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Our much loved Vax upright vacuum had unfortunately passed away last week, no fault of its own as there was a slight stair falling incident that made it unusable. We were fed up of using an upright cleaner in all honesty and that good old ‘accidental dropping down the stairs’ trick definitely came in handy resulting in us now owning a lovely and shiny Henry in the household. Our idea was to buy something rugged with good suction power without a huge price tag, this was obviously a Henry vacuum and we picked this little beauty up in Homebase for a rather reasonable £99 which seems to be cheaper than all of the other shops that we also checked in the area. We have owned a few of these cleaners in the past so we knew they were good, however I’m sure that we paid a little less than the prices we viewed last week on similar models from not so long ago – inflation!
*** About the Henry vacuum ***
The Henry vacuum is a very basic cleaner that basically, works! From reading on Wikipedia I discovered that the Henry is manufactured by a company called ‘Numatic’, in Chard, Somerset in England which makes me feel proud of myself for buying a UK product, which is rare these days. Apparently over 7 million of these cleaners have been sold since 1981, all over the world which shows the success of the company and the product.
The Henry vacuum is very basic, it’s basically a tub with a 1200 Watt motor on top and they are separated by a large filter. Inside the tub is a cloth bag that is not reusable but reusable types can be purchased from eBay at very reasonable costs. From memory, we used to use our old Henry vacuum without a dust bag installed but I cannot see any recommendation of this in the instruction booklet that came with our new model. The cleaner has a long hose with sturdy metal tubes and a good quality floor nozzle for reliable cleaning, everything is strong and robust on the Henry and it’s been that way since the early models.
*** Opening the box and setting up ***
Luckily, the Henry vacuum is very simple and setting him up ready for the first cleaning was easy. The box was not too large and it fitted in our boot without any issues, inside we found;
Pictures of Numatic Henry HVR200
Numatic HVR 200 Henry
unit (Henry) The hose A floor tool Various small attachments 3 x spare dust bags (And an extra one already installed in the machine) And of course, the instruction manual.The dust bag was already inserted in the machine and all we had to do was, screw the hose on (Henry’s nose), pop the metal tubes together and attach the floor nozzle and he was good to go. Henry’s lead is stored in his hat and this is easily removed by pulling on the plug, we noticed how long the lead was straight away as we kept pulling, pulling and pulling until we were at the other end of the house. We plugged him in and flicked the on switch ready for cleaning.
We did have a quick flick through the instruction manual before the first clean, this was totally unnecessary as the cleaner is so simple to use. There are hardly any words in the manual however all actions are clearly shown in coloured images with arrows and short words here and there.
*** Cleaning with Henry ***
The first thing that is noticed when turning on the new style Henry vacuum cleaner is the very quiet motor and the rather large suction. Our Henry has an eco-mode which works automatically, basically the Henry has two motor speeds – High and low, the vacuum always starts on the low power setting which provides excellent suction and low noise, if the low power is not enough for you cleaning task then you can flick the high button and the motor will go to full speed with excellent suction power without too much of a noise increase, even on high power the Henry is very quiet. We started our cleaning by keeping Henry on the low power setting as it was obvious that there was plenty of suction for picking up dirt from our medium pile carpets.
The cleaner is rather easy to push over our carpets on the low setting; we do struggle slightly while using the high power setting so we save that for the hard floors and our low pile mats. The cleaner effortlessly picks up pet hair, sand, bird seed and other nasty’s that are dragged into our household with many pets and humans entering and exiting all day long. Most of the dirt is picked up in one pass but on stubborn hairs a few scrubs are needed to pick the mess up but Henry always gets it in the end! The hose being long allows easy cleaning and the cleaner effortlessly moves around the house with light tugs, we have noticed on a few occasions that Henry gets stuck at some corners resulting in us tugging hard on the hose and him coming flying around the corner in an upside down position, I’m not sure if this is a common problem or not – maybe it’s just our corners and door frames that get Henry flipping.
The Henry comes with basic small tools to help with cleaning stairs, upholstery etc. There is a stair cleaning tool with a clip on scrubbing brush, a dusting brush, a crevice tool and a small adaptor for using the tools with Henry’s black hose without the metal extensions fitted. All of the tools feel of a rather good quality and they are very sturdy without any bits to snap off like some brands. We have used all of the tools and they work fabulously even though they are basic, our only slight issue with these is that there is no place to store these tools on the machine – there is a small clip on the back which can hold one tool of the users choice but this is not always enough for an average cleaning session and we have already lost one tool in under a week due to the lack of storage, not ideal.
The suction is absolutely immense and in all honesty, it seems to be the strongest sucking vacuum that we have ever owned. The suction is great using all of the tools and the low power setting is often creates enough suction for all tasks around the house whilst saving energy that would have once been wasted.
*** General design and ease of use ***
The Henry is generally well designed but in my opinion, there are a few small problems that I reckon should be sorted to make the unit easier to use. The hose is long, which is fabulous but then there is the storage problem. Most cylinder vacuum cleaners have a hook to hold the cleaner head and hose up during storage, the Henry does not and he also does not have telescopic wand so every piece of the Henry needs to be disassembled to allow easy storage – otherwise he ends up in a bit of a mess.
The main problem is the tool storage; the Henry only has one small clip for holding tools which allows the user to pick one tool of their choice to be carried around on the machine. Sometimes, one tool is not enough and we have encountered this problem already and it is annoying having to search the house to find the tool that you need to finish the job. Not only is this annoying but it seems slight daft to me, after many years of manufacturing these cleaners – why have they not designed a tool holder of some description?
Apart from those small problems, I find the vacuum easy to use and it is certainly very durable. The Henry vacuum can take a battering and it is very strong all round, this is probably why you see a lot of these cleaners being used in semi commercial properties – walking through Swansea Town in the afternoon I see loads of these smiling vacuums in shops which shows just how popular they are.
*** Maintenance and emptying the Henry ***
The Henry is virtually maintenance free apart from having to empty him every once in a while. The dust bags are rather huge with a capacity of 9 litres and they are very reasonable in cost. We picked up a pack of 10 bags from Homebase for £8.19 but I’m sure that you could get them cheaper if you search around. Henry bags really do last a very long time and from our past machines with daily use we were replacing the bags once a month and they probably could have gone on for longer. The main reason for changing bags is mainly the smell, unfortunately the design of the vacuum without having odour filters in this model guarantees that there’s a slight doggy smell that lingers around the machine after a two week vacuuming on the same bag. Other than that, the cleaner maintains its suction very well allowing a bag to be filled right to the top without losing too much of its performance. The bag is easy to remove unless it is very full and it can get heavy!
The very large filter that is contained inside the tub is very easy to clean, I simply bash it against a wall outside when the time comes to empty the bag. I believe that this can be washed every now and then but we just remove the dust and spray some Febreeze on it to keep the cleaner smelling fresh.
*** Overall opinion ***
I believe that this vacuum is probably one of the best bagged cleaners that you can get in the price range apart from a few annoying little design problems. It sucks extremely well and it seems quite economical in use, it hardly ever needs emptying and the machine is very rugged with great looks. I highly recommend this vacuum and it gets 4 stars from me.