Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on February 26th, 2020

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Carpet Extractor Repair: 6 Common Problems with Troubleshooting Solutions

Broken equipment is not only frustrating but delays worker productivity. Understanding when your equipment is in need of simple maintenance like tightening a loose hose or cleaning a filter can save you the extra time of bringing it in for professional repair. 

Alternatively, it can also help you identify when it is a larger issue that should be professionally repaired.

In this article and video, we will go over some of the causes of the most common problems that can affect your carpet extractor and how to solve them.

Click on the issue you are experiencing below to see the most common causes of that problem and how to resolve it:

  1. Carpet Extractor Will Not Turn On
  2. Carpet Extractor Will Not Stay On
  3. Brush Has Stopped Working 
  4. Carpet Extractor Has Poor Water Pickup or Low Suction
  5. Low Solution Flow
  6. No Heat or Low Heat

1. Problem: Carpet Extractor Will Not Turn On 

Possible Cause: Not Plugged In or Dead Battery 

Small carpet extractors like spotters, wand-type, and self-contained extractors are typically cord-electric, while some larger self-contained extractors are battery-powered. 

One common reason your carpet extractor will not turn on is that it is either not plugged in or the batteries are dead. Sometimes plugs are not actually plugged into the outlet; they may have fallen out or may have been placed in a faulty outlet. 

The Fix: For a cord-electric machine, check to make sure the plug hasn’t fallen out of the outlet and that the outlet isn’t faulty. 

IYellow Cordf the carpet extractor is plugged in, test for a faulty outlet. Plug another device into the same outlet to see if it is getting any power. If the device is not getting any power, the outlet is likely faulty. Try resetting the circuit breaker for the wall outlet. 

If the device is getting power, the problem is not with the wall outlet. The extractor’s power cord may be damaged and will need to be replaced. 

For a battery-powered carpet extractor, test the batteries to make sure they are charged. If the batteries are charged, make sure the wires running to the battery are tightly connected. If the issue is not with the power cord or the battery, the issue may be with the on-board charger. The extractor will not run if it is connected to the on-board charger. 

Pro Tip: The extractor will not run if it is connected to the on-board charger.

Possible Cause: Carpet Extractor Has an On-board Heater

Carpet extractors equipped with an on-board heater require two separate circuits to operate. One to run the machine and one to heat the water. Frequently two circuits do not exist in one room and you will need to look outside the room for another circuit. 

Pro Tip: All heated units will have a green indicator light to show that you are plugged into two separate circuits.  

The Fix: Check to see that the carpet extractor and on-board heater are plugged into two different circuits. 

If they are plugged into the same circuit, remove one of the plugs and transfer it to another outlet. Check to see if the indicator light is green to show that you have plugged the machine into two separate circuits.  

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to help identify why your carpet extractor won’t turn on, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

2. Problem: Carpet Extractor Will Not Stay On 

Possible Cause: Carpet Extractor Trips Wall Circuit 

A tripped wall circuit breaker is caused by a temporary overload on the circuit or a short in the device plugged into the electrical outlet. 

Circuits trip when too much power is being drawn or too much strain is put on the circuit. If the motor draws high amperage, the electrical circuit breaker will stop providing power.

The Fix: Test to see if the outlet will provide power to another device. If there is power to the second device, the problem is not with the outlet. 

If resetting the wall outlet doesn’t help, the issue may be with the machine circuit breaker.

Possible Cause: Carpet Extractor Trips Machine Circuit Breaker 

CircutThe machine circuit breaker protects the electrical circuit and motor from damage due to overload. Similar to tripping a wall circuit, the machine circuit trips when there is a surge or overload in power. 

The Fix: On most carpet extractors, the circuit breaker is located on the machine’s control panel. Let the machine cool down and then reset the machine circuit breaker. 

If your machine is still running intermittently, you should also check for debris buildup on the brush. 

Pro Tip: The more a circuit breaker trips, the weaker a circuit is. A weaker circuit will trip more easily and frequently. 

3. Problem: Brush Has Stopped Working 

Possible Cause: Debris Wrapped Around Brush 

ES400 XLP Brush Removal2

When debris is wrapped around the brush, it can cause the brush to become jammed or slowed down, trip the brush motor circuit, or damage the belt. As a result, this can cause the machine to stop working periodically or even shut off. 

The Fix: The brush roll should be freed of all accumulation. Next, reset the brush motor circuit and make sure there is no damage to the belt. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to help identify why your carpet extractor brush has stopped working, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

Ultimate Guide to Carpet Extractors EBOOK Download

4. Problem: Carpet Extractor Has Poor Water Pickup 

Possible Cause: Carpet Extractor Recovery Tank is Full 

Carpet extractors are designed to remove water, liquids, and soils from carpeted floors,  removing stains and helping to create a cleaner appearance. If your carpet extractor isn't working properly and isn’t fully removing liquids, it is no longer effectively doing its job. 

If the solution recovery tank is full, the machine will not be able to retain any more dirty solution. 

Pro Tip: When the tank is full, there is a float that blocks the suction. 

The Fix: Empty the recovery tank. Test the water pickup after emptying the tank. 

If it is still leaving water and solution behind, check the vacuum hose.

Possible Cause: Recovery Hose is Not Connected or is Loose

Carpet extractors have vacuum recovery systems to remove and contain liquids from the floor. Sometimes, the hose can become loose or disconnected from the vacuum shoe. 

The Fix: Begin by securing the drain hose cap. Once the cap is tightened, check to see if the hose is tightly connected to the vacuum shoe. Sometimes these can loosen with use.  

If the cap is secured and the hose is tightened, there may be damage or buildup in the hose or more frequently the vacuum shoe. 

Pro tip: If the vacuum shoe has a blockage it will leave wet streaks on the floor. To eliminate any wet streaks, remove all accumulation from the vacuum shoe. 

Possible Cause: Recovery Hose is Damaged or Clogged

The recovery hose can be damaged or clogged if it sucks up sharp or large debris. 

Debris can also become lodged in the hose. A clogged or damaged hose can cause a loss of suction. A loss of suction will result in poor extraction results. 

Pro Tip: When too much liquid is left on a carpet it can cause recurring stains which will negatively affect your facility's appearance. 

The Fix: Check the hose for damage or debris build-up. 

For build-up in the hose, detach the hose and empty the debris. 

Inspect the vacuum hose for any small holes, kinks, or cracks. Any cracks or holes will decrease the amount of suction in the hose and will not allow the carpet extractor to properly remove liquid from the floor. The hose will need to be replaced if there is damage. 

Contact an authorized repair technician if there are any cracks or holes in the hose.

If the hose is free of debris and has no damage, check to make sure all the connections are tight and sealed. All caps and hoses must be tightly secured for the vacuuming system to operate properly. Loose connections will not allow the machine to pick up all of the liquid. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to help identify why your carpet extractor has poor water pickup, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

5. Problem: Low Solution Flow 

Possible Cause: Solution Tank Empty 

One common reason your extractor may not be releasing the optimal amount of solution is that there is not enough solution in the tank. 

The Fix: Check the solution level in the solution tank. On most machines, there is a minimum fill line that the solution should never fall below. Fill the solution tank to the appropriate level. 

If there is an adequate amount of solution in the tank, the problem may be with the filter or solution line. 

Possible Cause: Clogged Filter

ES400 XLP Solution Filter removedSolution filters are commonly forgotten, allowing them to get easily clogged. A clogged filter will not allow any water or solution to be released. 

The Fix: Remove and inspect the filter for a blockage. If the filter is dirty, remove any buildup and reconnect to the extractor. Check the lines connected to the filter as well. 

Possible Cause: Spray Jets Become Clogged 

Sprays jets can become blocked from chemicals or from minerals in the water. 

Pro Tip: To fix a clogged jet, do not stick anything through the opening of the hole because it will change the pattern of the spray which will result in wet streaks on the carpet. 

The Fix: Remove the spray jet and soak it in an acidic product such as extraction rinse for a minimum of 15 minutes or until the jet can be fully rinsed clear. Sometimes, the jet will have to soak for as long as a day. 

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to help identify why your carpet extractor isn’t releasing solution, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 

6. Problem: No Heat or Low Heat 

Possible Cause: Heat is Not Turned On

Some carpet extractors will have an on-board heater. Hot water carpet extraction can improve tough stain removal and reduce the time it would otherwise take to restore carpets. 

On-board heaters are not automatically switched on. The on-board heater must be plugged into a separate circuit from the machine cord and activated for use. 

The Fix: Check to make sure that the heater and the machine are plugged into two separate circuits and are powered on. Typically, an indicator light will be illuminated to show that the on-board heater is on. 

Possible Cause: Need to Maintain a Consistent, Slow Cleaning Stroke with the Wand 

Allow equal time between each cleaning pass and the reset pass before making another cleaning pass.  The reset pass is the time it takes to reset the wand for a new cleaning pass.  

The Fix: Slow down between each pass to allow the heater to maintain temperature.

If none of these troubleshooting tips were able to help identify why your carpet extractor has poor heat output, contact an authorized repair center for help identifying and resolving other possible causes. 


Final Thoughts 

Many times, commercial carpet extractors will be plagued by maintenance issues like a loose cap or a cracked vacuum hose that could have been avoided with regular servicing and maintenance. 

Preventative maintenance and scheduled servicing will help reduce the chance of these and other common problems from occurring in the future. You will also experience less unplanned equipment downtime and increased worker productivity. 

If you were unable to make a quick fix using our tips above, EBP staffs highly trained equipment service technicians to troubleshoot and diagnose your janitorial cleaning equipment issues regardless of the brand. EBP operates three repair centers servicing customers from Maine to Virginia.

Our team of factory-trained service technicians is gold certified, which is the highest level of factory training available. They are expertly trained to troubleshoot your carpet extractor problems, and quickly get your equipment back to operating at peak performance.  

Visit our equipment service and repair page to request additional help troubleshooting your carpet extractor or to schedule routine and preventative maintenance today.

Ultimate Guide to Carpet Extractors EBOOK Download

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About Dan Carr

Dan Carr is the Equipment Program Manager for EBP Supply Solutions and a Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified and other training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He holds the ISSA CMI Basic certification and has over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.