James Dyson changed the way we vacuum with his revolutionary machine designs.

How to Troubleshoot a Dyson DC17 Absolute Animal Upright Vacuum

by Laurie Brenner

Dyson vacuums have a built-in thermal switch that shuts the unit down when it begins to overheat. If the filter is dirty, something jams the beater bar, or a clog gets into the machine, the machine automatically shuts off. This is to protect it from further damage, but it also signals the need to troubleshoot the problem. If the filter is dirty, remove and clean it. The Dyson DC Absolute Animal upright vacuum -- designed specifically for pet owners -- removes pet hair and fine dander that quickly buildup in a home with indoor pets.

Filter Removal and Cleaning

Turn the power off on the machine and unplug it from the wall. Do not attempt to remove the filter while the machine is plugged in.

Remove the clear dust bin from the machine. Grab the handle, depress the button and pull the unit away from the machine. Set it aside.

Lift up on the cover that covers the filter at the bottom of the machine beneath where the canister sits. After lifting the cover, lift the filter from the unit. Wash it under cool or warm running water. Do not use detergent because it is hard to get out and may clog the filter with residue. As you rinse it out, fine dust and dander continues to puff out until it becomes thoroughly soaked. Squeeze and rinse until the filter becomes clean. This may take a few minutes under running water. When clean, thoroughly wring it out and set it on a shelf to dry.

Replace the filter when dry in reverse of removal. Restore the clear dust bin to the machine. Plug it in and test its suction. If the machine still has a problem, continue to the next section.

Depleted Suction

Turn the machine on. Detach the wand from the machine. Place your hand over the open end to test the suction. If it feels as if the suction is weaker than normal, turn the machine off and unplug it from the wall.

Lift up on the wand cap to extract the metal tube from the hose. The wand sits inside the hose when not in use. Continue lifting the wand until the hose and wand pull away from the machine.

Depress the red button found on the handle of the wand to separate the wand from the hose.

Examine inside the hose to look for obstructions or clogs that require removal. Carefully look at the hose for cuts or tears. If the hose is damaged or has a hole in it from picking up a sharp object such as a toothpick, safety pin, small nail or screw, replace the hose, as this causes the machine to not suction properly. Because of the way the Dyson was designed, the hose and wand are an integral part of the machine, even when not in specific use, as it connects the hose to the canister to form suction.

Beater Bar Stops

Turn the machine off and unplug from the wall.

Turn the machine over. Lay it flat on the floor face down with the beater bar facing up.

Insert a nickel in the slot of the screw on the top left, then the top middle and finally the top right to unscrew the three screws that hold the bottom plate over the beater bar. Turn the nickle counterclockwise three-quarters of a turn for each screw. Pull the bottom plate away from the machine and set aside.

Cut long threads, hairs or debris from the beater bar with a pair of scissors working across the bar. Pull the yarns, threads or hair from the beater bar.

Examine the rollers at either side of the beater bar for threads wrapped around them. Cut and remove them to free up the bar. Once all the threads are removed, turn the beater bar by your hand to ensure it has free movement. Verify the belt aligns in the channel and track designed for it. If out of alignment, realign.

Replace the bottom plate by aligning the tabs into the slots on the front. Close the plate and tighten the screws three-quarters of a turn clockwise. Plug it on and test its operation.

Items you will need

  • Nickel coin
  • Scissors


  • Do not wash the filter in the washing machine, put it in the dryer or near heat. Allow it to air dry for 24 hours before you reinstall it in the machine. Do not install it wet.
  • Remove the dust from the clear bin after every vacuuming. Running the machine with the bin full may cause it to overheat.
  • Regularly clean the clear bin to keep the machine functional. Because of the fine dust and dander on the inside of the bin, it may take a while to thoroughly clean it. Because of how well the machines work, a Dyson can develop a coat of fine dust that packs the cyclone chamber, which prevents it from functioning properly or causes it to overheat. Open the top of the unit to remove the cyclone element from the machine. Rinse under cool or warm water. Because the dust is so fine, use a microfiber cloth to help remove it, if needed. It takes a while for the dust to get wet -- as it resists water -- so continue rinsing it until it is clean. Repeat for the inside of the canister. Remove caked on dust and debris. Let air dry and replace.
  • Contact Dyson directly if you cannot ascertain the problem. Call them Monday through Saturday at 1-866-693-9766. Visit their support website for more information.


  • Do not run the machine with a wet filter or canister. This could permanently damage it.
  • Keep pets and children away from the machine as you work on it.

About the Author

As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.

Photo Credits

  • Bruno Vincent/Getty Images News/Getty Images