How to troubleshoot steam cleaners

Written by kimberley elliot
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How to troubleshoot steam cleaners
Harnessing the power of steam to clean your house. (steam image by Dave from

Steam cleaners heat water then release the resulting steam from a nozzle that funnels the force. The pressure of the steam forces dirt from floors, countertops, mirrors and other hard surfaces. They are environmentally friendly because they use no harsh chemicals, yet still effectively kill mould and bacteria. Although they are relatively simple machines, steam cleaners can suddenly stop working, and may need some easy repairs.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Steam cleaner
  • Paper clip
  • Paper towels
  • Degreaser

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  1. 1

    Check that the steam cleaner is firmly plugged into the outlet if the unit suddenly loses power. Try plugging the steam cleaner into an alternate wall outlet, in case the first outlet is no longer working. Steam cleaners can be energy hogs, so it is not recommended that they share an outlet with another heavy duty appliance as that may cause a blown fuse. If you are using an extension cord with your steam cleaner, double check that it is rated at least 15 ampere and the cord is 14 gauge. Lower rated extension cords can overheat if used with steam cleaners.

  2. 2

    Check that there is water in the tank if steam is not coming out. Unplug the steam cleaner before refilling the tank. Once the tank is full of water, prime the pump by pushing up and down on the handle several times to make steam come out.

  3. 3

    Change the micropad on the steam cleaner if excessive water is coming out on the surfaces you are cleaning. If the micropad is oversaturated with water, it won't be effective. Unplug the unit, then replace the micropad with a dry one.

  4. 4

    Use a degreaser, such as an all-purpose cleaner on the floor if it is spotty or streaky after cleaning. This is a sign that the build up on the floor may be too thick for the steam cleaner to effectively remove. Wipe up the grease with paper towels, then clean again with the steam cleaner to remove the remaining dirt and grime. If there is a white spot on the floor, the unit has been left too long in one area.

  5. 5

    Check the length of the handle if you find the steam cleaner too hard to push. The longer the handle, the better leverage you have in pushing the unit.

  6. 6

    Check that your surfaces can tolerate high heat. If the steam cleaner removed the sheen from your floors, they may be unsealed wood or unglazed ceramic tile. Without a protective coating, these surfaces are too porous for a steam cleaner.

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