How To Fix Your Vax Carpet Cleaner Not Picking Up Water

As anyone who’s ever rented an apartment knows, carpet cleaners are a life (and deposit) saver. But when they stop working, things can get frustrating. Sure, you could go rent one, but you bought it to do this job! If your Vax carpet cleaner is not picking up water, there are fixes.

To fix your Vax carpet cleaner not picking up water begin by checking the small things: seals, water tank, and the settings. If these don’t solve the issue, move onto the more advanced fixes listed below.

Luckily for you, we’re here to help you troubleshoot and get that sucker up and, well, sucking. Now without further ado, let’s break things down.

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Causes and Troubleshooting

In general, there aren’t too many things that could be causing your Vax carpet cleaner to not pick up water. Here are the largest and most common problems that create this issue:

Damaged seals

Your water tank has special seals designed to keep the water in and help form a vacuum with which to suck up water. If these seals break or fail due to age, this could cause issues with pulling water out of your carpet.


Just like in a vacuum, carpet cleaners need an unobstructed path between the ground and what I like to call the “gnarliness holder.” If there are large pieces of refuse or grime, or there’s a buildup of mould, this could be the cause. 

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Suction port

This is tied to the two above, but if you’ve checked those two, move to the suction port. If it’s busted, the suction port won’t be able to actively pull water out of your carpet.


One of the easier fixes, the Vax carpet cleaner could simply be on the wrong settings. Check your settings to make sure it’s actually set to pull water.

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If you assembled your cleaner yourself (perhaps for a previous repair), this is worth checking. Nobody wants to admit they were wrong, but it’s important to check that everything is in its proper place. Worst case, disassemble it away from prying eyes that might say, “I told you so.”

Water tank

This is the easiest and most obvious cause, so we saved it for last. Did you double-check that your water tank isn’t full? If it is full, simply dump and clean it and try again!

Fixing Vax Carpet Cleaners Not Picking Up Water, Part 1

Easiest solutions first. Is your tank still full of water? Hopefully, the answer is no – but if it is, dump it! If your tank is too full it can’t pull up more water, because there’s nowhere for it to go. Simple as that.

Fixing the Problem, Part 2

Before all else, read your owner’s manual. While it may seem painfully obvious, you’d be surprised how many people assume that they don’t need the owner’s manual. Sure, you’re a smart guy with mechanical skills, but I’ll tell you a secret. 

Mechanics and repairmen read manuals, so you should too, assuming you still have it. To check for proper assembly and settings, your owner’s manual is vital. Sure, you can find them online, but they gave you the manual for a reason.

(Please tell me you have the manual. Please..?)

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Fixing the Problem, Part 3

Check your settings. This is super simple – just check your manual to see what settings pull water, and ensure it’s on that setting. If this doesn’t work, something else is the problem. If it works, congratulations! You can never speak of this again, you must save face. Only you and the cleaner will know about this mistake.

Fixing the Problem, Part 4

Check for obstructions and remove them, easy as that. This may get gross, especially if you haven’t made a habit of cleaning the thing, so gloves are recommended for the squeamish. To clean and check for obstructions:

  1. Remove your machine’s water tanks.
  2. Lie the carpet cleaner on its back with the tank out.
  3. Remove obvious chunks of dirt or refuse in the brush on the bottom of the machine.
  4. Remove any hair – this gets bad if you have pets. Cutting it out will likely be easier, but be careful not to cut your brush.
  5. Test the machine. If it doesn’t work still, repeat steps 1 and 2. 
  6. Following your machine’s owner’s manual, remove the brush bar and replace it.
  7. Test again, and move on down the list if it still doesn’t work.

Fixing the Problem, Part 5

Check for suction. You’ve likely already done this, but it’s worth mentioning for those who haven’t. 

  1. Remove your water tank and turn off the power.
  2. Turn it back on with the tank still off
  3. Place your hand on the suction port and see if you feel it, well, sucking.

If you don’t, contact Vax for more help. If it’s new, you’ll likely be able to return it and/or get it replaced.

Fixing the Problem, Part 6

Check the seals for damage. If the seals for your cleaner are busted, it won’t work well, if at all. To check your seals, do the following:

  1. Remove the water tank.
  2. Inspect the seals surrounding it for damage or wear. If they look old and tired, they’re likely the problem. 
  3. Buy a replacement(s) from the official Vax site. They’re cheap, so don’t worry. 
  4. Once they’re replaced, run and test it. Hopefully this solved the problem, if not, you know the drill – keep reading.

Extra Steps If Your Vax Carpet Cleaner Is Still Not Picking Up Water

If your Vax carpet cleaner is still not picking up water, here are two extra alternatives.

  1. Call, chat with, or email Vax customer support. They’re there for a reason and will happily help you troubleshoot. 
  2. Hire a professional. While they can be relatively fair in their pricing, specialists cost money. This should be your last solution if you want to save money. Remember to ask any questions you think of – particularly when getting quoted. 
    1. Be sure to hire someone with a good reputation, rather than the cheapest repairman you can find. If they cause more damage, it’s likely that you’re simply out of luck.

Final Thoughts

If your Vax carpet cleaner isn’t picking up water, there are a lot of things that could be the cause. By following this article step by step, you’re likely to find the issue and solve it yourself without needing a pro. 

And even if some of these issues seem too obvious to be the problem, it’s okay to put aside your pride and double-check. Better to hurt your pride than your wallet after all, right? To find the best carpet cleaner for you, check out our carpet cleaner review!