Advantages Great for light staining and more hygienic than traditional methods, other tools. Lighter than mos
Disadvantages Almost useless on carpet, leaves streaks, small tank, online purchase only.
|Value for money|
|How much did you pay?||£64-99 in 2007.|
|Special features?||Small size, some good design, leaves hard floors clean.|
In the days before I owned my Bissell upright carpet washer and my Hometek steam mops, I got around cleaning carpets by using the 1980's Vax canister my parents bought and passed to me when it got too heavy for them to cope with. I loved my old canister for vacuuming and anything to do with dry dirt collection BUT carpet washing was a real strain on my back despite it's power control and about ten different attachments to do normal vacuuming or carpet and floor washing. The problem is that whilst the Vax canister is getting on a bit, and it is a model you can still buy today in 2012, it’s a monster of a machine weighing in at nearly 9kg with everything added. I’m sure if you’ve used a canister 3 in 1 vacuum before you’ll be no stranger to the weight and bulkiness old tubs like the old Vax design command. And lordy by the time it takes to set everything up, it’s a wonder you haven’t keeled over for the amount of time you’ll need to put your back out stretching and pulling the hose along the floor whilst the Vax gets to work on stubborn stains!
• Power: 550 watt wet and dry designed upright/600 watt dry.
• 1.5 litre/ 6.3 cups tank – double fill.
• 7.5 metre power cord, with quick release tidy hooks.
• 6.1kg / 13.5lbs total weight without water solution.
• Standard retail price £99 to £129.99.
• Comes with 1 bottle of AAA carpet shampoo (1 litre) & 1 bottle of Multi floor cleaner, (1 litre), additional hard floor squeegee attachment.
• Thermal cut out reset button and power button both rubber protected.
• Moving brush roll on/off switch.
• Can also be used as a light suction bagless dry vacuum before wet shampoo commences.
• Similar models: V-029/V029/V029Q. Also goes under the name "V029 Rapide TotalFloors.”
• Price in 2007: £64.99 from eBay seller; reconditioned model. Price in 2012, £45 to £80 online.
When my parents got their new flooring put in 2006, which included the marble tiles in their bigger bathroom and a wooden floor in another room, my mum went out and bought a JML mop from Woolworths and after two breakages on two replacement mops at the same design fault, the mops were duly returned. Cleaning with the Vax was fine on carpet but on hard floors, it was difficult because at the time, Vax didn’t produce a hard floor tool making the whole exercise of returning to a traditional mop and bucket, more time consuming and more pressure on my back. What the Vax Rapide V0-27 model does however is minimise bulk from older designed machines, has a bit more power and can tackle both hard flooring and carpet, all wrapped up in a more compact upright design. The Rapide V0-29/Q model however has brushes built in permanently and this was one of the considerations I was looking for as well as it being smaller and more compact than the current Vax models on offer.
The handle swings down and up easily with only a slight stop on the central rear pedal before realising that it will not lie flat like an upright dry dirt vacuum cleaner. I'm glad in a way however that Vax have resorted to the older principle of just fitting a handle release and handle which will lower and heighten itself to the requirement of the owner; many upright vacuums these days have a thick motor hinge in the middle which restricts owner's heights.
Briefly and generally the V0-29 is well marked out although there is a lot of wording and labelling on the machine itself. Three main pedals/switches on the Rapide control the nozzle setting from wet to dry vacuuming, a brush on/off function and the main power button, rubberised just like our old Vax to suggest protection from wet hands. A looped handle with a blue trigger button ensures less hand fatigue as well as better controlled steering in use.
These floor heads however are very easy to install onto the Rapide and unlike the current plastic on my Bissell carpet washer, the plastics on the Vax Vo-29 are thick and reasonably well made. It only takes seconds to twist the lock (orange) before the main water channel pipe (a clear hose so you can see blockages) at the front of the floor head to fit the optional tools into place. The hard floor head is a light blue colour whereas the carpet floor head is clear acrylic but both state clearly what they are for by written decals. Both heads however are easy to clean because a tap can be pushed down the main channels and literally the flow of water washes out the dirt.The main water tank is a long blue acrylic bin that is double walled. Inside it sits the main dirt filter and a white plastic see through grid.
However, by releasing the tank at the front (via orange lock just like many bagless cyclonic upright vacuum cleaners) an inner filter is revealed as well as an opened out plastic filter carrier which actually doesn't hold anything other than dirt in use. Here is where you DON'T fill it with water but insert and drop in the carrier and paper filter top back into the tank and align the arrows, whereupon similarly when emptying dirty water you just lift the top off and the tank can be emptied out. So where does the clean solution aided water go? At the back of the bin there is an orange screw top where once it is undone you can measure the solution in the cap and pour it into the backing. At first I didn't think there were any holes here and I couldn't imagine pouring water down the same small measuring spot at the back. 40°C is the maximum temperature of hot water that the Rapide can take so in this instance I used hot tap water as opposed to boiling hot water. Poured into a small water jug (which Vax could well enclose to make filling easier) there are markings fore and aft on the tank which show where the maximum amount of clean water and soap mix can reach.Sure enough by pouring into the screw cap fixing, water appeared to flow down into the secondary wall of the tank; it is a pity that Vax do not show this in their user manual as the owner could well be as puzzled I was initially. Once the water has been filled and the tank installed (just like a bagless bin on uprights the bin is easier to install if the bottom of it meets the holder and swung into place and locked) the Rapide can be used. If you put in too much water, the Vax's cyclonic action in the water raises the white plastic grid to the top and switches the Rapide off automatically as opposed to standard motor burn out/thermal protection.
The time it takes to set up old Vax canister? Around 8 to 10 minutes to install and fit everything together including the floor head. The time it takes to set up Vax Rapide? 5 minutes if you have never done it before, 2 minutes thereafter.
In use on hard floors, the cleaning solution is spread over the floor from under the Rapide and the two soft rubberised wheels ensure marking is kept to a minimum. Streaking is not evident unless you have unlevel floors. There are only two wheels at the back of the cleaner to aid movement, and are rubberised to protect flooring and in use although the floor is wet the Rapide tends to slide around until the water is sucked up. On hard flooring the soft brush roll comes into its own even if it is only to add agitation. But the Rapide is generally fast over light staining on hard flooring; particularly when once the trigger is not squeezed the Rapide will suck up all the dirty water through its removable floor head and is totally viewable in action. Here is where extra noise occurs; not from the motor but from the squeegee which starts to howl and squeal over the floor surface. Once it does this, the floor is dry! Not only that but when the floor is becoming dry, the wheels at the back give the owner a second opinion by gripping the hard floor surface where previously the wheels slid about easily in the cleaning solution.
When the Rapide is switched on, it is possible to start washing the floor automatically although the solution in the tank only emerges once the blue trigger on the white handle loop is squeezed; I thought I was going mad waiting for the solution to emerge until I realised the trigger has to be squeezed!!
In terms of light staining such as recent liquid drink spills, the Rapide is excellent at pick up. However with only 550/600 watts of power, there is not sufficient pull where stubborn or old stains prevail on the floor despite the moving brush roll. I found I had to go over and over stubborn stains against Vax's claim here but luckily in use the weight of the cleaner is lighter than when carried and moving the machine to and fro can be done by a couple of fingers on the handle as opposed to a whole hand. As a result I'm happier to move the machine back and forth on old stains than a manual mop/wet broom and my back isn’t painful at all!One very handy aspect over our old Vax canister though is the fact that when all the solution has been used up (the trigger controls the flow so you can keep some back for the next task) the Rapide rises in motor pitch sound to let the owner know that the solution and water has run out.
For carpet use, cleaning isn’t as good because the roller brush hasn’t got springs to adjust to thickness and streaking will occur, sadly. Thus, you get a good top surface cleaning performance, but deep down stains don’t lift up very easily unless you spend hours going over the same spot and in danger of over-wetting the carpet pile and continually injecting shampoo into the stain. Even though the floor head has a thick plastic agitator line similar to our old Vax canister the difference here is the extra promise of agitation from the permanent brush roll that should be able to remove deep down dirt. Vax have given the brushes a different colour rather like a rainbow to the bristles, even if it is only for effect and there's even a small screen in the middle so that the owner can see the state of the brushes in use. But for all that Vax have glorified it, there’s a reason to why Vax originally sold this as a hard floor wet upright and the brushes on board can only cope with light stains. The brush rolls but it doesn’t scrub carpet pile very well and stubborn stains are harder to break down from carpets, thus requiring a lot more time compared to washing hard floors. Edge channels on both floor heads also mean that edge brushing and washing is also available on skirting boards and close edges.Manoeuvring and handling the Rapide is wonderful though. At 6.1 kg the Rapide isn't the lightest wash vacuum I have tried but the general softness of the plastic as well as the LG/Oreck style helping handle means that hand fatigue is reduced and at some points I found pushing and pulling the Rapide back could be done just using a pinch of two fingers on the handle and mimics a light use similar to our Sebo upright. I would never be able to have done this with our old Vax canister!! As soon as the Rapide sucks up the water and leaves the floor dry, the wheels start to regain their grippy texture that maximises steering. Carrying the Rapide is also easier to lift from the handle at the rear of the machine rather than from the handle at the top; the main floor head though is large so it is useless for cleaning carpeted or hard floor stairs. At least the 7-metre power cord is long which means transferring from room to room doesn't pose a problem. Carrying it is not something I recommend, it can be tipped on its rear wheels and wheeled back to storage after use though like many upright vacuums.
Emptying is as easy as installing. Unlock the tank, carry to the sink, lift the filter cartridge out (the only part which unlocks is the inner dry dirt collecting filter) and empty out the dirty water into the sink. I always get rid of solution in the tank too although it is possible to leave the soapy solution in the inner walled tank of the same bin for the next time you use it.Surprisingly, the motor noise isn't as quiet as I thought it would be and the machine can get noisier through use. This is because of the audible warning when the tank has emptied, or if the tank needs to be emptied. Then you'll also have to put up with increased noise with the constant squawking and squealing of the squeegee floor head on hard floors, providing the feeling that the general noise in use can get too much if used for a prolonged time.
Secondly, the Rapide gets difficult to push when either floor heads have completely sucked up all water and solution. The Rapide can only wash sealed hard flooring as opposed to unsealed and it cannot use wax-based shampoo either.Thirdly, what a great pity there is no additional hose to aid above the floor cleaning or for cleaning upholstery. Like many things in life this is a compact upright that is designed for small homes and larger models in the Vax range (and probably more expensive) have a smaller hose with small tools to deal with fabrics and upholstery.
Fourthly the agitator brush screen cannot be removed to aid cleaning after tasks have been done and it is additionally moved by a drive belt that can be ordered from Vax if it breaks. Although it looks if the screen can be prised open using a blunt knife it doesn’t have thick points on it that look as if the screen can be put back. Able fingers or a paintbrush can be inserted into the brush roll itself to remove any viewable dirt that gets on the screen – and if used regularly – a lot of dirt does accumulate there.Lastly apart from no longer on sale on the high street, hard floors take longer to dry with this wet application vacuum. Although the Rapide V0 29 excels are sucking up the water from its squeegee floor head, it can leave very clean hard floors damp and may require up to half an hour until the floor dries up completely. This is where; by now in 2012 dry steam mops are better and faster when it comes to washing hard floors.
Whilst two bottles of different cleaning solution came with this cleaner, the retail price for each bottle is priced individually between £12-99 and £16-99 available from Argos, Vax themselves (online), eBay and on the high street at several different supermarkets and domestic companies such as Comet, Currys, Miller Bros and John Lewis for the 750ml version against the bigger 1 litre bottles. The AAA shampoo is massively over priced and Vax stopped production of the hard floor cleaning solution in 2009, restricting owners to use the shampoo solution instead for hard floors.Whilst both solutions are great and adhere to what they deliver in terms of shampoo action and cleaning, I've changed the solution brand to 1001 3 in 1 shampoo which like Vax products does a similar job, low foaming, leaves a lovely smell and is also approved by Woolsafe carpets. Price per 500ml or 1 litre bottle; a mere £1! Alternatively I have also used 151 Elbow Degreaser or vinegar and water mixed with lemon juice – after all they’re not going to harm the machine and the cleaning principle works quite well, dependent on the parts of vinegar and lemon juice you add to the part of water!
The Rapide does very little wrong other than the fact that if it had a larger tank and more power/suction, it could replace two machines in one but then I think the weight would be heavier as a result too. Once you’ve mastered the assembly and setting up the wet vac to use, it is a breeze to use and doesn’t involve stooping or sore backs when the cleaning is over and done with. It does replace the traditional dirty mop and a bucket on hard floors alone and with considerable ease as well as being far more hygienic, the only downside compared to the far more modern steam mop is that floors can take longer to dry out. But, when it takes up little more space than a standard large upright vacuum cleaner with no hoses to worry about, and cheaper online prices, the size is a bonus BUT it is not powerful enough to cope with heavy stains and the below par performance on carpet with streaks and tracks left over won't be suitable for homes that have carpets galore and a small room with a bit of hard floor - rather however, the other way around. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2012.
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