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Why Won’t My Kenmore Canister Vacuum Turn On

If you’re frustrated because your Kenmore canister vacuum won’t turn on, you’re not alone. A malfunctioning vacuum can disrupt your cleaning routine and leave you scratching your head. In this article, we will explore common reasons why your Kenmore canister vacuum may not be turning on and provide solutions to get it back in working order.

Troubleshooting Steps

1. Check the Power Source

Before diving into complex issues, always start with the basics. Make sure your Kenmore vacuum is properly plugged into a working power outlet. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that can cause a problem.

One of the most basic yet crucial steps in diagnosing a Kenmore canister vacuum that won’t turn on is to verify the power source. This might sound simple, but it’s surprising how often this can be the root cause of the problem.

Begin by checking if the vacuum is correctly plugged into a functioning power outlet. Sometimes, in the rush of daily life, we may accidentally unplug the vacuum while using other electrical appliances or simply overlook the fact that it’s not properly connected. Ensure that the plug is inserted securely into the socket and that there are no loose connections or tripped circuit breakers in your home’s electrical system.

If you’ve confirmed that the vacuum is indeed plugged in, observe the power indicator light on the vacuum. Some Kenmore models feature an indicator light to show that the vacuum is receiving power. If the light is off, it could be an issue with the outlet itself or the power cord.

In the case that the vacuum has no power, try using the same outlet for another appliance to check if it functions as expected. If other appliances work correctly, it’s likely that the vacuum’s power cord may be faulty. However, if the outlet isn’t providing power to any device, there could be an issue with your home’s electrical supply. In such cases, contacting a qualified electrician would be the next step.

It’s essential to start with this simple check, as resolving a power source problem is straightforward and can save you from unnecessary troubleshooting and potential repair costs. By eliminating this as the issue, you can proceed to explore other potential causes of your Kenmore canister vacuum’s refusal to turn on.

Also read: why is my kenmore vacuum cleaner brush not spinning?

2. Inspect the Power Cord

A damaged power cord can be a common culprit. Look for visible cuts, kinks, or frayed areas in the cord. If any of these issues are present, it’s essential to replace the cord as a safety measure.

A closer examination of the power cord is a vital step in diagnosing why your Kenmore canister vacuum refuses to turn on. This aspect of troubleshooting is often overlooked, but it can reveal critical issues that, if unaddressed, may lead to a more substantial problem.

Begin by unplugging the vacuum from the power source. Inspect the entire length of the power cord, paying close attention to any visible damage. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as fraying, exposed wires, or cuts. Even minor damage can be problematic and potentially hazardous. If you discover any of these issues, it’s imperative to replace the cord promptly to ensure safe and effective operation.

Moreover, check the plug itself. Sometimes, the plug pins can become bent or damaged, which can hinder a secure connection to the power outlet. If this is the case, a replacement plug may be necessary.

The location where the power cord enters the vacuum is also a crucial point to inspect. Make sure it’s securely attached and free from any loose connections or exposed wires. Any damage here can disrupt the flow of electricity to the vacuum’s internal components.

Additionally, check for kinks or twists in the power cord. These can weaken the wires within the cord, leading to intermittent or no power supply to the vacuum. Carefully straighten out any kinks, ensuring that the cord lies flat and free from any obstructions.

Remember, a damaged power cord not only prevents your Kenmore canister vacuum from turning on but can also pose safety risks. If you encounter significant issues during your inspection, it’s advisable to replace the power cord with one that is compatible with your vacuum model. It’s a relatively simple fix that can restore your vacuum’s functionality and prevent any electrical mishaps.

Inspecting the power cord might seem like a minor step, but it’s a fundamental part of the troubleshooting process and can often be the key to resolving your vacuum’s power issues.

3. Reset the Overload Switch

Most Kenmore canister vacuums come equipped with an overload switch. If the vacuum overheats, this switch will trip, cutting off power. To reset it, unplug the vacuum, wait a few minutes for it to cool down, and then press the reset button.

The overload switch in your Kenmore canister vacuum serves as a protective mechanism to prevent overheating and potential damage to the motor. If your vacuum suddenly shuts off and refuses to turn on, it may be due to the overload switch being triggered.

Here’s how to reset it:

  1. Unplug the Vacuum: As a safety precaution, always start by unplugging the vacuum from the power source. This ensures that you won’t be exposed to any electrical components while handling the overload switch.
  2. Wait for Cool Down: Overheating is a common reason for the overload switch to trip. Wait for a few minutes to allow your Kenmore vacuum to cool down. During operation, the motor generates heat, and if it reaches a critical point, the overload switch activates to prevent any damage.
  3. Locate the Reset Button: The overload switch typically includes a reset button. It’s often found on the vacuum’s body, either near the motor or on the power head. Refer to your vacuum’s user manual to pinpoint its exact location.
  4. Press the Reset Button: Gently press the reset button, and you should feel a slight click. This action resets the overload switch and readies your vacuum for operation again.
  5. Plug the Vacuum In: After resetting the switch, plug your Kenmore canister vacuum back into a working power outlet.
  6. Test the Vacuum: Power it on to see if it operates as expected. If the overload switch was the issue, your vacuum should now turn on without any problems.

It’s essential to note that if the overload switch frequently trips, it may indicate an underlying issue with your vacuum, such as a clogged filter or an overheating motor. In such cases, addressing the root cause is crucial to prevent future shutdowns.

Resetting the overload switch is a straightforward process, but it’s an essential part of troubleshooting. It safeguards your vacuum’s motor and prolongs its lifespan by preventing overheating. If the issue persists after resetting the switch, it may be time to explore other potential problems or consult a professional technician for a more in-depth diagnosis.

4. Check the Bag and Filters

A full vacuum bag or clogged filters can restrict airflow, causing the vacuum to overheat and shut down. Ensure your bag is not overfilled and that your filters are clean.

The condition of the bag and filters in your Kenmore canister vacuum plays a pivotal role in its performance. If your vacuum won’t turn on, it’s worth inspecting both to ensure they aren’t causing any obstruction.

4.1. Examine the Bag

Begin by checking the vacuum bag. Most Kenmore canister vacuums use disposable bags that should be replaced when they become full. If the bag is overfilled, it can obstruct airflow and cause your vacuum to shut down.

To inspect the bag:

  • Turn off and unplug the vacuum.
  • Open the vacuum compartment that holds the bag. This is typically located on the body of the vacuum.
  • Carefully remove the bag and examine its contents. If it’s full or nearly full, it’s time to replace it. Operating the vacuum with an overly full bag not only hampers performance but can also lead to damage to the vacuum itself.

4.2. Check the Filters

Most Kenmore canister vacuums use multiple filters to ensure that the air expelled is clean and free of dust particles. Over time, these filters can become clogged, reducing the vacuum’s efficiency and potentially causing it to turn off.

Here’s how to check the filters:

  • Refer to your vacuum’s user manual to locate all the filters in your specific model.
  • Remove each filter and inspect it for dirt and debris. If any filter appears visibly dirty or clogged, it’s essential to clean or replace it, depending on the type of filter.

Some filters can be rinsed with water and left to dry before reinstalling them, while others are disposable and need to be replaced entirely.

Properly maintained filters not only keep your indoor air clean but also ensure your vacuum operates at peak performance. If filters are neglected, the vacuum may overheat and automatically shut off to prevent damage.

Regularly checking and maintaining the bag and filters is a straightforward yet effective way to keep your Kenmore canister vacuum in working order and prevent unexpected shutdowns.

5. Inspect the Vacuum Hose

Blockages in the vacuum hose can also lead to a lack of suction and cause the vacuum to shut off. Detach the hose and inspect it for any obstructions, removing them if found.

The vacuum hose in your Kenmore canister vacuum serves as a vital pathway for the suction of dirt and debris. If your vacuum won’t turn on or is experiencing reduced suction power, it’s crucial to examine the hose for potential obstructions or damage.

Here’s how to inspect the vacuum hose:

  1. Turn Off and Unplug the Vacuum: As with any inspection or maintenance task, safety is paramount. Start by turning off the vacuum and unplugging it from the power source.
  2. Remove the Hose: Detach the hose from both the vacuum unit and the attachment wand. This should be a straightforward process and typically involves twisting or unlocking the hose from its connection points.
  3. Check for Obstructions: Shine a flashlight into one end of the hose and look through the other end. Inspect the interior for any obstructions, such as debris, foreign objects, or clogs. A blockage in the hose can significantly impede suction and lead to the vacuum shutting off due to the built-up pressure.
  4. Clear Any Blockages: If you identify an obstruction, use a long, flexible tool like a straightened coat hanger or a specialized vacuum hose brush to carefully dislodge and remove the blockage. Be gentle to avoid damaging the hose.
  5. Inspect the Hose for Damage: While the hose is detached, carefully examine it for any cracks, splits, or tears. Even small damage can impact suction power and cause your vacuum to malfunction. If you find any damage, it’s advisable to replace the hose to maintain optimal performance.
  6. Reattach the Hose: Once you’ve ensured that the hose is clear of obstructions and damage, reattach it securely to both the vacuum unit and the wand.

A blocked or damaged hose is a common issue that can cause your Kenmore canister vacuum to shut off or underperform. Regularly inspecting and maintaining the hose ensures that your vacuum operates at its best and prevents unexpected shutdowns.

By following these steps, you can effectively troubleshoot and address hose-related issues that may be preventing your vacuum from functioning correctly.

6. Examine the Motor

If none of the above steps solve the issue, the problem may be with the vacuum’s motor. A malfunctioning motor can result from various factors, including wear and tear or electrical issues. In this case, it’s best to consult a professional technician for diagnosis and repair.

If you’ve gone through the previous troubleshooting steps and your Kenmore canister vacuum still won’t turn on, it’s time to investigate the heart of the machine: the motor. The motor is a critical component, and any malfunction can lead to power issues.

Here’s how to examine the motor:

  1. Safety First: Always begin by ensuring the vacuum is switched off and unplugged. Safety is paramount when dealing with electrical components.
  2. Access the Motor: Depending on your Kenmore model, gaining access to the motor may involve removing a cover or panel. Refer to your vacuum’s user manual for specific instructions on how to access the motor.
  3. Visual Inspection: With the motor exposed, conduct a visual inspection. Look for any signs of damage, such as burnt or frayed wires, loose connections, or unusual marks on the motor itself. If you observe any concerning issues, it’s best to consult a professional technician for repairs, as electrical components can be dangerous to handle without proper knowledge.
  4. Testing the motor: If there are no visible signs of damage, you can perform a basic electrical test. Using a multimeter set to measure resistance (ohms), test the motor’s windings. Consult your user manual for the expected resistance values, as these can vary between Kenmore models.
  5. Check for Overheating: If your vacuum recently shut off due to overheating, it’s possible that the motor’s thermal protection feature was activated. In this case, the motor needs time to cool down. Allow the vacuum to sit for at least 30 minutes, and then try turning it on again. If it powers on after cooling, it suggests an overheating issue. To prevent this, avoid running the vacuum for extended periods without breaks.
  6. Professional Inspection: If you aren’t comfortable with the inner workings of your Kenmore vacuum or if the motor appears to be faulty, it’s advisable to seek the expertise of a professional technician. They can provide a comprehensive diagnosis and carry out any necessary repairs or replacements.

The motor is the core of your Kenmore canister vacuum, and if it’s compromised, it can lead to a complete shutdown. Proper maintenance and care are essential to ensure the motor’s longevity, and any complex motor-related issues are best handled by a professional for safety and effectiveness.


A Kenmore canister vacuum not turning on can be a frustrating experience, but it’s essential to approach the problem methodically. By following these troubleshooting steps, you can often identify and resolve the issue, saving both time and money.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I replace my Kenmore canister vacuum’s filter?

Filters should be replaced every 3 to 6 months, depending on usage. A clogged filter can hinder performance.

2. What can I do to prevent overheating in my Kenmore vacuum?

To prevent overheating, ensure that the vacuum bag is not overfilled, and the filters are regularly cleaned or replaced.

3. Can I use my Kenmore canister vacuum on both carpets and hard floors?

Yes, Kenmore canister vacuums are versatile and can be used on both carpeted and hard surfaces.

4. Why does my Kenmore vacuum smell bad when in use?

A foul odor can indicate a clogged filter or bag. Regular maintenance and replacement of consumables can help eliminate the odor.

5. Are Kenmore vacuum repairs covered by a warranty?

Kenmore vacuum warranties vary by model and purchase, so it’s essential to check your warranty information or contact Kenmore customer support for details.