A Review of the Upright Vacuum by GE

November 5, 2008

help, thrift

“Upright Vacuum” isn’t exactly a creative name for GE’s gold-colored vac. I guess it’s better than the model number (169171). I bought the vacuum at WalMart several months ago when my lemon (a Dirt Devil) died. I had only a few qualifications and I’d be happy:

HEPA filter
onboard attachments
small amperage use
actually vacuumed floors

Vacuum box

Vacuum 1

Vacuum 4

I don’t know why vacuums are generally very poorly made. I haven’t had a good, solid, quality vacuum in about 25 years, when Sears and GE made them in this country. All the vacuums seem to be made of cheap plastic and fragile moving parts. We usually replace our vacuum every year or two, and that’s a LOT to add to the credit cards for a $50 to $100 appliance.

The GE has three separate filters, all very small. One is a HEPA filter about the size of an index card. The other two filters are small plastic foam filters. The HEPA must be replaced every month ($10) but the plastic foam filters are washable– you just rinse them out.

Two positive and two negative things stand out with this vacuum. For one, it’s a pretty powerful vacuum at 10amps and 120 volts. It does a good job on low shag (or no shag carpets). It picks up dirt from my indoor-outdoor carpeting like no other vacuum has before.

Vacuum rug

The HEPA filter idea is nice, even though it’s small. The monthly cost of $10 is a little steep. My floors are not all carpeted so I think I can stretch the time span a little.

Negatively, the machine has an adjustable handle, but it’s a joke. It wobbles so bad that the vacuum is unstable. So the handle must be kept at a short-height setting. And the dirt container (with “dual cyclone action”) does not stay in the vacuum. One of the kids was carrying the vacuum down the stairs, holding the handle in the front. The handle is part of the dirt container. It popped out of the latch and the vacuum went tumbling down the stairs. The vacuum was amazingly not broken! But we now know that you can’t use the front handle… so it’s awkward to carry.

My daughter does the vacuuming in the house. She is mildly satisfied with the GE Upright Vacuum, but there are a few glaring blemishes. Here is her list of pros and cons:

Has a height adjuster in the handle
Uses a filter, not a bag
Has a hose and attachments
Works better than a broom…
Shiny gold paint (put it in the corner and guests will never guess it’s a vac!)
Vacuums short carpets well

Adjustable handle is wobbly and unstable
Does not vacuum corners well (too thick and bulky)
Dirt container empties from the bottom, so it’s awkward and messy
Cord is not long enough
Tools are a little loose and rickety in their places
Does not vacuum thicker carpets well

So the consensus is… we’ll probably be looking for another vacuum in a year or two. I have yet to find the “perfect” vacuum. Maybe instead of the stores, I should try the garage sales and look for an old Kirby or Kenmore….

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12 Responses to “A Review of the Upright Vacuum by GE”

  1. Paul Says:

    We bought an Oreck 3 years ago and have never looked back. It is built well and does a good job of vacuuming. Very light too. Main downside is that it is pricey…

  2. tahtimbo Says:

    I was just reading your article and I noticed that your floor looks a lot like the one I installed 2 years ago. Ours is from Dupont (from Home Depot) and it is the country-style flooring.

  3. Aili Says:

    A Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson, a Dyson…

    I hear nothing but joy from Dyson owners. Also, I have a friend who worked in the ‘small appliance retail’ business for a while, and he converted so many vacuum buyers as he, personally, would never buy anything but a Dyson, so he was pretty convincing.

  4. Mize Says:

    By the vacuum cleaner´s design I wonder if the person who did it ever used one. Anyone can see the handle doesn´t work, lol.
    Well, at least it´s new and it works for you.
    I hate carpets, I avoid them at all cost, lol.

  5. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    I tried an Oreck in the 90s. It was $350! Yikes! We did the Oreck “free trial,” but discovered we had to pay to ship it back, and that was about $25. So I guess you could say I “rented” an Oreck for $25. The cost was just too much and it didn’t perform well in corners.

    Tahtimbo– funny you should mention the laminate flooring. I just wrote an update on ours and plan to publish it soon. You’re ahead of the times, man!

    A Dyson! Never thought of them; they sound great! Don’t they process chickens?? Oh wait that’s Tyson. :S

    Mize– yeah, everyone can see! Exept me! :S That didn’t even occur to me… ugh. I think next time I’m going to check out the chicken vacuums…

  6. Suzy P Says:

    I bought one of these purrrdy vacs less than a year ago at WalMart and it’s currently duct-taped in three places! Three of the little plastic prongs holding parts in place have broken off and the little spring under the tab holding the ‘bagless’ part in place has disappeared due to one of those little prongs having broken. (NO, I’m not rough with my appliances – it’s just cheaply built!) To clean it you must remove an inner cylander which is a hassle, especially cuz once the container is full of dust it’s hard to see the little white guide arrows they’ve provided in order to line up the ‘twist to lock’ mechanism…unless you want to stick your arm in there with a damp cloth to wipe out the clingy dust. And, it’s bad enough that those little filters are so expensive – just try to find them in stock! HA! VERY irritated with GE over this model and can guarandang-tee I’ll never own another plastic/bagless vacuum, GE or otherwise. If the economy ever picks up again and I’m able to get called back to work or find other employment this will be in the trash bin along with all it’s duct-tape!!

  7. armando Says:

    I buy a vacuum, ge. model 169171 maybe 14 moth. ago, but cople day ago I use tha vacuum for 15 minitues continued and I off tha vacuum and 3 minutes later I try to continuet to work and no work. Do yuo plz. help me w/ me problem tks.

  8. Suzy P Says:

    armando ~ Twice I experienced this GE model shutting down ~ it must not like an average workout! If you wait awhile it seems to reset itself and will start again. It must not cool properly if you don’t empty the dust collector every 5 minutes and change the filters every week!

  9. Anna Says:

    we found one of those and have been wanting to use it but we’re worried it’s missing a filter. Do you have more pictures? Does it have two long filters in the canisters? We got it and it just has these cone thing on the left side and it seems like there should be a filter there but there isn’t.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Hi Anna. I got rid of mine. As far as I remember, there are no filters in the bulging areas of that dust bin. The vac never worked well on my carpets, although it is great for bare floors and very, very low shag carpets. Hope that helps!

  10. Phil Dumpster Diver Says:

    Found one in the garbage and thought I’d found something valuable, looks like I should just salvage parts and chuck it. It DID do the shut off problem almost immediately. GE needs better engineers!

  11. Christina Says:

    Any idea where to purchase the filters for this vacuum-I got it several years ago but only used it a handful of times because I hired a cleaning company and am now in need of filters.