Exact same problem as 'Elbow Grease'. Not used very often, accessories still virtually new. Waste of money.
Wonderful at first - steam cleaning is marvellous and produces a shiny, germ-free finish. But ...... my machine started leaking very shortly after the guarantee period ended and with the leak an incredible loss of steam power and potential scalding problems. The retailer wasn't interested and Hoover advised that a service engineer just to call would cost more than the machine originally cost and then, supposedly in a spirit of goodwill (!!) offered me a replacement ( from the factory gate) at more than the original had cost! There is no chance to take the machine apart yourself to see if the problem is easy to solve yourself since the machine seems to snap together somehow and the only way to take it apart is to break it.
Never even had the chance to try out the range of tools which comes with the machine which are still in new condition
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
Hoover Vaporzipp VPA0310
1300 Watt boiler element.
0.3L small water tank.
2 terry towel socks enclosed (machine and hand washable).
Squeegee window cleaner attachment
Brush attachment (upholstery)
Stiff round brush attachment
Angled steam nozzle attachment
Straight steam nozzle attachment
Straight from the tap water fillable permanently fixed tank with seal lock.
Variable steam output slide control (rubber protected).
Neon LED light.
Smart, red and very modern looking.
Prices from £49-99
2 bar steam pressure with 20 second heat up time.
7 metre cable, 18cm height, 30cm width. 1.2 kg weight with angled handle.
When it came to bringing my steam cleaner to the halls of residence, I came across one stumbling block; where to put it. The entire storage situation in my kitchen consists of cupboards small enough to house tins of food and large enough to keep anything bigger than the largest sauce pan available. My old Dirt Devil jug could fit but the box wouldnt be able to and neither would the long list of attachments which are bulky at the best of times unless the whole product is packed away in its box. As such I was wondering how I would be able to cope without a steam cleaner, having preferred to use a machine rather than rely on chemicals to clean up. I nearly chose a "Vaporetto" steam gun until John Lewis issued a recall on it and this is where the Hoover Vaporzipp comes in. Briefly the purchase of a smaller gun is to clean the bathroom mirror, shower cabinet and general surfaces such as the marble effect worktops and fitted hob in my kitchen. ** Please note, this is a long review! **
** Price **
Coloured in red and looking very "Star ship trooper" like, it avoids the fact that it is a main steam cleaner with its small water jug and lack of flooring attachments. At £49.99 though which I consider middle of the range for a steam cleaner I thought initially that this product was a little expensive for what it is but how has it done so far?
** Attachments and Design **
Well, there is more to the Vaporzipp than meets the eye! Quite literally there are a myriad of attachments to keep you busy when using the gun. Attachments like the usual stiff brush (ideal for cleaning in between the grills on Oven shelves) and a flat squeegee with additional upholstery brush attachment are eye openers however. Other attachments include two terry cotton socks (as opposed to normally just one which you get with a compact product like this) which are elasticated and easily fit over the squeegee foot attachment for cleaning glass. Three angled steam spouts are also supplied; the usual stiff brush round attachment, an angled 45° spout and a straight spout for direct spray of steam. Against official data however the gun can be used on floor tiles but you'd have to bend down and get on the floor to do this as there is no long hose or long pipes issued brand new.
The design of the Vaporzipp however has been well thought of, which I found surprising for a model which bears the Hoover brand name. Take for example the whole product; although the handle is not rubberised, it feels controlling enough to hold without the appliance slipping out of your hand; at the bottom of the handle for example there is a rubber protected slider which adjusts the steam output of the gun. To where your hand is, there is a plastic ribbed section which seems to grip the hand despite its surface not made of rubber. At the back, you will find the see through dark grey acrylic tank which holds cold tap water. Now here it is a lot easier to fill, because the open seal hole is big enough to accommodate standard kitchen and bathroom taps, and with little spillage, water can be filled straight through with no need for additional measurement jugs or a funnel. Then drop the seal control in and twist to the coloured silver circle on the top of the tank to lock the water in. Even in use when the Vaporzipp is used upside down, no water leaks out of the seal.
Attachments however fit onto the end of the steam nozzle via nibbed, twist and turn to lock aided secure tabs which the opposite end (female?) can be seen before the male connectors are fitted in and locked.
** So How Does it Operate? **
Filled only with cold water (filling it with boiled water will simply burn out the element) first and sealed, the Hoover switches on automatically the moment you plug the appliance in and switch on at the plug. A handy red LED light comes on to let the user know that it is heating up, and like a standard iron, the light will go out when the tank has reached its temperature. As the well worded manual states, it does generally take 20 seconds for the gun to heat up, but with the long 7 metre power cord on tow, it makes sense to keep the Vaporzipp plugged in for another minute to ensure longer and precise steam surges.
And this is exactly how the gun works. By the handle there is a gun trigger which when squeezed, starts up the pump within the Vaporzipp and emits surged steam sprays. Although not noisy the gentle hum of the pump vibrates through the handle and indeed body a little with an abundance of steam emitted from the end of the choice nozzles. Once the LED light goes out, it is best advised to remove the plug from the wall to ensure that all the steam can be used up. On recollection though when I left the plug in the wall, the Vaporzipp became very hot including the handle so its best not to keep the appliance plugged in all the time when in use to avoid high temperatures travelling to your hand. The noise of the steam upon release isn't too loud either which is another surprise.
That's not to say that the Vaporzipp is not insulated well. The nozzles in particular are classy looking with Hoover's name stamped on them, but overtime the gun can get very hot if you leave it on all the time whilst in use. Since the nozzles are directing central steam, they can also get hot overtime so in this respect I find using a dry tea cloth for example can unlock the nozzle safely before moving onto the next one, if needed. Thankfully the power cord on the Vaporzipp is rubber and double insulated.
** Size and Weight **
What is more impressive is the fact that its compact size really comes into its own, even if it mirrors the size of a somewhat commercial AC hair dryer. Compare this to a standard jug kettle and the difference is clear in terms of size. Thanks to the shape and design of the moveable power cord sprouting from the bottom of the handle, the Vaporzipp can be temporarily parked before being lifted up and used again. The weight of the Vaporzipp is 1.2kg which is lighter than my old Dirt Devil jug at 1.5kg but to be fair whilst the Hoover lacks any pretence of offering a longer hose to get into nooks and crannies, the shape of its elevated nose and spouts ensure a similar accessible facility without the use of two hands on the Dirt Devil jug as opposed to one when holding the Hoover; you simply point, squeeze the trigger and steam away. This means with the other free hand I can wipe away excess dirt.
** How does it clean? **
Over my Dirt Devil jug which uses roughly a bit more water than the Hoover, and the Vaporzipp only having 2 bars of steam pressure against the 2.5 on the Dirt Devil, I actually found that the Hoover cleans faster because of its 1300 watt element against Dirt Devil's 1000 watt maximum power. Not to mention that it also takes a mere 20 seconds to heat up against Dirt Devil's 10 minute warm up time. Despite the slightly lower output of steam bar pressure, coupled with the size of the actual gun itself, the smaller size apes the Dirt Devil in terms of how things have moved on in the world of compacting a design but using similar componentry. Steam therefore from this gun is extremely hot and that's at all levels helped along by the variable slider control which can give minimal to high blasts of steam.
The rings on my sealed cooker hob for example came up sparkling after standing momentarily at the hob pointing the straight nozzle at the rim of the rings for a minute with the result of a lot of black dirt coming off (viewable to the eye) whilst other dirt which cannot be moved by other means sitting between the ring rims and bottom seals of the hob plate revealed that the hob has never been cleaned from new. Oh I know how students live; I've experienced Student "hells" (as I call them) before!
In the bathroom, cleaning the toilet has never been easier because the Hoover can be moved from left to right and pushing the spout closer to the areas that really need cleaning. The bathroom mirror also came up sparkling and glinting using the squeegee attachment, keeping the Vaporzipp slightly elevated downwards with the rubber blades directing its stream of steam downwards and taking off all the soap and general scum that a mirror collects in a bathroom. The user manual does warn not to use on cold glass which can crack and damage the surface; used on my shower doors however the glass came up looking clear and untainted by bubble markings courtesy of shower gels and shampoos which had stained the glass badly before.
The taps and sink in the bathroom (served by a single mixer tap with a champagne water floor head) also came up sparkling, the Vaporzipp effortlessly clearing away the worst of stains especially dried up dust markings caused by rinse tumbler and soap stains on the underside of the tap head. After I had done both rooms, the tank on the Vaporzipp ran out and the pump kept vibrating with no steam being released. Again I unscrewed the seal and found that the bathroom tap fitted inside the aperature of the tank and despite the champagne head, the water filled up again with no mess or drips before sealing the lock top back on.
The round circular brush attachment however is similar in design to Dirt Devil's own (and indeed given that of late Hoover have started to license Dirt Devil's vacuum cleaners, it wouldn't surprise me to find if this is another Dirt Devil) but they don't feature the same hexagonal direct lugs on them which enabled the Dirt Devil to be used permanently in an upright position, causing some long term hand fatigue when trying to angle any jug other than its normal position. Here the Hoover can be angled either left, right or entirely upside down, with the same amount of steam emitted but importantly, with less hand fatigue as a result. The bristles are also spaced out better which means cleaning them afterwards doesn't result in brushes being pushed to the side unlike the Dirt Devil!
However whilst all of the attachments work successfully, the best attachment on the Vaporzipp is the flat upholstery brush tool which fits and snap locks over the squeegee foot plate. I have no intention of using it on upholstery in this student flat, but the best use that this brush has been used for is to steam clean and brush down hanging suits and expensive coats! Not only does the steam direct itself onto the fabric, the long bristles of the brush attract all the fluff in one go which makes my vertical iron look suddenly redundant on its very own advantage!
** Downsides **
There are a few problems with the Hoover Vaporzipp. Over the plausible fact that it doesn't have a larger tank and therefore would probably be issued with a larger footplate for steaming carpets as well as an additional hose, the Vaporzipp makes itself a very good case in terms of a compact gun cleaner which can zap all the dirt in one go, but it can't always do this because of the small water tank which needs regular filling if your cleaning task involves around 30 minutes or more. For quick short blasts the Vaporzipp performs well and cuts the cleaning time with actual use and wiping up dirt in a faster time than my Dirt Devil steam cleaner jug managed.
However, if like me, you don't like to get into a shower cubicle with the Vaporzipp, placing the gun to the side of you with an attachment such as the squeegee foot can loosen itself off and shoot off if you release the steam. I thought that this may have been a design fault and maybe in my experience and expectation it is, but generally the Vaporzipp will only work if you place the machine on flat surfaces with the foot attachments when the weight of your body is emphasized on the handle and body. Attack side on with ill balance and the foot attachments can loosen!
Another downside is the initial release of steam once the trigger has been released. After cleaning, the Vaporzipp still emits a couple of clouds of steam so it is best to direct the gun into the air or to the side of you where the steam won't find you. I know that this makes sense to most consumers but crucially I found this aspect to be disappointing - over the Dirt Devil which has a similar trigger - the steam from the jug stops the moment you release the trigger to stop the jug from releasing anymore steam so in this respect the Hoover has no permanent stop valve judging from the last couple of clouds of steam.
** Storing it **
One of the most important considerations here was seeing how well the Vaporzipp would store. Although I have retained the box for purposes when moving out, the Hoover's cord can be wrapped around the body and stores well into my intended cupboard, taking up very little room if the gun is placed on its hind tank quarters. Once again aside from its attachments (Hoover would do well to offer a branded storage box here) of which I use a small plastic tub for storing them, the size of the Vaporzipp mimics a standard domestic iron - which in my mind takes up less space than a steam cleaner jug and thanks to the micro size of the attachments they can be put in an open compact ice cream box sited next to the appliance for easy retrieval.
** Conclusion **
Perhaps in time the price of £49-99 will drop but for the moment over a larger, bulkier steam cleaner, the Hoover offers a few extra attachments and a bigger, faster heating element. The user manual is also extremely well detailed - another surprise - which wraps up a pretty good appliance which is compact, reasonably easy to use if you are safe when handling hot steam and gets rid of hard to clean patches and areas of dirt where chemicals in a home are not preferred. Sadly though it may be toxic free the Hoover isnt a machine which children can use thanks to its lack of insulation on the small micro attachments and its tendency to emit a little steam once the trigger has been released. There are other steam guns on the market and I have used JML's original steam gun in the past which was brilliant but sadly no longer made. The Hoover is just a more modern and compact interpretation that works generally very well. ©Nar2 2007.