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This is not vacuum cleaner that we own, but it is one which we have had to use heavily over the past 4 months. During this time, we have gradually accepted the reality that Heather's 86 years old Dad will not ever be able to return to his home but will have to accept Residential care for the remainder of his life. We have thus been involved in that sad task of giving a house occupied (until last June, when Heather's Mum died) by a couple in their 80's a thorough cleaning before it is put on the market. When we started the task it seemed so easy as regards a vacuum cleaner. Heather's Mum was quite happy with her Ewbank and her 10 years-old Electrolux cylinder cleaner, but whilst she was in hospital about year ago, this latter appliance over-heated and was beyond economic repair. It was replaced with a (well-rated by 'Which' magazine) Miele S 3111 'cylinder' cleaner bought from John Lewis. It is very smart in its dark blue and dark grey plastic and is furnished with a crevice nozzle, dusting brush, upholstery nozzle, floorhead, the first three being stored in a compartment accessed by opening the top lid. The 'floorhead' is meant to be left fixed to the hose, and an illustration in the Instructions Booklet shows a person carrying the vacuum cleaner in their right hand, with the cleaner hose attached and over their right shoulder with the floorhead attached to the extension tubes and clipped onto the side of the vacuum cleaner body. Weighing about 7/8 kilograms in total, this may well suit the average Bruhilde of Bavaria, but unfortunately Heather is unable to do this, lacking the strength to do so. I also found that this method of carrying also placed strain on the right side, the better arrangement being to do any shifting in 2 shifts. The floorhead has two settings - one showing short hair, the other showing long. Sign language used by the Gee family is obviously different
from those in Bavaria, or wherever the Miele appliances are designed. We naturally assumed that the short pile was for kitchen carpeting/floor tiles and hard floors, and the long-pile for carpets - Wrong ! After struggling to push the floorhead over the (relatively well-worn) carpet in the dining room, after Heather complained that it was 'hard to do'. I noted that it was set to the long pile setting, and agreed with Heather that this was probably the way it was meant to operate. Vacuumed the room but found that my arm ached at the end of it. Reading the Instruction manual showed that the long pile setting was actually an indicator of the brush assembly being extended (for hard surfaces and very short pile carpet. The short pile setting was thus the setting for the brush assembly to be retracted and was intended for carpets. This made things considerably easier and proved, once more that the Operating Instructions are there for READING. Obviously this is what would have happened with any appliance actually bought for the Gee family household before the appliance was used. It is not something that you would automatically do if using an appliance in another household, and it is also something that teenagers (well ours’ anyway) often find great difficulty to learn. The motor is a powerful 1500 watts, with a power control on the top of the casing. It is excellent at picking up bits and pieces, but we both found the hose and extension tubes equipped with the floor head to be awkward to use, the angle just not feeling 'right', and backache developing after a period of 30 minutes or so use. The cleaner has a hepa filter canister that must be changed annually at about £13 a time. Another criticism which we had was difficulty in finding places that sold replacement dust bags. Even our local John Lewis, Comet, Sainsburys & Safeways 'Superstores and Currys were unable to help, referring us to the Mi
ele Spare Parts Department. The 'last bag' was therefore emptied and re-used (no doubt to the detriment of the hepa filter). Another feature which impressed me (but frightened Heather) was what is undoubtedly the best and most powerful 'cord rewind' mechanism that I have encountered. It is easy to pull out the cord and indeed it does so automatically as you walk around pulling the cleaner behind you. However, when you place your foot on the 'rewind step' on the top of the vacuum cleaner, it is wound in at an amazing speed, so fast that you should ensure that no small dogs, cats, or other wee beasties are not in the vicinity. Seriously, the electric plug, on one occasion caught my foot when being rewound and it did hurt (Serves you right for not having your slippers on, said a (very) unsympathetic wife). Overall, we were very pleased to return to our Hoover upright Vortex's (1500 or 2010), which are used in conjunction with an older Electrolux 1000 watt cylinder cleaner with a crevice nozzle for doing the various crannies around the house. At least with this cleaner, it is light, the dust bags were freely available (and I stocked up with them when Frasers of Edinburgh were selling off their stock at 50p a bag of 5 a few sales ago), and it has no fierce cord re-wind to threaten my feet or any other wee beasties.
Short name: Miele S311i