Monday, July 11, 2011

Kärcher DIY Multi-purpose Vacuum Cleaner Review

I’m rubbish at DIY. However by necessity there are times that I need to do it and every time leads to a big mess. Likewise any time I’ve ever moved house there has been endless mess to clean up, like water spills, bits of plaster on the floor or rubbish that’s no good for our normal vacuum cleaner. Add to that the tree in our garden that drops leaves everywhere, and it’s about time I stepped up to the household duties and solved these problems. What I need is a ‘Man-Vac’.



That’s what the Multi-purpose Vacuum Cleaner from Kärcher was dubbed before I was given one for review, and I’ve got to admit that it sounded like the solution to a lot of the problems above. I’ve tried our household Dyson on leaves, DIY mess and other bits and pieces and it’s lucky to have survived the ordeal. Thankfully I didn’t try it on water, as that may have been the last thing I ever tried it on. So I was pretty curious to see how the Kärcher vac stood up to these tasks.

 
Setup
For a vacuum cleaner that claims to do so many things I imagined that setup would be tricky, and that the first task I’d use it for would be to clean up the mess I made setting it up. Thankfully the only assembly required is popping four wheels on the base and plugging in a plug and the hose. You can put the hose on the front or the back of the unit depending on whether you want to use it to suck, or to blow.

The hose itself has a short starting length and you can make it longer by attaching two suction tubes. It’s not as neat as having one that extends with a few clicks, but it’s still pretty simple. There’s a two page guide with images for most of the setup and then a brief six pages explaining the functions. Aside from the part on power tools, it’s pretty self explanatory. Plus if this really is a Man-Vac then it’s good we don’t really need the instructions.


Vaccuum (Dry)
So let’s first look at the basics. As you’d expect for a vacuum cleaner you get two cleaning heads – one for crevices and another for standard floors / carpets and additional nozzles for small gaps. We’ve got three cats and a dog, but the vac still did a good job picking up the pet hair in amongst standard vacuuming and didn’t get clogged up in the process. This actually gave it an advantage over our Dyson, which does have a head that needs to be emptied every few uses due to pet hair build-up.

On the whole it wasn’t as good as the Dyson as the wheels didn’t have as good traction on the carpet, and the lack of a rotating brush wasn’t as good for smaller bits and pieces but generally it’s still a very capable house cleaner. Clearly that’s not the main draw for something so heavily focused on DIY, but it’s certainly good enough to earn it the Multipurpose tag in the name. Plus it will double up well if you don’t own a separate vac for the house.

Vacuum (Water)
My first test of water suction was to fill up a vase with water and to time how quick the water was sucked up. To be honest there was little point in monitoring the time as the results were pretty much instant. It would have taken me longer to start and stop a timer than to do the test, as the water was gone in less than a second.

Spilling water on tiled flooring was equally impressive, with the nozzle able to get right close to the ground and absorb everything. Even on carpets it’ll pick up a lot of absorbed water in a fast time. When you’re done you’ve just got to remember to hold the tube to remove any excess and it’s ready. In order to suck water you need to remove the filter inside first, so the vac isn’t really designed for you to suck dry stuff and then wet stuff and back again in the same session.


However for efficiency, you can keep dry and wet stuff in the same central unit. On that note as well it’s worth highlighting that pretty much the entire unit base is the container so what you see is what you get. There’s no fancy innards that get in the way of storage space. All the technical stuff in housed in the top, and 75% of the unit itself is for storage as you vac. It’s much better economy than typical household cleaners where most of the unit you drag around is gizmos with a tiny area for the collected waste to go in.

Vacuum (Electrical Tools)
You can connect tools directly to the unit by plugging them in to the vac, so if you only have one power socket in your garage it’s no problem. That’s a great idea that I could see other manufacturers ignoring to cut costs, so it’s another plus point for Kärcher. You plug the hose in your power tool, and then use a different on switch on the vac. This means the vac only sucks when the power tool is on. Great for you to focus on the task at hand without the vac humming away.

Blowing
When you need to change the function of the vac, you unclip the hose and move it to the base on the unit. Flick the power switch and you’re now be blowing air instead. The most fun to be had with this is blowing leaves around the garden in to neat piles or scaring your pets. It’s very powerful so takes some degree of control (unless you want to blow all your leaves in to the neighbour’s garden) and you can’t change the amount of pressure, either. As an entry level blower it’s a great start, and certainly another worthy addition to the vac if you need one that does everything.

 
Cleaning
For a vac with a lot of features I was dreading cleaning it. Thankfully it’s just a giant bowl and a filter. You pour away the insides and then wipe inside the bowl. All the technical bits are kept well out of the way, and cleaning the filter is as easy as running it under water and leaving it out to dry. If you want to go the extra mile you can also wash the pipes and brush any bits off the nozzles, but even taking all that in to consideration it takes five minutes to clean and pack away for storage.

Summary
It’s not the best vaccum cleaner on the market, or for £130, but it is one of the best value at that price. The extra features are all high quality and well thought through. If you need even two of the features then it’s pretty much a no brainer to go for this rather than buying separate pieces of machinery at a more expensive price. I found a use for every feature, and if a DIYphobe like myself can, than I can only imagine how great it will be for those who live for DIY.

For more information visit the official website.

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Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).