Glossary of Terms

3M Filtrete filter
Filtration designed by 3M that traps the same size particles as HEPA cartridges (.3 microns) but flows at a fast rate. Effectively traps allergens and dust generally with less expensive replacements.

ABS construction
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. High impact resin vacuum body construction that allows for high strength with lightweight.

Activated Carbon
Powdered or granular carbon used for purifying by absorption

A rate of flow measured b mass or volume power unit of time typically rated with CFM.

Air Watts
A true measure of suction. It is determined by the combination or Airflow (CFM) and Waterlift (H2O) divided by 8.5.

Substances that can cause reactions to peoples within the respiratory system or skin. Particles typically in the .5 micron size that can cause allergies.

The amount of electrical current going through the motor. Twelve amps is the highest allowable in the US for a single appliance on 110 volts. That comes to 1300 watts.

A negatively charged ion

Capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms

Automatic Cord Winder
Allows rewinding of the electrical cord by pressing a button. Adds some weight to the unit.

Bare Floor Nozzle
Used to clean bare floors. Hard nozzle is designed to increase airflow directly under the nozzle to suck up particles. Performs well on hardwood and linoleum. Cannot be used on walls or on tile very well.

Bare floor option/selector
Selector on the base of an upright that stops the agitator from rotating to go onto flooring. A rotating agitator will not work well on bare floors.

Brush Roll
AKA Beater Bar. Roller Brush is the part of a vacuum cleaner which contains rows of bristles and sometimes beater bars to agitate the carpet in order to significantly aid in the removal of dirt/dust.

Bypass Motor
Motor that diverts airflow straight into the bag. Particles or possible objects do not go through the fan or motor. Also increased suction with tools.

The type of vacuum cleaner that houses the suction motor and filtering system in a somewhat square or rectangular container. Typically incorporating a “clean-air” system, they are known for producing strong suction for use with the attachments. A canister type vacuum cleaner usually contains wheels which allow it to be pulled after the user by its hose.

Cubic Feet per Minute. The specification typically used to indicate the amount of air flow which will pass through a vacuum cleaner power unit when running by itself. Airflow can relate to suction but suction does not relate to airflow. (Rating not available for most vacuums)

Cog/Gear Style belt
Belt that has teeth or cogs. A no slip design of belt that is much more expensive but rarely requires replacement.

The use of circulating air in a circular motion to drive particles to the bottom of a dirt chamber. Keeps airflow unrestricted and allows for the chamber to be emptied manually, not requiring the use of vacuum bags.

Dirt Sensor
A laser or light beam that detects particulate or debris passing into the vacuum.

Electric Hoses
A special type of vacuum cleaner hose which has internal wires which carry the 120v electrical current to run the powerhead’s motor, for carpet vacuuming.

Electrostatic Filter/Bag
A type of filter or bag consisting of very fine synthetic fibers on which a static electric charge builds as air passes through. The charge draws the smallest allergen and dust particles, helping the filter in retaining them.

Factory Serviced
A product returned to the factory where it was repaired of any defects, thoroughly tested, and then repackaged in a factory carton. The defects were spotted by a dealer who sent the product back to the manufacturer or the product was damaged in shipping.

The fan or impeller that creates the actual suction in a vacuum cleaner.

Filtration Efficiency
The percentage of particles retained by the primary filter as air passes through it. The efficiency increases as the size of the particle increases.

HEPA filter
High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor. Cartridge style exhaust filter that traps particles in the .3 micron range. Typical allergens are in the .5 micron range. Good for allergies and low dust emissions

HEPA Type Filter or bag
A type of filter or paper bag that uses similar construction or fibers to that used in a true HEPA filter. While being a significant improvement over regular filters, the vacuum that uses it may not have a completely sealed filtration system, so there is no guarantee that the stringent HEPA specification will be met by it.

Rating used for engines (such as gasoline), not for electrical motors. Should never be considered in a vacuum purchase

Turning an atom into an ion by giving the atom a positive or negative electrical charge.

A metric unit of measure equal to one millionth of a meter.

Motor Brushes
In a vacuum cleaner motor, the motor brushes are carbon rods which are held against the commutator in order to carry the electrical current to the windings on the armature. They are often called “carbon brushes” as well.

Paper Bag
The paper bag in a vacuum cleaner is made of a special paper into which the dirt and air are directed as part of the filtering system. The paper used is specially processed to permit the air to pass through it while retaining as much of the dust and dirt as possible.

An extremely tough and strong synthetic plastic with the ability to maintain its shape and size even under great stresses over a wide range of temperatures. It is an ideal engineering plastic since it can be injection molded, blow molded, or extruded.

Power Nozzle
A special attachment for deep cleaning carpets. It incorporates a revolving brush roll similar to that used in the upright type of vacuum cleaner and an electric motor to drive it. When using a power nozzle, the electric motor actually adds power to the cleaning system. A power nozzle should not be confused with a turbine nozzle. When a turbine is used instead of an electric motor, the power to drive the brush roll is actually removed from the air flow, reducing the velocity of the air flow through the system.

Sealed Suction
AKA Water Lift, the suction measured when there is no air flow through the suction motor. This is done by completely blocking the inlet of the motor or vacuum cleaner with the gauge. It is a measure of the potential developed when the motor is running at its maximum speed. It is often also referred to as “water lift.”

Self Propelled
A transmission driven by the motor helps to power the machine and loco mote it. Allows for forward and reverse movement with little effort on the part of the operator.

Turbine Nozzle
A special attachment for cleaning lower to medium pile carpets. It incorporates a revolving roller brush similar to that used in the upright type of vacuum cleaner and an air driven turbine to drive it. When a turbine is used instead of an electric motor, the power to drive the brush roll is actually removed from the air flow, reducing the velocity of the air flow through the system. When using a power nozzle, the electric motor actually adds power to the cleaning system.

Turbo Tool
A hand held tool with an air or suction driven brushroll. Also known as Turbo Hand Tool.

ULPA filter
Ultra Low Particulate Arrestor. Filter that traps microns at the .1 level. Excellent for allergies and is approved extreme jobs such as asbestos or lead dust.

A total vacuum is the absence of everything, even air. Vacuum cleaners actually create a partial vacuum, or more accurately, an area of reduced air pressure as air moves outward within the fan. Air Flow is created as air with normal air pressure moves toward the area with the reduced air pressure.

Voltage (Volts)
Electric potential or potential difference, expressed in volts. It is the push and pull of the potential difference between two points which causes electrical current to flow through a wire or device which is connected across them. The voltage in a typical household electrical outlet ranges from 110 to 120 volts.

Water lift rating
AKA Sealed Suction, the amount of sealed suction. Rates in inches. How high a vacuum would pull water up a one inch diameter tube. This rating does not mean that a unit can vacuum water. It is only a measurement of suction.

Standard measure of electricity. Amps x Volts = Watts. A watt takes into account the amperage and voltage together. 1300 watts is the highest legally in the US for one appliance on 110 volts.