good as the Rainbow if not better and cost much less.

Post# 411000 , Reply# 10   6/29/2019 at 08:43 (274 days old) by rugsucker (Elizabethton TN)        
'Thermax' from Regina!

The Henry Co has had much interesting and informative vac literature on EBay and has now listed information on an imitation of a Thermax type machine by Regina having an Elektricbroom power nozzle as part of the dry vacuuming attachments.You have to see this to believe it.Looks like it should be in the Hall of Shame next to the first upright Housekeepers.

Post# 411011 , Reply# 11   6/29/2019 at 12:19 (274 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        
For those wondering

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The Regina in question was the System 3

Getting back on topic. I've been wondering you said you have been using an E series. Is it a single or dual speed model? I think you should try using the thermax head on the rainbow if possible the Stock Rainbow power nozzle really limited the machine's flow. The rainbow should be stronger, unless it's hepa filter is really dirty.

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