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TroubleShooting Odor Issues Q&A

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Questions & Answers

Burn Smell at Unit

I have a Beam model 190 that will start both at the hose or the base unit and will shut off 5 seconds later with a burn smell in the air. The reset button can be used to get the vacuum to work again but after 5 seconds it shuts off again. Any answers? Thank you, Chris Gunn


The electrical or burning smell coming from the unit is caused by a faulty motor. As it heats up it may also pop your minibreaker. Please take a look at our Beam 190 Motor Replacement and Motor Replacement Instructions to help get your system back to peak performance!

Dark Brown Liquid Coming From Inlet Valve

came home and system was running w/o any hoses attached, unplugged unit and noticed a dark brown liquid coming out of one of the vacuum outlets??? any help? thanks patrick, tulsa ok


The liquid could be condensation from within the pipes that has mixed with dirt from the pipes. If could also be caused by someone accidentally vacuuming up liquid (wouldn’t be the first time). Sometimes vacuumed liquids will make it all the way to the main tank, so be sure to take a look at your filter and change it if it is wet or damp.

Dust in Garage When Using Central Vacuum Unit

I have to leave my garage door open when using the system to clear out the dust. I cleaned the unit and replaced the bag, My original md vac was vented outside. Iwas told that this unit did not need to be vented. Model #178229 There is a open pipe in the wall that leads to the outside. The pipe comes out of the wall and into the unit, my old unit had a Tee which vented to the unit and also to the outside.


First, your MD Central Vacuum Unit should have a supporting cloth bag AND a paper filter bag. If there is no filter bag in place, then the exhaust will be dusty. Please view our Filtration Overview for detailed information on filtration. The next step is to check that the piping is connected properly. There should be an intake pipe running from the home and connecting to the top of the unit. The bottom connection(s) should go directly outdoors. If these steps do not resolve your issue, please call one of our Customer Service Professionals at 1(800) 997-2278 Monday-Thursday 7am-5pm PST for further assistance.

How to Completely Wash the Hose

How do you wash the hose. I was told once before but I don't remember what product to use. I don't need to use the system for a couple of weeks so the hose will be able to dry. One of my hoses smells really bad. I have had the system about 4 years.

Please note: You can only safely wash a hose that has no wiring, meaning it does not have an on/off switch or a place on the wall end of the hose to plug into a high-voltage receptacle or electrical cord. If you are certain that your hose does not have wiring of any type within it, you can let it soak in a large tub of hot water and Mr. Clean cleaning solution. Rinse it well (both inside and out) and allow it to air dry completely.

How to Extract Water from Pipes

Cleaning lady spilled water on stair rug - then in nervous state tried to vacuum it up. Water is now in one line will a shop vac work at sucking it out? Should I call for service? Thanks Patricia


Did the water make it all the way to the motor inside the vacuum tank? If so, please call a Local Service Center for assistance. If not, you can suction up whole paper towels (as many as needed) to soak up the water. We recommend that you leave the hose and vacuum on for a couple of hours to let it dry out.

Is it Safe to Suction Water with a Central Vacuum?

Last week we vacuumed water that was on an area rug. Water started running out of one of the inlets. A week later we tried using the vacuum again and it works, however water ran out of the inlet again and I noticed a very musty smell coming from the inlet. Should we call for service, or is there a simple fix that we can do? Thank you. Melanie Bradenton, FL


If water was vacuumed, suction whole paper towels through your central vacuum, until they come out dry. Then spray Lysol on a few more paper towels and run them through your system to try and disinfect the piping. You can ONLY suction water with a central vacuum system if you have a Preinlet Separator.

Is it Safe to Vacuum Baking Soda?

Can you vacuum up baking soda with a central vac safely? I saw a recipe for cleaning bed mattresses using baking soda and lavender essential oil, you let it set for one hour then vacuum up...I need to know if it is safe to use my central vac for this.. Thanks, J Feldt Red Bud.


You can safely vacuum baking soda, as long as it is not wet. If the suction seems to diminish in strength, clean or change out your filter.

Is There a Fire/Safety Issue with an Aging Motor?

I just purchased a house, 26 years old. Central vac still works! The previous owners said they never used it. I started using it, and like others have said, the garage smells like something is burning. I understand that this means the motor is bad and I can use it until it dies.. but is there any sort of safety/fire hazard I could potentially cause from this?

There is no fire/safety hazard from a motor that is going out. It will eventually just stop working. When it does go out, you can replace the motor or replace the central vacuum unit. If you choose to purchase a new central vacuum unit, we recommend our SilentMaster or FloMaster lines, which are both compatible with your system.

Motor Smells After Vacuuming Hair Pins

We have a Filtex central vacuum which is 23 years old. Today I accidently sucked up 2 hair pins and shortly after the unit in the garage began to smell like something is burning. This has never happened before. Do you think it could be the hair pins or the motor going bad? Thanks.


The electrical smell coming from the unit is a sign of a fault motor. The smell was not caused by what you have vacuumed up. It is safe to continue to use your central vacuum. Eventually the motor will just stop and will need to be replaced with one of our Filtex Motor Replacement Motors.

Odor from Exhaust

We moved into a home with a Silent Master unit and had no idea about the filter system. The system is located in a third garage, which we converted into an office. When the vacuum is on, the office smells foul, like dirty feet :( We have emptied the bag and are ordering replacements today. Is there a deodorizing product we can put in the filter or is there some other fix to prevent that awful smell? Thanks. -D.Mejia


First, use paper towels that have been lightly sprayed with Lysol to suction through the hose at every inlet valve port. You can also use our specialized Free Flow Pipe and Hose Maintenance Sheets to deodorize the exhaust.

Pet Smell In Older Central Vacuum System

We bought a home that has central vac. They had dogs and the home smells. After replacing the bad carpets the central vac still smells. I opened the can under the vac and inside is all kinds of hair and it smells. When I turn it on it really smells and sounds horrible. Dust/dog dust flies around when I turn it on. The smell must go. Replace the vac or remove the whole thing? there also seems to be gravel in the bag and in some of the vac holes throughout the house.


It sounds like the system needs a complete cleaning. A major concern would be the gravel at the inlets. This could indicate an issue with the vacuum unit not running with enough power to clear the pipeline. First check the filters on the unit and make sure they are all clear. Most units have at least two filters, the main filter and a secondary screen just before the motor to protect the fan blades. The lines can be cleaned out with our Free Flow Pipe and Hose Maintenance Sheets, which are designed to be sucked down the pipeline at each inlet and pull all the build-up and debris out. They also are treated with a fragrance to reduce the smell. Replacing the power unit is an option to solve the dust problem, contact your local dealer to talk about some options. A dealer can also inspect the entire system for any issues that may be present.

Removing Center Weighted Cloth Filter

We have a Beam Central Vacuum Model750A. Does the bag come out? Bag smells like a mouse died in it. Cleaned sprayed with Lysol leaving canister off. Think husband may have sweep something up that was wet. We don't use the central vac that much. This vac bag is stationary. not able to take cloth bag out with weight in the bottom out. Thanks Julie


Use a strong tool, such as a screwdriver, to pry the stiff outer rim of the cloth bag upwards and bend it toward the center. Once bent in far enough, it will fall out. Replace the old cloth bag (inverted cloth filter) with a new one by bending the rim and allowing it to snap into place. Please compare the diameter of your canister with the replacement inverted cloth filters on our website.

Smell Coming From Canister into Wall Inlet

We can smell the odor from the downstairs vacuum canister at the outlet upstairs when it's closed. It's not a particularly worrisome smell (it just smells like a vacuum cleaner bag full of dust) but it defeats the purpose of having a central vac and avoiding such odors when the outlet cover doesn't seal tightly enough to block the smell. The outlet & cover is less than a year old and doesn't appear to be damaged; the rubber disc on the inside of the hinged door seems OK, as does the spring tension. Is there a way to make it seal tighter, or an extra gasket that can be added? Thanks, Tom near Bell FL


First, ensure that the door of the inlet valve is flush with the wall plate. You may need to slightly loosen the mounting screws to get the inlet valve to seat properly on the wall. Try tapping it with your fist to ensure it is in the wall fully. Take a look at the inlet from a side angle to see that it is flat with the base of the faceplate. If this does not solve your problem, we would recommend either a new inlet valve or one with a different style that may close more effectively.

Super Stinky Inlets Solution

BEAM PU3718 bad odor I have a Beam PU3718 (or it could be PU371B), I'm getting a really bad odor coming from the outlets. I've replace the tubes that lead into the canister last year and cleaned the ones in the house with a snake. I empty the bag often. The smell goes away once I run the vacuum but returns right after. It smells like a combination of wet dirty socks and yuck(really bad). I've tried the fabric softener sheets but that was a temporary fix. The smell would go away for days or weeks on its own and return the same way. Is there a filter of a replacement bag I can use? It was installed in 1999. Thanks in advance. Dominic, Mississauga, Canada


Typically, we recommend that you spray Lysol on a paper towel or use a FreeFlow Pipe and Maintenance Cloth and suck it through the hose and pipes all the way to the unit, and repeat this process several times. You could also try opening your inlet valve, starting the flow of suction at the on/off switch on the vacuum tank, and simply spraying Lysol directly into the valve for a few seconds. You can then leave the valve open for 5 minutes with the vacuum/motor on to let it dry. Repeat this process at all inlet valves in your home.