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I've seen George and his smaller brothers ~ James with a yellow face; Henry often red; Charles in blue ~ in various places; all are cheerful and all of them work hard. I've never known one fail to complete a task, and I've seen them smile their way through some really difficult challenges including getting schools, shops, offices, and even a ship, smartened up after the daytime personnel have gone off duty.
My George has a shiny green face, sparkly eyes, a cheeky grin and a little black nose, he wears a black bowler hat. He stands about 50 cm (20 inches) tall … Oh, I didn't say? … George is a wet and dry vacuum cleaner! He's the most versatile of the domestic cleaners made by Numatic, a British company based in Chard. Numatic make bigger machines too; their current range extends from the smallest, household, 1100 W 'James' through to huge 80 litre capacity industrial cleaners. If you'd like to learn more about the company and their full range of products you can visit their website, shown at the end of this review.
~8~ Life before George ~8~
George came into my life from a shop that was closing down, a tragedy for our town, but an unexpected 'birthday' bonus for me. His arrival has changed our lives!
I had spent a few years battling with an expensive upright cleaner that looks fancy, but is too heavy and unwieldy; the extension hose is not long enough to reach the top of our stairs and I'd become fed up with trying to support a heavy and unbalanced weight with one hand and use a silly little brush with the other. The hoses block with hair and take ages to clear; the motor, combined with rotors, have scalped a rather nice rug and bits have kept jamming, breaking or falling off. I've been longing for a replacement from only a day or so after purchase, but there's always something more important on which to spend the money … so I've struggled with it and, frankly, have come to detest vacuuming! Not any more, thanks to George.
~ 8~ About George ~8~
My George is green; he is the latest version of cleaners bearing his name. Like his little brothers he's also available with a blue, red or yellow face. He's quite heavy, weighing in at 8.8 kg (19.4 lb), but the weight is well balanced and doesn't figure as a negative point. He arrived here carefully packed in a huge cardboard box, the only packaging that was not immediately recyclable was the plastic bag containing the small tools. George was ready to get to work straight away; he came with a plentiful supply of dust bags and a bottle of shampoo.
George's 1200 Watt motor is under his hat, held in place by a couple of sturdy clips it eases on and off effortlessly. This 'hat' section is lifted off by holding its' moulded, easy-to-grip handle and can be placed flat on the floor. The roomy body (face) will hold 15 litre (33lb) dry, 9 litres (approx 20lb) wet.
All parts of the machine seem to have been well designed for functionality as well as looks. There are separate, dedicated, flexible hoses that attach to George's nose for use when vacuuming or shampooing. Up to three stainless steel extension tubes, two straight and one curved, can be attached to either of these and are used for both wet and dry cleaning. Common sense means leaving these stainless steel tubes time to dry before using them to dry vacuum. The curved steel tube can be connected one way round if you're tall, the other way round if you're less so ~ clever idea! There's a nifty sliding arrangement on this curved pipe, push it in one direction to get 'full power' suction, turn it the other way and a little hole in the pipe is revealed, reducing to 70% suction … or you can just leave it open and put your thumb over the hole!
George has plenty of useful attachments for both wet and dry use; I've listed them at the end of the review for anybody who may be interested. I doubt I'll use them all, but there's certainly something for every task imaginable. All these push really easily onto the end of any section of rust resistant pipe, so it's easy to adjust the system to suit person preferences. There are no fancy knobs to turn, twist or jam into place and there doesn't seem to be anything to that may break off. There is a separate rocker switch for dry vacuuming and wet/shampooing functions, both are protected by a thick plastic cover.
George comes with a set of paper dustbags to hold the dust, debris and leaves he sucks up, they're simple to use, just push on/pull off … and they're roomy too. I haven't had to buy any yet, so I can't comment on how much replacements cost. George isn't marketed as a bagless vacuum cleaner although I know plenty of people who have done so without any apparent damage to the motor; this practice is not recommended by the manufacturer ~ which is why the opposition haven't noticed! So far he hasn't got blocked, although I've tried really hard by deliberately picking up sweet wrappers and leaves that have blown into the porch because the door has been left open. I'd previously had to use a brush and dustpan when this happens.
It is possible to buy special dustbags that make George suitable for use in homes of those with allergies.
I have checked to see how easy it would be to clear a blockage, and to try to work out where one might occur. The very flexible hose cannot be bent at right angles, not even if you try to tie it in a knot, so nothing can get stuck there. This hose enters the 'body' of the machine near the top and leads to a baffle that directs the dust and rubbish in the right direction. This part is easy to get at by taking off George's hat. If it should get blocked it would be easy to clear, no more turning the machine upside down and spending half an hour with a piece of bent wire just because I've vacuumed up too much hair or a leaf!
George's other benefit, for me, is the lovely long cable; offering, when combined with the hose and stainless steel tubes, a cleaning range of 26.8 metres (according to an online conversion that's almost 88 ft). This means I can vacuum all round our house, including up the stairs and into the bedrooms ~ our ceilings are an Edwardian 8ft 6ins (2.6m) high ~ without changing sockets, although I do have to do a clever flick to get the cable in the right place in relation to the banister. There is no cable recoil, so nothing can get jammed, simply loop the cable up and drop it onto George's head or hang it on the little hook to the side of his hat. It's all so easy.
George's wheels are sturdy and make him a remarkably stable machine; he doesn't topple if he gets pulled over his cable, a shallow step or a gravel drive for cleaning the car. Because George is a drum cleaner there are no external parts that do anything other than suck up the dust. He's safe to use when there are children around, no risk of their fingers getting caught beneath the spinning rollers, and fringes of precious rugs don't get torn to shreds!
~8~ Versatile George ~8~
Instructions for using George come in the form of a picture book; at first sight it's unusual but this format can be understood absolutely anywhere in the world and whatever your native tongue. I've found the instructions easy to follow.
George can be used to wash tiled floors, clean up wet spillages, dry out a floor or carpets if the washing machine springs a leak, or the worst happens and you have a burst pipe. George will even turn his hand to unblocking a sink if needed. Once converted to a 'wet' machine it's still possible to use the dry vacuum function, at the flick of a switch. It is also possible to use both at the same time, but I haven't needed to.
To change George from a dry vacuum cleaner to a wet shampooing machine is remarkably easy. Open his lid and remove the white 'dry' filter and take off the paper dustbag pop the 'wet' filter on top and fasten his hat back on. To shampoo it's easy to slot the doughnut-shaped liquid container into the body of the machine, make sure you've added the right amount of shampoo (according to manufacturer's recommendations), attach the 'wet' hose and its' brass connectors, slot on the wand attachment that regulates the flow and the stainless steel pipe(s). When you've done that just choose between a wide spray nozzle and the narrow one and away you go!
OK, yes, I'll admit it was a bit fiddly the first time, but it only takes a couple of minutes and is a lot quicker and easier than going to the hire shop and borrowing a grubby old machine that you then have to load into your car to take back afterwards. Imagine the savings, of both time and money, you will make over a few years.
~8~ Maintenance and reliability ~8~
George is designed to work hard and meet 'professional cleaning standards', he is meant to be capable of working long hours with no loss of quality. Tackling our home, no matter how mucky we may manage to make it, will be taken in his stride.
I don't think George is going to need much maintenance, apart from changing cleaning his dry filter, changing his dustbags and wiping his face clean with a damp cloth. I've asked others who have used these cleaners for years, nobody has ever had to do more than I've just mentioned; nothing has broken off and no parts have ever failed to do their proper job.
~8~ Price and availability ~8~
Our George was seriously reduced because the shop was closing down. He can be bought from many major electrical retailers both instore or online. Checking a price comparison website I have found prices from £148.95 to £219.99, so it's best to shop around.
~8~ Would I recommend him? ~8~
Of course I would, he's a super chap, I'd recommend him to anybody, I only wish I'd bought George a few years ago instead of falling for the hype of the 'latest fashion'. I think he's fantastic, he's become part of our home and even our teenage children are happy to use him.