Newest Review: ... Vax Ultrixx is a very heavy machine and solidly built, which should be a good thing. However when you are 5ft 3 (on a good day with a f... more
Vax, no Fanx
Vax V-041P Ultrixx Pet Upright
Member Name: Dryad
Vax V-041P Ultrixx Pet Upright
Date: 22/03/10, updated on 03/04/10 (402 review reads)
Advantages: Good when they work
Disadvantages: They don't work for long, very fiddly to do anything to or with.
I've gone through quite a few vacuum cleaners over the years, with most of them lasting about three years. Not really satisfactory considering everyone over the age of 65 that I know has had vacuum cleaners that have lasted 20 years or more... Or so they say, they could just be winding me up. I suppose we are living in the age of built in obsolescence, so I guess three years of hard graft - I have lots of cats and a dog that leaves his silhouette in fur on the carpet whenever he gets up isn't too horrendous.
A version also published on ciao
When I bought the Vax Ultrixx I was looking for something a little cheaper than the Dyson I had had previously. Which although it was magnificent at picking up the hair and gave a fantastic clean, was very expensive, and had during its 3 year reign (approx.,) a couple of repairs. So I needed something that wasn't going to swoon at the thought of being used every single day, throughout most of the house. I wanted something that was a reasonable price, and was more than anything reliable. When I saw the Vax in question at Argos it seemed to fit these requirements. When I bought it the price was £99.00; you can now get it in some places for about £71.00 (e.g.Amazon market place)
On opening the box I was met with what I considered a handsome machine, it was a nice solid glossy red colour, apart from the clear 'dust' container. It looked almost streamlined, and came with a 'turbo tool' which you affixed to the hose once it was (easily) disconnected from the head of the vacuum. The turbo tool looks quite impressive and feels solid and well made. It is designed to cope with areas of high pet hair 'infestation' over small areas, such as stairs, places where your pet chooses to sleep etc. This does not include the bath, or sea grass box shelves of course, which are the two preferred sleeping areas of Minette, the matriarch of my little cat tribe. I found the tool to be very good for approximately one minute, until any actual hair builds up, it can't cope with anything other than a light dusting of fine kitty hair. Give it the wiry guard hairs of a dog in any quantity and the air powered brush just stops turboing, and seizes up like a wimp. So although I loved the look and feel of the turbo tool it just wasn't effective in my household, so I gave up trying to use it. Other tools included with the Vax were the usual crevice tool, which worked perfectly fine, and a little upholstery tool which also worked as it was meant to.
The Vax Ultrixx is a very heavy machine and solidly built, which should be a good thing. However when you are 5ft 3 (on a good day with a following wind) it's really not very easily manoeuvred. It reminds me of a line from the 'Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy'. "Looks like a fish, moves like a fish, steers like a cow", the wheels themselves function well, it's just that the machine is proportioned (I suspect) for someone taller than myself. I found that the head while big and giving a good width of cleaning area did not clean right up to the edge, and left a border of about a centimetre around everything vacuumed. The dust container is about 2.4 Litres; whilst this looks quite big through the clear canister it fills up very quickly and needs to be emptied several times during a normal vacuuming session. This is easily done though and not too much of a chore. You simply lean the cleaner back, press a 'button' near the top of the canister and pull, a 'button' at the bottom releases the base which swings open on a sturdy hinge to empty the contents. To replace the canister simply reverse these instructions without the pressing of the button at the top. This machine has hepa-filtration, and at the base of the canister where it rests on the head of the machine is a little fibrous filter disk. This should be flapped about now and then, to relieve it of dust build up. It is also (hand) washable, and replaceable. The top of the canister can be twisted off, and there is another spongy filter resting on mesh which should also be relieved of its dust cargo regularly, and can be washed (replacements are also available), there is also a folded sturdy paper filter, which is reminiscent of some car air filters ; you can also buy replacements for this. All this sort of feels like overkill to me, and to be honest my eyes still itch and my chest still wheezes after vacuuming, just as it does with most other cleaners (I'm asthmatic and hayfevery). The cord length is not great, I can only clean one and a half rooms (next to each other) without having to change sockets, and trying to clean the stairs is a nightmare, as the hose is not very stretchy and you do have to drag a very heavy cleaner up the stairs, and perch the big heavy head on steps as you clean.
The cleaner has a grey foot operated lever at the back, which allows the machine to stay upright. This is vital not only for storage, but because using the hose with attachments, such as crevice tool, or turbo brush will only work if the cleaner is bolt upright. This is rather unfortunate as this lever broke, with my original cleaner, and with the replacement (which I haven't come to yet !). If it had only broken once I would have assumed it was a fluke, but for the same problem to occur twice I think it may be a design fault.
To use the tools you have to lock (or hold with one hand) the vacuum upright and detach the hose from the back of the cleaner and unclip it from its resting spot (it forms a sort of inverted u shape at the back of the cleaner). You then simply attach whatever you need to the end and away to go. The process is simple, but the stretch of the hose isn't very good, and you can't go far without having to drag the monolith with you... I don't half moan don't I! I have to admit I'm no Anthea Turner. There are several areas at the back where you can unclip the hose and dig around to remove things that shouldn't have been sucked up. This is extremely fiddly and you can't get at every spot easily, a big negative for me, as I'm always mowing things down in a cavalier fashion, tights, socks, frayed carpet edges - all grist to my mill.
One thing I noticed about this machine which I think is quite dangerous is that if you should vacuum over a cable, it will often get dragged in with a combination of suction and the action of the rotating brushes... I haven't mentioned those have I - it has a rotating brush bar, which works well on pet hairs as well as cables. Not only does it suck in the cables, but if they are a fine gauge, such as phone line, or mobile charger it will shred them or slice through them! I know we shouldn't run over cables with our vacuum cleaners, but my house if full of the blasted things. In the early days before I saw what the machine did to cables I was tempted to vacuum close to them without moving them... sort of nudge them out of the way with the head. Not something I tried more than twice (I'm a slow leaner and lazy). The brush bar whilst a nice cleaning aid can be a bit of a pain in a household with longhaired inhabitants. Myself and both my daughters have long hair, and a tendency to moult, the brush bar soon gets obliterated with a tricoloured sausage of hair which needs hacking off regularly.
As I mentioned previously I had to return my first purchase of the Vax Ultrixx, not only because of the upright lock issue but also a more problematic one. The Vax started out working wonderfully, it was cumbersome but did a good job fairly quickly. However the rubber belt kept snapping, and after only 4 months a problem occurred with the motor (I presume) as it started to cut out after vacuuming for only a minute or two. I replaced filters etc. but in the end sent it back. In fairness the customer support was superb. We received a replacement quickly with few questions asked. I was very annoyed though to find that this new vacuum developed exactly the same problems. Right down to the belt breaking often, and the locking lever breaking off, the engine on the new one was cutting out after only 30 to 60 seconds of vacuuming (literally). I don't think this was to do with usage as nothing like this had happened with previous cleaners. Some other niggles with the machine are that it is very noisy, much noisier than other uprights I have owned. There is no rewind facility for the cable, I don't' mind this terribly, it has two prongs, one very low set, to wind the cable around and this works ok. However where the cable leaves the machine is very low on the cleaner, so I found I had to constantly hold it out of the way, or put it over my shoulder or it would become entangled in the wheels of the Cleaner.
We did find Vax customer services generally very helpful, and they sent us numerous new belts and filters but nothing worked, and in the end we simply gave up on the Vax.
Having had a wet and dry Vax many years ago, and having problems with that too, I have to say that this is a brand I would not recommend simply on grounds of reliability. When they work they do a great job, they just don't work for long. I have to add that being the new proud owner of a Numatic Henry who is such a simple thing in comparison to the Vax that I can't see the need for all the gizmos that the more sophisticated machines have. Henry does the job just as well without all the palaver.
These are the specs I found on Amazon, as sadly I long ago lost mine, this is also why I haven't included details of instructions that came with the machine, apollogies for that.
* Additional Power Socket: Not Applicable
* Animal Brush: No (mine did come with this)
* Cable Rewind: No
* Controls in Handle: No
* Fragrance Diffusor: No
* HEPA Filter: Yes
* Hardfloor Brush: No
* Integrated Tools: Yes
* Maximum Volume of Dust Collector in Litre: 2.4
* Maximum Wattage: 1650
* Multifunctional: No
* Noise Level in Decibels: unknown
* Power Brush: Yes
* Power Supply: Mains
* Tube Material: Plastic Telescopic
* Turbine Brush: Yes
* Type / Shape: Upright (Beat & Brush)
* Type of Dust Container: Bagless
* Variable Power: No
Summary: Not worth the hassle
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