Shop Vac Stopped Working? (4 Causes & 5 Solutions!)

Shop vac stopped working

Shop vacs are great investments and help you keep your workshops, construction sites, and homes clean. But it can be really frustrating when your shop vac suddenly stops working in the middle of the action. You can’t think of any reason for this and don’t know what to do.

We will discuss several reasons why your shop vac may have stopped working and guide you into identifying them. We will also explain the solutions to these problems so you can easily fix your shop vac.

Shop Vac Stopped Working (Causes & Solutions!)

There is a difference between shop vac entirely stopping to work and a shop vac shutting off continuously. First, let us look at the possible causes of shop vacs stopping to work. And, then we’ll see the solutions to these problems.

4 Resaons Why Your Shop Vac Stopped Working

Your shop vac could have stopped due to a faulty switch, bad connection, bad motor, faulty battery, or a faulty cord.

Let’s look at the causes in detail.

1- Bad Switch

If your shop vac is properly plugged into a functioning socket with the switch turned on, and still, it’s not responding, the switch could be faulty or damaged.

To be sure that the problem is coming from the switch, get a multimeter or any other continuity checker and check if the current is flowing through, and the motor is getting power.

You should check how to properly use a continuity checker before attempting to use one or get an expert to do it for you.

If you are doing it yourself, don’t forget to unplug your shop vac and ensure that it’s not connected to electricity at all.

2- Bad Connection

Sometimes what’s causing your shop vac not to work is something as simple as a faulty socket or tripped circuit breaker.

If your shop vac stops working, first ensure the problem is only peculiar to your shop vac. Is the household still receiving power from the local grid, and are the other household appliances working?

If they are, then check the circuit breaker that the socket you are using is connected to. If it is tripped, it could cause your shop vac to stop working.

You can try plugging your shop vac into another socket that is working well, if the shop vac turns on then it is clear that there’s something wrong with the socket you were previously using.

If your light flicker while using your vacuum, it can be an indication of a faulty circuit breaker or a loose connection

3- Faulty Motor

Most shop vacs stop working because the motor is damaged or faulty. There are lots of reasons why this can happen.

1- If your dust bag is full and you keep vacuuming, your motor could overheat and burn out or blow. There’s a thermal fuse inside that could burn and melt.

Thermal fuses do not last very long, especially if the motor is cheap. They are like fail-safes that prevent overheated motors from starting fires.

So when your motor overheats, the thermal fuse blows and stops the motor from working. This will immediately turn off your shop vac which won’t come on.

Thermal fuses are hard to replace, so if your shop vac motor is still under warranty, return it and get a new one.

2- Apart from a full bag, a clogged filter can also be responsible for overheating. If you notice a burning smell coming from your shop vac motor, that’s a dead giveaway.

You can also check the motor with a circuit checker to see if it’s getting power and in good condition. If you notice anything amiss, your motor is faulty.

4- Bad Battery or Cord


Have you checked the battery? Is it in good condition? If you use a battery-powered shop vac and have been using it for many years and the original factory battery is still inside, the battery may have gotten old. It could have stopped working.

If this is the case, your shop vac won’t work. So make sure to check the battery.


For most shop vacs that work by being plugged into a power outlet, the problem may be a result of a twisted cord or plug. The cord could also be torn or damaged.

Check your shop vac cord for any signs of wear or tear and also examine the plug. You may be surprised at what you find, especially if you have kids or pets.

Sometimes you can’t even see the damage, it’s internal. This happens when the electrical wires in the cord cut or break loose.

Often it’s a result of carelessness; pulling the shop vac and stretching the cord while vacuuming, jerking the cord to remove it from the socket, etc.

Electricity may no longer be transferred to your shop vac through the cord, and it won’t work when you turn it on.

5 Solutions for a Shop Vac That Stopped Working

1- Repair the Switch

When you test the switch on your unresponsive shop vac with a multimeter and discover current not flowing through, you need to change it. Most people will need a technician to do it.

If you would like to do it yourself, you should read up on your shop vac model and discover how it can be changed. New switches could however be expensive or scarce.

Dirt could also be obstructing the switch, causing it to malfunction or not respond.

So before changing your shop vac switch, remove and clean it. Also, clean the area from where you removed the switch. Then put it back and see if your shop vac will work when you press the switch.

2- Change the Motor

If a clogged filter or full bag is causing the motor not to work, then unclog the filter and empty your shop vac bag. Clean the shop vac, while paying attention to the motor and every tiny corner.

If it’s a burnt motor or the motor isn’t receiving current anymore then you have to change it. It can’t be repaired.

This can be sometimes expensive depending on the model of shop vac you are using. The price could be similar to that of a new vac.

You may even need to buy a new vac head since the motor alone may not be easily available.

Tip: Before buying a new vac, however, show your old shop vac to an. Many times, an expert may be able to implement minor fixes to the machinery and a new one may not be needed.

3- Change Your Socket

Check if the connection in your house hasn’t gone bad.

A wire somewhere could be faulty or burnt. If that is the case, changing that wire or repairing that connection will solve your problem. This is the first thing to check if your shop vac is new or you haven’t been using it for very long.

If your home connection is working fine, plug other appliances in the wall socket you are using. If they also don’t work, then you need to change the socket.

If it’s not faulty, check that the circuit breaker it is connected to hasn’t tripped.

If that’s the case, get it repaired or switched back on. You can do this by checking your house’s main electrical box to identify the tripped circuit.

CAUTION: Some of the repairs you need to do will involve electricity. If you aren't an expert don't do it yourself as it could be dangerous.

4- Replace the Cord

If you find evidence of wear on your cord, get a new one to replace the old one. Even if your shop vac had been working with the worn-out, stretched, or twisted cord before, still get a new cord because the wires inside may have cut.

5- Reset

Some shop vac models come with reset buttons. Sometimes the buttons aren’t seen on the outside. Check your shop vac manual to see if your vac has a reset button and where it is located.

When your shop vac stops working, press this reset button. Sometimes this corrects minor internal issues with your shop vac and brings it to life again.

Final Thoughts!

There are several reasons your shop vac may stop working and we have explained most of them to you. We have also given doable solutions based on the various different causes of this problem.

There are a few things you can also do to avoid this in the future. Clean your shop vac regularly as dust can obstruct the switch and keep it from working. You want to also avoid vacuuming with a full bag or dirty filter.

Also, avoid twisting and stretching your cord while vacuuming or anytime at all so the wires won’t get cut.

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