Pros: Holds up like a tank
Cons: Weighs as much as a tank
I am very tough on vacuums. When I vacuum, God help whatever is in my path. I don't have the time or the patience to pre-clean my targeted vacuum area. If it's small enough to suck up and it's laying on the floor on vacuum day, it's going to end up in my dirt bag. Money, socks, screws, Legos, twist ties, string, etc. are all history. So are many of my vacuums.
I still have my Kirby Heritage II even though I bought a Hoover WindTunnnel and SteamVac last year. Why? I just can't let it go. It's a good second vacuum, but for everyday use? Well, unless you're Arnold Swarzenegger with a relative who owns a vacuum repair shop, forget it. This then is an overview of my Kirby, and how it compares to the Hoovers.
-- The Home Demonstration --
The most fun and impressive thing about the Kirby is the home demonstration. If you want a new Kirby, you must buy one through a salesperson, because they are not available in stores. After listening to numerous fellow homemakers extol the virtues of this miracle machine, I finally succumbed to the home demonstration. It was impressive.
If I can recall correctly, I was challenged to vacuum an area with my current vacuum, which at that time, was an old Eureka on its last legs. The Kirby man then vacuumed over the same area with his miracle machine. He sure got a lot more dirt!
He then converted the Kirby to a handheld device and proceeded to vacuum one of my mattresses. This is what sold me. The product of this cleaning was a filter full of dead skin and other organic debris. My soul screamed out "Oh my God, I need a Kirby!". And so, I bought one, despite the excessive price tag of approximately $550 + $59 for the Turbo Brush.
-- Features --
? Floor Polisher
This is a nice attachment for wooden floors. It's basically a stiff brush that can be used to buff the floors clean. I used this one time on my hardwood floors. It did work well, but it did not work as effectively as an old floor polisher that I inherited from my mother.
? Rug Shampooer
This is a complex series of attachments that transform your Kirby vacuum into a rug shampooer, replete with special Kirby rug shampoo. The conversion process requires a good bit of strength and mechanical finesse. Although the beater brush does an excellent job of removing "fuffkies" (what my family calls that lint like debris that comes out of the carpet) compared to my Hoover SteamVac, it does not clean the carpets nearly as efficiently or thoroughly.
? Turbo Brush
This is my favorite attachment and another reason why I initially bought the Kirby. It is a handheld brush that spins just like its larger size cousin. It also makes a really cool turbo like whirring noise when it starts up. It sounds powerful! It does a great job on stairs. If only you didn't have to drag the rest of the Kirby around, it would be the most excellent stair cleaning system I have ever seen. The Turbo Brush also has a suction adjustment. This attachment does not come with the Kirby and must be bought separately.
? Convertible to "Canister"
By removing the large front head of the Kirby and attaching a hose, you can convert the Kirby into a canister model. Well, sort of. You still have to drag along the large upright bag assembly. Alternatively, you can remove the handle by prying out a steel rod (call Arnold) and looping the dirt bag around and attaching it to a little hook on the base. This is inconvenient, messy, and the base of the Kirby itself is still quite heavy.
? Extra Long Cord
In the old days when I got this Kirby it was rare to see an extra long cord and cord wrapping assembly like this. Kirby was ahead of its time. By simply spinning the upper cord holding hook around, the entire cord becomes available with no tangling. Most vacuums these days utilize this system.
I had some trouble with the cord. I had to replace it once because it started to unattach itself from the vacuum. No doubt this was due to negligence and abuse on my part, but like I said, I am rough on vacuums.
? No Paper Bags
My Kirby has permanent dirt bag as opposed to one that needs paper bags in it. I had a choice when I originally purchased the Kirby and I chose this option. I did replace this bag once because it really was getting disgusting. There is a scraper thing that is in the bag and can be accessed from an outside pocket. This allows the user to try to scrape the dirt off the sides of the bag. To empty the bag it must be removed from the canister of the Kirby. This is where you may need Arnold's help.
Looking back, I probably would not take this option. It seems easier and cleaner to use paper filter bags.
? On Off Switch
The switch is a pedal located on the back of the housing. It's very convenient and easy to click it on and off with your foot. I had to get this repaired once when it became very loose and the vacuum started to turn on and off by itself.
-- What Breaks Down --
? The Fan
Everything that gets sucked up into the Kirby goes directly past the fan blades. Although the blades are metal, they still break.. Trust me, I have gone through at least 5 sets of blades.
? The Belt
Eau de burning vacuum belt, we all know that familiar scent. Any vacuum will eat through belts. My Kirby seemed to be hungrier than I would normally expect a vacuum to be. Although the belt is easily accessible, when a new belt is in the Kirby, changing the attachments requires even more brute force than normal. Arnold?
? The Wands
Amazingly, the heavy metal Kirby comes with plastic wands. The salesman promised they were some kind of super duper nonbreakable polymer. NOT. When I finally got tired of replacing wand after wand (two pieces are required if you are anywhere near normal height) a vacuum repair guy sold me a set of compatible metal wands from another manufacture. These lasted. The other problem with the wands was getting them to separate. Another job for Arnold.
? The Hose
The Kirby came with a hose of reasonable length. After a few years, I had to replace the hose because it began to develop cracks. The vacuum guy (who I was on a first name basis with by this time) sold me an industrial strength "indestructible" hose. This hose lasted a long time because when the ends started to get wrecked up, you could just cut it and start fresh.
? The Floor Attachment
The new age polymer plaster attachments just did not hold up for me. I replaced the floor attachment twice before the vacuum guy sold me a compatible metal one from another manufacturer.
-- Challenges --
? Changing Attachments
Ugh. This is the big problem with this vacuum. It is so inconvenient and draining to try to change attachments that you just don't want to bother. The amount of strength it takes to spin the latch to release the belt in order the get the main head cleaning piece off the vacuum is ridiculous, especially if you have recently replaced the belt.
? Cleaning Stairs
Although the Turbo Brush is the best stair cleaning attachment I have ever seen, dragging the rest of the Kirby in tow is downright hazardous. Try pulling a bit too hard and having the metal housing, bag, and handle come tumbling down the stairs and nearly take you out.
? Primitive Height Adjustment Mechanism
When I'm at home I'm barefoot. I don't wear shoes and I will only wear slippers if it's cold out. So, the height adjustment on the base of the Kirby presents a problem for me. It's an old fashioned ratcheting method that requires some (often quite hard) pressure from your toe to get it to move.
? Your Back
Call you Chiropractor right now. The Kirby is heavy. Even the normal push-pull vacuuming action requires more strength than other vacuums. Lifting it? Call Arnold.
-- So, how does the Kirby compare to my Hoovers? --
? Price per pound?: ~ Hoover~
Kirby is initially cheaper because of its heavy weight. However, the chiropractor bills will eventually swing the pendulum in favor of the Hoovers.
? Price Overall: ~ Hoover~
I have both the Hoover Windtunnel and the Hoover SteamVac for less than the cost of the Kirby. And I can replace them both once and still be under the price of the Kirby plus repairs.
? Bragging Rights: ~Kirby~
It simply is a more expensive and elite vacuum. It really does exude quality.
? Retains Value over Time: ~Kirby~
Hey, Kirbys win here no contest. Some folks are downright cultish about Kirbys. Even the most "classic" Kirby can still fetch a decent price on the market.
? Stair Cleaning: ~ Kirby~, with a warning
The Kirby Turbo Brush takes it, however, it will also take out the vacuumer if it comes tumbling down the stairs. Hint, vacuum from bottom to top.
? Attachments: ~ Hoover~
Although Kirby comes with some cool attachments, the overall level of difficulty in utilizing them cancels out the advantage in this area. Hoover attachments are on board and easy to use.
? Repairs: ~Hoover~
The Hoover needs fewer repairs and costs less when it comes time for a repair. Hoover parts are more readily available and cheaper.
? Overall Cleaning Ability: ~Hoover~
I am more satisfied with the results of my Hoovers than I was with my Kirby. Sure, the Kirby is impressive, but my Windtunnel outsucks it anyday. The WindTunnel also does a better job along the baseboards. In terms of cleaning the rugs, the Kirby shampooer attachment cannot hold a candle to the SteamVac.
? Overall Ease of Vacuuming: ~Hoover~
From the attachments to the weight of the machine, Hoover is just a lot easier to handle. Unless you're in training for the WWF, you'll appreciate the effortlessness of the pair of Hoovers.
Well, although it takes 2 Hoovers to beat the 1 Kirby + attachments, they do it hands down and at a lower total price. In fact, you can replace each Hoover once for the same total expenditure as just the one original Kirby plus repairs.
It's not that the Kirby is a bad vacuum. It's very good, but you can save your money and your back by going with a pair of Hoovers. Kirby is just not worth the cost... unless you live with Arnold Swarzenegger and he does all the vacuuming. :)
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