Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How To: Fix Your Hoover FloorMate

Hoover FloorMate H2800
This post is to address the fact that there's so little knowledge on how to make a FloorMate work. They are very high maintenance machines, and if not properly maintained, will work fine for a few months and quit.

I almost just bought a new one from Amazon, but decided to see if I could figure this machine out.

Introduction


For someone with a big house and hard floors, the FloorMate is a great invention. When mine works, it leaves my tile and hard wood floors positively sparkling. When it doesn't work, it just pushes dirty water around.

From searching the Internet, the knowledge to make a FloorMate work and keep it working is scattered all over the place. It is my intention to put most of this knowledge into one convenient place.

How It Works


The FloorMate works by spraying cleaning solution from the clean tank at the top of the unit to the floor. As you the user make the mopping motions with it, the scrub brushes (which do not spin -at least mine don't) scrub the floor. So it's you, the user, who are doing the scrubbing.

The other half what the FloorMate does is pick up that dirty water and put it in the lower tank. So basically it just puts down clean water and picks up dirty water. This is unlike a normal mop which mostly just moves the dirty water around.

..but after a while, it will stop working. You WILL lose suction.

When It Doesn't Work


Search the internet for "FloorMate losing suction" and you will find lots of frustrated people. The real problem is that most people these days are just not used to having a high maintenance anything. So if something quits working, most people just buy a new one.

I used to just buy a new one myself. In this case, I read the reviews and discovered people were complaining about the new ones losing suction too! That's when it hit me that there was something deeper going on here. Not having one of these isn't an option, and I don't want to buy a new one every few months. So, I decided to learn how this thing works, and to share that knowledge.

All About the Suction


For better or worse, the FloorMate has a very precise design. It was designed by engineers to do a task well, within s (very narrow) set of parameters. And if you stray from those parameters, the machine stops working. 

The Achilles' heel of the design is that it has to pull the dirty water farther than is ideal, using a squeegee which wears out quickly, through an intake which could be clogged, through a tube which could crack, and using several seals which could be gummed up or damaged. 

There's so many points of potential failure that it's pretty much guaranteed that it will lose suction without proper maintenance and care. But once you learn how to maintain and troubleshoot it, there's no reason it won't stand up to heavy use.

Step One: Clean the Machine


Most of the time my FloorMate loses suction, it's because the machine is clogged or dirty. The best way to clean and inspect it is from the bottom up.

1. Start with the nozzle assembly. There are two thumb-latches you have to move and the whole thing comes right off. This gives you access to the squeegee, brushes and intake. Unclog the intake if necessary and then look at the squeegee. It should be firm, and there should be no dirt and debris on it. Next look at the brushes. Clean any hair, dirt and debris out of it. I usually run this whole assembly under hot water until the entire thing is spotless. Put the clean nozzle assembly back on.

Hoover FloorMate H2800 shown with nozzle detached
The nozzle assembly detached from the unit


Hoover FloorMate H2800 nozzle assembly
The mostly-clean nozzle assembly. Clean it early, clean it often

Hoover FloorMate H2800 squeegee
The squeegee should be nice and firm. This one is brand new
2. Next look at the dirty water tank. Take the tank out and clean it under the sink using hot water. Pay close attention to getting any dirt off the rubber seals which line the top and bottom halves of the tank. Any dirt or debris on this big seal will screw you out of your suction. Also take off the filter and use the sprayer attachment on your sink to clean the elements of the filter by exposing them, spraying them, and moving on to the next element. When all the parts of the tank are clean, put it back together, making sure that the two tank halves are well seated together.


Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery tank
The two places where the tank is most likely to leak
Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery tank filter grate
Make sure to clean under the filter
Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery tank filter
Make sure to get all the debris out of the filter
Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery tank: underside of filter grate
Make sure to clean the underside of this little grate too

3. Before you put the tank back into the unit, look closely at where the dirty water tank sits. Behind the tank is a semi-transparent hose and assembly. You can see if there is any debris inside the hose, running up all the way to to the tank. If you seen any debris at all inside the hose, you will need to take it apart and clean it. It may not look like a lot of debris, and you may be tempted to leave it there, but this machine needs every last bit of suction it can get. Finally, check the top seal where it meets the back of the tank. Make sure there is no debris on this seal. Now, put the tank back on. Make sure it sits firmly against the top seal and has no play.

Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery channel and seal
The recovery channel, connecting to the recovery hose on the right
Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery tank lip
Don't forget to clean the little lip where the tank goes together
Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery tank hose
The recovery hose at its connection point
Hoover FloorMate H2800 recovery channel rubber seal
Gunk on the seal, and it's only been a week since I cleaned it all out!

Now put some cleaning solution in and take it for a spin. Well, does it work? It probably does. It seems like I need to go through this routine about every 6 or 7 uses. I have lots of little dogs, so I am really tough on my cleaning equipment. I've settled into a happy routine that involves my floors being clean.

Still doesn't work? You'll want to troubleshoot the problem, starting again at the bottom of the unit. 

Step Two: Squeegee


Remove the nozzle assembly with the two thumb latches. Now flip the assembly upside-down and look at the squeegee. It should stand straight out and be nice and firm all the way around. Does it waver in one or more places? Does any part of it lie flat or is any of it missing? When I replaced mine, most of it was flat and it was ripped in several places. If the squeegee isn't perfect, then you need a new one. Parts for your FloorMate are easy to find on the Internet.

Hoover FloorMate H2800: wasted squeegee
This squeegee is totally shot

If your squeegee is pristine, then power the unit on and check for suction without the nozzle assembly. You should be able to fit your hand over the square hole and feel a nice, solid suction against your hand. 

Hoover FloorMate H2800 nozzle intake
Block the intake to check for suction. Make sure to check the seal


Still no love? You'll want to move to the recovery hose next. 

Step Three: Recovery Channel and Hose


The recovery hoses have a repuation for cracking and losing suction, though the hose on mine has held up well over time. With the dirty water tank taken off, you can see the recovery channel (that long white thing the tank plugs into) with the recovery hose connected to the bottom of it. You'll want to take that hose off and inspect it for cracks. You should be able to make a basic seal on it with your mouth and hand plugging the other end. It should be pretty obvious if the hose is cracked. If the hose is fine, take off the recovery channel and do the same to it. Make sure it has no cracks or leaks in it. Now check the rubber seal. Make sure it sits right on the channel and isn't cracked or damaged.

Still no suction huh? If you did everything right, then your problem is somewhere in the tank. At this point, with the tank taken out, power on the unit and first make sure there's suction to the top of the tank by putting your hand over the hole where the top of the tank meets the unit. You should feel strong suction there. If not, your motor is damaged. 

Step Four: Recovery (Dirty Water) Tank



This tank has 3 different seals, and you need to check all three. First, check where the two halves of the tank meet. Make sure the two halves are seated right, and the seals (one on each half) look right. Double check again for debris and make sure the seals themselves are seated right. Next, look how the filter is seated on the tank. The filter cover should be seated right, and the filter should be clean. If the filter is too dirty, or damaged, it'll hurt the suction and basically act like a clog. Finally, check where the tank meets the seal on the recover channel. Make sure there's no debris and also make sure the tank itself isn't cracked or damaged. You should be able to put your mouth over the filter hole with your hand blocking the side port. Even with a working tank there will be a little air loss, but it shouldn't be excessive.

STILL no suction? Assuming you didn't miss anything up to this point, it's probably not good news, but it's still worth continuing.

Step Five: Motor Assembly


With the tank off, make sure the top seal that meets the tank is in good shape. With the unit turned on, you should feel a strong suction by putting your hand over that seal. Take the seal off and inspect it to make sure it isn't dirty, cracked or damaged. 

Hoover FloorMate H2800 top air seal
The top seal near the motor should have never came in contact with water


Now is time for a reality check: If you're still not getting good suction, you probably need to replace or rebuild the motor. If you are getting good suction with your hand on the seal, your problem is not the motor. You missed something - try again from the squeegee up. The goal is to check every point of possible failure from the floor right up to the motor.

Conclusions


I hope this post has helped you better understand your FloorMate. With a little bit of care and maintenance, this is a great machine that saves a ton of time mopping. Since my wife is disabled, I'm the one that does the mopping at our house. When I first assumed the duty, I found the FloorMate buried in a closet with a comment of "that doesn't work anymore." Now that I have done the research and understand the thing, I use it twice a week and the floors have never been cleaner.

28 comments:

  1. Is the squeegee on the assembly supposed to be flush with the ground? on any setting it seems to be about 1/2 inch off the ground. As such, it doesn't suck up water like it should.

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    1. Yes, it's supposed to be flush with the floor. I wonder if yours just wore out to the point where parts of it fell off, which happened to me.

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  2. Thanks for the helpful info. Mine does have suction under the motor but no suction down by the nozzle. The hose is not clogged. What am I doing wrong?

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    1. A common problem with these Floormates is that the plastic hose cracks. I would look there first and then maybe look for a bad seal after that. Make double sure everything is seated right and that there's no dirt in any of the rubber seals.

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  3. You, sir, are a Floormate saver! With two big dogs and all tile floors, I gotta have my Floormate working. Thanks so much for all the info. I had checked the hose, channel, and squeegee . . . guess the dirty water tank and filter needed a good cleaning. Working like a charm now. Thanks again!

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    1. Happy to help, and thanks for the kind words. My floor mate in the article is still going, and still gets used twice a week. It's definitely a lifesaver with dogs.

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  4. Thanks so much for your information! and the pictures are a BIG help! Looking at the pictures of the unit, I realize that the unit that I got at Salvation Army for $9.99 was missing the filter lid! I'm going to order that online, but you mentioned that the recovery hose sometimes gets cracked and I'd like to check that out before placing my order. My problem is, how do I get it out? (I already unscrewed the recovery channel) Do I just pull very hard to get it out, or am I to unscrew something? (I've tried both but didn't want to break anything) I really appreciate all your help!! THANKS AGAIN!

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    1. It's not obvious from looking at it, but the hose is actually threaded in. You just have to turn it counter-clockwise to unscrew it and you're good to go.

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  5. Thanks for the genius post. My floormate stopped sucking mid-mop, and a little googling turned up your post. I removed and cleaned all the dog hair out of the nozzle assembly, and suction returned, although I am still only getting a few drops in the dirty water tank. Could be because the floor mostly dried while I was cleaning the floormate. Not going to mop again to test it - that's crazy talk.

    My recovery hose set up does not look like your pic - maybe I have a different model? I haven't gone so far as to try to check the hoses.

    I was disturbed by the fact that my brushes don't spin, either. I never noticed until I tested the suction with the cover removed. I found 2 more thumb screws that release the brush assembly, and after I cleaned it, then reseated it, the brushes still didn't spin. But I perservered, and after 2 more reseatings, my brushes now spin!



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  6. Ok, so I went back a re-mopped. Everything is working great! Brushes spinning! Yay!

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  7. can you post something about, releasing water, because when i squeeze the trigger it put out very little water

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    1. I will do that. In the mean time my best guess is maybe hard water deposits are clogging the line. It probably wouldn't hurt to run plain water with a little CLR in it and see if that helps it.

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  8. Just took my floorMate apart and found the hose cracked at the top where it meets the plastic tube that goes to the recovery take. Is there an easy way to attach it at the bottom end, once I find a replacement hose?

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  9. Thanks so much...you're a floormate and $$ saver! I was about to place an order for a new brush and filter assembly...and then Googling I found your post. I went step by step with my 6 month old Floormate....and cleaned basically the brush and filter assemblies with HOT water, Clorox and a stiff metal toothbrush....now my floormate works like the day I bought it!!! Don't know if it just needed a GOOD cleaning or if I didn't have the bottom recovery tank sealed correctly regardless you got me up and running again...just 3 days before Christmas....however....gentleman....YOU'RE THE MAN!!! Thanks again for taking the time to post all of this and with such detailed pics....for the rest of us idiots about to spend $$'s. Happy holidays to your family.

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    1. Thanks, Norma! It was my own frustration that led me to write this post to begin with. Be sure and check the squeegee since it's the part that seems to wear the fastest.

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  10. Hello! Thanks for taking the time to write this "how to fix it." Last time I tried to use my Floormate it wouldn't suck up the dirty water so I resorted to mopping. I have always rinsed after using it but never really thought about cleaning it. I just took a good look and it really needs cleaning. I can see dirt in the recovery channel but I can't figure out how to take it apart. It looks just like the picture in #3 above. I took out the two screws but then nothing seems to come apart. Can you help?

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    1. I believe it just unscrews from the hose. You pop it out of the plastic snaps and just turn it counter clockwise.

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  11. Is the Floormate supposed to pickup the cleaning solution as it is scrubbing?

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  12. I bow to you, of floormate whisperer. I own 2 of these things because I (heart) slate tile, and over time it was leaving more and more yucky water on the floor. I cleaned all the various seals and it's like having a new machine. Thank you so much for this post!

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  13. Hope your still out there. The last time I used my floormat, about a month ago I had no issues, now starting it up and putting on the clean mode, after about 20 seconds you hear a change in the suction sound ( like its losing its prime) and it stops sucking the water up. If you turn it off wait a second and turn it on again it works for about 10 seconds. The longer you leave it off the longer it will suck but never more than 20 seconds or so. Any suggestions?

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    1. There's a one way ball inside the dirty water tank that will close the tube if you tilt it too far. This stops dirty water from escaping the tank if you tilt the Floormate too much. It sucks the ball up (you will hear the pitch of the motor increase) and it stays that way until you shut it off. So maybe your tank is close to full and you tilted the unit too much. Or maybe your dirty water tank is defective. Either way, the symptoms you are describing sound like that one way ball thingy in the bottom tank. That's where I would look first.

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  14. I have a Floormate 3040 That I bought as a factory refurb. It's never dispensed the cleaning fluid properly. I've read where people have corrected this issue by adding a drop of glue from a hot glue gun to the tip of the plunger that goes into the cleaning solution tank. I tried this and see no real difference. Does the machine depend on gravity to move the cleaning solution out of the tank or should there be suction present?
    Thanks!

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  15. WOW! Now on my 3rd Floormate, I decided to search on a whim for a solution to its common suction degredation when I found your compliation! Thank you so much for reminding us of the basics... Keep it clean and keep it simple. My unit is working like new again. Most Grateful!!!

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  16. Someone (we won't name who....) knocked my floormate over and the distributor assembly broke. I've purchased a new one and the snap pin but I'm not sure how to put it back together. I can't find a picture of what it looked like before it broke. Any help would be appreciated!!

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  17. Floormate quit sucking, again, yesterday. I forgot all the stuff I read here a few months ago, so I Googled again, found you again, and fixed it, again. Now this post is bookmarked. Thanks, again.

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