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The Hoover WindTunnel 3 High Performance Bagless Upright review:

Cleaning the Hoover’s brushroll is not as easy a task as with a Dyson vacuum, but it’s significantly easier than cleaning the Dirt Devil’s brush. You must take a screwdriver and remove half of the bottom plate of the vacuum cleaner. Unlike the Dirt Devil, however, you do not need to remove the wheels or keep track of as many screws. You also won’t need to open the Hoover’s brushwell as much thanks to the wide opening that gives you more than enough room to manually clear jams without busting out the screwdriver.

The Hoover’s 15-inch wide brushroll and vacuum nozzle also give you extra cleaning coverage and it will easily vacuum 5 inches deep under furniture, provided that your furniture’s clearance is at least five-inches high.

Performance
We put each of the vacuums through a series of rigorous tests to assess how they do with debris types you may encounter in your home. Our tests included Fruity Cheerios, a sand and sawdust mixture (to mimic fine particulate debris), pet hair, and human hair, collected from a hair extension kit. We performed every test three times each on three different surface types: low-pile carpet, mid-pile carpet, and hardwood/laminate floors. We also conducted a torture test, scattering nearly three ounces of bobby pins, washers, and nuts on the low-pile carpet.

Given the Hoover’s long-standing reputation, I had high expectations. Certainly, I did not expect it to outperform $600-plus vacuum cleaners (though, in some tests, it did), but I did expect it to hold its own among other sub-$200 vacuums.

On low-pile carpet, the Hoover collected 60 percent of the Fruity Cheerios, 95 percent of the sand/sawdust mix, and 100 percent of the pet hair. To put this in perspective, it collected the least amount of Cheerios of any vacuum we’ve tested so far, tied for first place with eight other vacuums which all picked up 100 percent of the pet hair, and outperformed every other vacuum with the sand/sawdust.

On mid-pile carpet, the Hoover picked up 65 percent of the Cheerios, 87 percent of the sand/sawdust blend, and 100 percent of the pet hair. It picked up the second least amount of Cheerios, with only the Dirt Devil performing worse. The Hoover tied, again, with eight other vacuums, all of which picked up 100 percent of the pet hair. The sand/sawdust pickup was decreased and yet the Hoover still was a contender, outperforming all of the vacuums but the Eureka, which collected 91 percent.

Hard floors presented challenges for nearly all of the vacuums. This is, in large part, due to the fact that most manufacturers recommend disabling the brushroll to clean hard floors to prevent scratching. The Hoover was no exception. In this test, it collected 69 percent of the Cheerios, 98 percent of the sand/sawdust mix, and a negligible amount of pet hair. It rested comfortably in the middle of the pack in terms of Cheerios pick up and, while I wished it wasn’t the case, the Hoover was also in the majority with pet hair, sharing negligible results with seven other vacuums. With sand and sawdust, the Hoover shared a third-place rating with two Dysons, the DC50 Animal and the DC41 Animal Complete.

These hard surface tests are somewhat unrealistic in their real-life applications, both in terms of debris type and volume. After all, most people will use a broom and dustpan to take care of kitchen debris because they are convenient and quick. Many manufacturers make some pretty serious claims about hard surface performance, however, and so we felt that it was necessary to test those claims under the same methodology we used to test carpet performance.

Several of the vacuums struggled with human hair, no matter the surface. If you don’t have long-haired inhabitants or pets in your home, this may not be a problem for you. The Hoover struggled on carpet, averaging one-third of the hair winding up in the bin and the rest wrapping itself around the brushroll. The process of untangling this hair was tedious, but not as bad as on other models. On hard floors, the Hoover produced opposite results, with one-third in the brushwell and the rest in the bin.

We graded the torture test on a pass/fail scale. If the vacuum didn’t break, it passed. We designed this test to determine ruggedness, rather than to measure how much heavy or troublesome debris a vacuum could collect. In other words, would your vacuum break if you accidentally ran over some spare change or errant bobby pins? We hoped not. In this test, the Hoover surprised me, picking up small washers, a small nut, a large washer, and most of the bobby pins without jamming. Don’t consider this a suggestion that this Hoover could double as a shop-vac. Let me be plain — it shouldn’t be used for that purpose. These results, however, did instill great confidence in me about this vacuum’s ability to survive a household like mine where, as my husband puts it, there exists a veritable minefield of bobby pins.

Maintenance and support
The Hoover comes with a five-year limited warranty. This is comparable to other, similar or equally priced models like the Bissell PowerGlide Deluxe Pet Vacuum. One plus for Hoover is that, unlike competitors, it offers a comprehensive parts page where you can purchase everything from filters to brushroll replacements to new dustbins to individual screws. I really appreciate this feature because it gives you options to repair or extend the life of your machine without needing to visit a repair shop. For example, if your vacuum’s performance decreases, you may be able to fix it easily with a new filter and brushroll. If, however, you’re less the DIY type, Hoover’s website also offers a page to find certified service centers.

The manual has a fairly comprehensive list of problems that could cause this to happen. You can solve many of these problems by emptying the bin or cleaning the filter, both of which Hoover recommends you do at prescribed intervals to avoid problems down the road. I appreciate the warning light, though, since as it makes it even easier to maintain the vacuum yourself.

Conclusion
The Hoover isn’t the best choice for people looking for help maintaining hard flooring surfaces. Consumers with hard floors should consider spending a little more for the $309 Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean, which boasts many of the same features as the Hoover but better hard floor performance.

If, however, you primarily have carpet in your home and want to purchase a sub-$200 vacuum, this Hoover would be an excellent choice. A top performer with pet hair and the top performer with fine particulate on low-pile carpet, the Hoover and its HEPA filter could help manage the allergens and dust that cause your allergies or asthma to flare up. Plus, at $179, the Hoover WindTunnel 3 Performance Bagless Upright will clean your floors without cleaning out your checking account.

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