Kirby Vacuums - An Overview


Kirby is very different from the majority of companies that manufacture and market vacuum cleaners. In fact, many would say that the company is completely unique. In a world where customer service seems to have gone awry, Kirby still appears to take pride in who they are and what they do. Their "Home Care Systems" have been well known for reliability, quality and performance.  Manufacturing takes place in Cleveland, Ohio and Andrews, Texas and all home care systems are built in America.  But what exactly can their machines provide customers today...

Who is Kirby?
Kirby was founded by Jim Kirby, an incorrigible inventor that refused to give up his dream of making a living out of his ideas. He invented a number of products that are still manufactured today and was awarded over 200 patents in his lifetime, but the most famous of all of Kirby’s inventions was and still is his vacuum cleaning system. Although he had begun designing vacuum products in 1906, he did not begin to manufacture them until after World War I.
In 1925, Kirby introduced the Vacuette Electric to the world. It was an early version of the accessorized vacuum we see today, having a removable handle and a nozzle that could be used to access awkward places.  There have been many models introduced to the Kirby range over the years.

The Products
Unlike other vacuum manufacturers out there, Kirby only manufactures and sells one vacuum cleaner at a time. It is currently the Sentria System and has been since 2006. The Sentria System utilizes all of the latest technology and essentially incorporates two vacuums into the one package. The detachable elements ensure that it can be used as a handheld vacuum as well as an upright one, and there is also a mode to polish wooden floors as well – an all-in-one approach. You can also adjust the height of the vacuum as well to suit your own needs and prevent strain injuries.
Aside from the features listed above, this vacuum cleaner also has a headlight so that you can see where you are cleaning, TechDive so that you do not have to use much force to move the vacuum, and a HEPA 11 filtration system. 

Interested in a Kirby? Checkout Kirby parts, attachments, and vacuums on Amazon

The Features
Although it is not a feature of the Kirby vacuum cleaner itself, the fact that Kirby products are only available via house call reiterates the fact that the company is still proud of its customer services record.  The house call service is available in the USA and 26 other countries worldwide, including the UK, Australia, South Africa and Russia.
However, as one might expect, the Kirby vacuum cleaners are relatively expensive, costing potentially hundreds of dollars more than similar models that are manufactured at the moment. However, the argument for these vacuum cleaners lies in the extensive list of features.


Kirby Vacuum Cleaner Manuals
We have provided links to the most popular Kirby Vacuum Cleaner manuals here - the Sentria and the Sentria II:

Kirby Sentria Manual
Kirby Sentria II Manual




# Ann from KY 2020-01-23 20:02
I do have a Kirby. They are available online refurbished, craigslist, etc. I paid $75 for mine with all the attachments. It is a 2001. Works great. Some parts I really like about it and some I don't.
My favorite part is using the hose attachment. I used the hard floor head today and it did a great job. You don't have to fight the hose to pull it out, and the Kirby actually rolls behind me pretty well. I like to use the attachments to vacuum the deer head mounts, ceiling fans, etc.
I don't like the way it does an entrance rug. I can't seem to get the brush roll height right.
I will keep it since what can you buy for $75 that has HEPA and holds up?
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# Barry Anthony Chickini 2019-07-17 15:12
Buy a Kirby once in your life... that is it. You will never need another upright cleaner. The MIA1 tank of vacuums.
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+1 # Peter Bowman 2018-07-13 10:00
Owned my Kirby since ‘88. Still runs like new. Neighbors used to borrow it often. Got plenty of use. Pros:
Quieter than most.
XLNT pickup.
Bulletproof, well built.
Low dust emissions.
High rated (except price) by C. R. For above traits.
Easy to work on, adjust, fix.

Pricey (if bought new)
Heavy (older models)
Gotta buy thru salesman

Proper adjustment height & brush.
Change bag when half full.
CLEAN HAIR brush, roller, and motor OFTEN.
Check belt, change when needed.

Better machines? Only Filter Queen, to my knowledge. Don’t bother with plastic or bag less machines. You see them on the curb, every trash day, for good reason.

End of story.
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0 # Angelina 2018-07-12 17:01
Worse Company EVER!!! And the product is Awful!! They come in make it big presentation of how great a product it is. Completely freak you out thinking your clean house is filthy. Con you into buying a vacuum/Shampooer only to find out that it is more difficult than they made it look. Plus the shampooer part is just an overrated febreze. They tell you that you have 30 days to return when actually it is only 3. That is not even enough time to get over your initial shock that they put you through. DO NOT GET SCAMMED LIKE THE REST OF US!!
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0 # Angelina 2018-07-12 22:52
I"m just a vacuum fan, of sorts, so I don't have any real skin in the Kirby company's game, but they have a strong history of durability aka longevity....since 1910 or something like that, so how is their 'awful ' product still around? I'm bummed for you if you were misinformed ( scrupulous distributors are many in the Kirby world). Once you practice the changing of devices on a Kirby, it becomes easy. I bet putting on makeup and doing it well wasn't easy for you when you first tried it a couple times ...but as you practiced and got the hang of it, you got better. I've only had my Kirby for 3-4 months and I find it easy now....and so versatile. If they 'found dirt' in your house during the presentation, you might have had a 'filthy house'....which means whatever you were using before WASNT getting the job done. ( I know there ARE a few selling tricks involved too). You Weren't scammed.... its a great product. I hope you watch some online videos about your Kirby and come realize is a quality machine for removing unwanted dust/dirt/debris from your home. I did and like it a lot!
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0 # Peter Bowman 2018-07-12 18:31
Haha know what you mean. I bought one long ago super pricey and heavy but it did work well then recently found one thrown out and fixed it, now I have 2 good vacs both Gen 1 heavy but bulletproof and easy to fix. Then a salesman came, told him I had 2 & loved them, he still tried to sell newer model to me at 3K (3K???) when I can get a used one CL for $50! Dude stayed half the day working his schmooze but I was in sales and know all the tricks so it was hours of telling him, “Do you know the meaning of NO?” I just played it up and had fun w him he never really cleaned what he promised. He gave the impression if he didn’t make the sale they would ransom his family. He went away looking puzzled he didn’t make the sale. Funny how the company thinks this works well.
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0 # dan kollars 2018-03-10 02:15
i had a kirby gen 3 and it was nothing but problems, the on off switch broke, the bag install switch broke, the tranny went out. burnt up belts like crazy. hose broke. it cleaned ok when it worked but no better than my shark that i have now. i do miss the wider cleaning path but thats it.
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+1 # Melanie Wayland 2018-01-28 17:52
I bought my Kirby and all the attachments in 1991 from a door to door salesman, after I lost my used Kirby to someone else. I LOVE MY KIRBY!!!! Yes, it's heavy, BUT, it sucks up ALL the dirt and fine particles, the beater bar is fantastic, I can actually SEE the stuff jumping off the carpet, so I KNOW, it's being sucked up. The only thing I wish was different, was having to use bags. It would be nice to just empty s canister. One vacuum over a almost 30 year period, versus my sister, who has bought a new vacuum almost EVERY year or two in the same time period, really gives good testimony. If your going to throw out a company for one little thing, sorry. This is a great machine, and just maybe, your not using it right or putting it together right. Kudos to a great AMERICAN company!!
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0 # Count Vacula 2016-09-06 17:53
Greatly over priced for what you get and for many homes they make no sense. If you have acres of unobstructed wall to wall carpet, big carpeted hallways and lots of room between furnishings, then a Kirby can work very well. They are easy to push back and fourth and do a beautiful job of grooming carpet. But if you have a mix of carpet, area rugs and hard floors, Kirbys are too much work. Unlike the best uprights, you cannot simply move a switch to turn off the brush for hard floors. You have to stop the machine, bend over, lift a cover and turn a crank to disengage the belt. Nonsense. There is no spotting hose. If you want to do any hard floor or above the floor cleaning, the machine requires you to remove the nozzle and convert it to a "canister" configuration. They are heavy, the Tech Drive is failure prone and they do not meet the US HEPA filtration standard (Euro H-11 is 85% filtration, far below the US standard for HEPA). There are a lot better vacuums than this.
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# Robin 2018-05-01 10:20
What would those vac be? The ones that would be better than a Kirby, and please don’t mention Dyson.
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0 # Kelly 2018-06-25 20:58
good option Robin, I echo your question. Count Vacula.....how hard is it to literally bend over and detach the belt( the way you described )?? geez, its not hard. I"ve read a LOT of reviews and spoken to repair shops as well as Kirby enthusiasts, Techdrive failure seems RARE!!! Watched several videos on youtube by an engineer who did air particle count testing on a Kirby with HEPA bag, it literally improved the air quality with a used bag! that won me over
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+1 # Peter Bowman 2018-07-12 18:39
I think it depends on the quality of the bag and how well it seals. I am very sensitive to dust but don’t smell any when I run the Kirby.
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+1 # Oakleymike68@gmail.com 2015-05-13 23:56
I got my Kirby senta for free needed some talc i love it got all the tools to and it picks up more than my Dyson borrowed my friends before getting mine about three years ago
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0 # Rich G 2015-04-19 15:14
We purchased one just a couple of months ago.
Salesman and apprentice were courteous.
When we used the shampooer, it seemed that we had to use an extravagant amount of product; 2 average 9x12 rooms and now we need more shampoo.
After reading many of these revues, I am wondering... ours is supposed to be guaranteed forever.
If this is true, why do you sell replacement parts? it seems they should be GIVEN instead of sold.
Then there is the bag... never looking at the machine, before purchasing it;seems that the bag was on a demonstrator before being sold to us; it was full the first time we used it! on ONE 9 x 12 room.
How do we get in touch with the people who sold it to us; seeing as they will not answer the phone? There is voice-mail, but when we leave a message there is never a return call.
If Mr Kirby were still here; I am sure he would fix this situation! with a new bag and better explanation on shampooing.
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0 # Kelton 2018-07-12 22:57
Rich G bummed to hear the salespeople are ducking you, its not right. There is NO lifetime guarantee ....there's a 3 yr parts warranty and the labor is at the discretion of the Distributor and a lifetime REBUILD program for you if you are the original purchaser and pay the shipping( I was just talking with a vacuum store owner who was a Kirby salesman for 24 years). Like most companies, they sell, to make $, the products ( carpet shampoo) after the tester/teaser bottle amount that comes with your vacuum is used up. I just went on Amazon and bought a gallon as its much cheaper that way.
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0 # mike buero 2015-05-14 00:09
Got my Kirby vacuum cleaner for free about three years it needed some talc I used my friend before getting it I love it and got all the tools to it picks up more than my Dyson
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+1 # Carol 2015-04-18 10:31
My parents bought a Kirby c. 1964. I have had it now for over 20 years and it is still working fine. Never a repair.
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0 # Valerie 2014-08-17 11:26
Just bought the Sentria II and I\'m amazed at the amount of dirt it\'s pulled out of my carpet and upholstery. I am puzzled at the selling tactics this company takes to sell one of these since they work so well. We agreed to $2000 and then after the salesman left I did some research on line about the price and found out people were buying them from the inhome salesperson anywhere from $1200 to $2500. They are like used car salesman and you keep telling them you don\'t like the price and they keep going down. You have 3 days to cancel so I called the salesman and told him I was going to cancel if I didn\'t get a better price. Well, low and behold he came down to $1450. Feeling sorry for the elderly person who agrees to the $2000 and doesn\'t have acsess to the internet. We saved $550 overnight. Why don\'t they just start at a decent price in the first place? It was still way more then we would pay for a vacuum but I loved the way it pulled everything out of my mattress and carpet.
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+1 # Matthew Winter 2014-10-15 18:55
Its a matter of Cost, I know my personal cost for a machine is 1600, so if I sell it for less than that I actually make no Profit, It may still count for my bonuses as long as its over 1100, this is our livelyhood, its we feed ourselves and our families, ultimately all business is about profit. While it is our Job to Help make the Kirby affordable in order to not take food of your table, Why should you try to take food of our table?
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0 # Darlene 2014-07-22 12:13
We used our carpet cleaner last night and it turned out great. But we had trouble putting the head back on. After we got it on the wouldn\'t turn on. Help help
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0 # Matthew Winter 2014-10-15 18:52
You must not have the bag and or the head attached correctly, if the saftey switches are not engaged it wont turn on. The Head has to little \"feet\" on the bottom of it, pirch the feet on the bar under the fan, and the just clip it on. The Bag will catch before its on all the way, you need to push it past that point so it click into the saftey
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-1 # Don Elliott 2012-11-24 17:08
I find the Kirby to be excessively noisy, difficult to maneuver for bare floors, and very heavy. The salesman who came to our house used a smarmy trick in comparing to the sweeper we had. It would have worked in reverse just as well. I only bought this overpriced @#%& to please my wife. Had I had better sense I would have not bought it and saver a couple of thousand dollars. I am ashamed I was taken in.
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+1 # Kelly 2018-06-25 21:03
Don, wow, sorry to hear of your dislike of it. I am an owner of 2 Kirbys so I'm speaking from experience. I hope your opinion changed since your posting. Its louder than some vacuums because it has a bigger fan....ie it has more cfm and can greatly outperform most vacuums in pulling dirt deep in the carpets and even under them! a light throwaway vacuum ( Dyson/Shark etc) have some uses but the Kirby will easily outlast all others, is really versatile with the attachments and truly cleans your upholstery/carpet, many videos on youtube illustrate the failures of other vacuums when compared to Kirby's
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0 # Lynne Carmody 2012-10-07 21:57
The belt on our Kirby keeps breaking. We have only had it one year.Neither the company or the dealer seems to care that this is an ongoing problem. We live a 60 mile round trip away from our dealer and don\'t think that we should have to
pay for the servicing trip. The dealer says that he can\'t afford to make the trip our way. we are disappointed with the whole Kirby system, esp since we paid an incredible amount of money for the machine. We are thinking of abandoning it at the dealer\'s and have already reported him to the BBB
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+1 # Matthew Winter 2014-10-15 18:50
Often whens belts keep breaking like this its because you have the 7- level adjusment too low for your carpet pile and the friction causes the belt to break...To adjust the hieght of your Kirby start with the Height all the way up...and then move it down notch by notch until the sound changes..you will actually see the carpet lift up into the power head and then one more Click....any lower than that will burn out your belt
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0 # Peter Bowman 2018-07-12 18:50
Getting the height right is critical and the reason it cleans so well. There is also a brush height adjustment that can help, which I found reading the book.
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0 # Eldoris Gardner 2012-03-20 06:04
Did kirby vacuums invented the rainbow vacuums filtration system?
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0 # ryan 2009-06-18 12:32
yes and he sold the patent to the rainbow company and now they still make the pile.
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0 # misti brown 2012-03-20 05:56
I bought a used G6 and it is easy to push in nuetral but does not self-propel. I had a G4 years ago and I am almost certain I am putting the bag on right. The motor turns on and it vacuums, it just never gets easy to push. Like the power-drive feature does not work.

Thank you for your time.

Misti Brown
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+1 # Adrian 2012-02-26 09:55
I work for Kirby and i also am a proud owner of a Sentria. People talk about how expensive Kirbys are and blah blah blah...but Kirby is not the most expensive one out there. Rainbow Vac actually sell anywhere from $2000 to $3800 and all it is is a canister vac which was...get this...INVENTED BY JAMES KIRBY...Yep the same guy who invented Kirby Vacs. He sold the patent to the rainbow company
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-1 # Robert 2011-10-20 11:23
Don\'t purchase this vacuum from a salesman.
Saleman will try to charge you over $3000.
Buy online and you can get a refurbished or new one for less than a grand.

The salespeople are very pushy, deceptive. Check out wiki; it tells about all the lawsuits, rapes and other unforgivible offenses caused by those scum of the earth-also known as a Kirby salesman.
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+2 # korissa 2012-02-24 15:16
I just bought the Kirby sentria. I love it and the salesman was not pushy, disrespectful, or otherwise scum. He would be welcome back anytime. I got rid of my 8 mo old shark ghat replaced my Dyson because they just don\'t hold up. In the 6 years my husband and I have been together we have spent 800 on vacuums that just can not keep up with kids, pets, and the filth that follows.
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0 # Mark 2011-07-23 10:12
I started with a Kirby Classic in 1971 and upgraded to a G5 in 1997. I had the Classic refurbished for $69 and gave it to my daughter. When I had the G5 refurbished recently, they removed the metal impeller and replaced it with a plastic one. Then they told me that impellers are NOT covered items and they charged me extra! Recently, I looked over the $199 Shark that my son purchased. I cleaned my carpet with my Kirby then went over it with the Shark. An incredible amount of dust was missed by the Kirby. My son doesn\'t have to buy EXPENSIVE bags and belts for his machine. Since Kirby actually downgraded my machine by putting in a non-covered plastic impeller, I\'ve decided that my next vacuum will NOT be a Kirby. Technology has overcome the advantage of this big expensive vacuum cleaner.
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0 # Kelton 2018-07-12 23:10
Mark, that 'plastic' is really a Lexan type material, WAY stronger than plastic, you won't have to worry about it for another 20 years is the prevailing thought, so they didn't downgrade. Kirby's performance can be hampered, I"ve learned, by older looser belts, worn brush rollers, not setting the power nozzle at the right height & too full bags, maybe that contributed to it? Your son doesn't have to buy expensive bags, but DOES have to clean and replace 5-7 filters on that machine, tear it down WAY more often than owners ever do to CLEAN it, not to mention the problem of so many seals that can and do go bad. Its a yucky cleaning process....thats a high maintenance machine.
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-1 # Dave 2011-07-12 04:36
I sold Kirbys for about three weeks. I quit selling them because I did not like the way the were doing business and pushing their sales.

HOWEVER,the Kirby is an amazing product and I still believe in it 100%. Dont buy one from a salesman though, it is way overpriced if you do that. Look for them on eBay or a reseller.
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0 # Sharon 2012-06-28 16:50
i have been in sales with kirby for almost a year its a great job and im not pushy not all of us are and yes you can buy from places like ebay but those do not come with the warrenty that last a life time and you never no if the machine you bought from ebay flea markets ect...
may have been stolen
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0 # Bill 2011-07-11 13:54
In the early 80s, we bought a Kirby. I don\'t remember the model#, but it was a heavy beast. Worked flawlessly. The weight I think helped it really get into the carpet. It did not have drive wheels on it that I remember. After nearly 20 years, we had to get rid of it in favor of the much lighter Oreck. It was still vacuuming quite well as I remember.

It really was a great machine. The only things we did not like about the Kirby were (1) the weight - got to where we could not lift it up and down the stairs anymore; (2) The rubber drive belts were difficult to remove/install; (3) The headlights, while great, burned out way too often for the cost. (4) The cost. They are very proud of their machines...
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+2 # Liz 2011-07-07 11:15
Best vacuum ever!!! I never thought my husband would even consider spending the money for a Kirby. One of the best items we\'ve ever purchased.Cleans like a dream. If anything ever goes wrong I can have it completely rebuilt for less then a new crappy vacuum, $175. Worth every penny!
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+1 # Pam 2011-06-14 18:34
Love my Kirby G3 which I purchased in 1990. I\'d love to have it refurbished.
Didn\'t know that that the warranty would cover it for life. Thanks for the information. So glad that I happened onto this site and learned this.
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0 # Lyssa 2011-05-06 14:14
I bought the diamond kirby in 2006 and although it does its job there are a few features as to why I sold it. First the attachments are a little complicated and takes a lot longer to actually clean places with the attachments. Had the shampooer attachment hated it, I did more dumping then cleaning. Also the vaccum is quite heavy and bulky. It does a good job of cleaning but its just not fast and easy to use.
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+1 # Brenda 2011-03-13 19:03
I bought a new Kirby G5 in 1994. It is just starting to have some troubles. I read on this website that I can send it somewhere to get it fixed. I\'d be delighted to know where I can send it. Thanks!
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0 # Sam 2011-03-22 17:04
Brenda, call Kirby\'s Rebuild Department at 216-433-7797, or email them at

That is, assuming that you\'re the original purchaser. So long as you are, they\'ll help you arrange a complete rebuild of your G5 for $175. When they\'re done with it, you\'ll get back your G5 looking exactly the way it did the day you bought it.
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0 # Sara 2011-04-03 22:35
I\'d love to have my Kirby refurbished--it\'s beginning to need a few minor tune-up touches after 14 years of use. However, after all these years, I\'m not sure how we could prove proof of purchase. Is there a record somewhere within the company?
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+1 # Michelle 2011-08-31 06:10
If you are the original purchaser, you have your serial number registered with Kirby and they will have that on file. There\'s a reason Kirbys, like Rolexes, are registered. Call the number and you can find out.
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+1 # Linda 2010-06-08 13:33
I purchased my Kirby used over 25 years ago and it\'s just starting to need some real attention. The thing that I like the most about it is that it\'s not plastic.
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0 # jeff 2010-02-13 07:48
Used to have a Kirby. Sales people in Canada very pushy, even dishonest. My wife had to threaten to call the cops on them when they would not leave.
Since the vac broke, we tossed it and the company out with it.
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+2 # Peter Bowman 2015-12-10 01:02
too bad. bought one from a somewhat "pushy (aggressive" guy in '88, cost over 1 K. Still like new today. All neighbors borrow it & won't leave me alone. Easily fixed and maintained. Never serviced or broken. Smokes any other vacs by a landslide on cleaning performance. Made to last forever! (you can get good deals on used ones on Craiglist)
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+2 # Raymond / West Texas 2009-12-27 07:24
The Kirby vacuus was the first signicant purchase that my wife and I made, the year was 1968, when we set up house in San Diego. Since then the unit has performed dependably. Although the unit has beem repaired from time-to-time, due to normal wear-and-tear type use, this is certainly to be expected! The thing about it is that the Kirby was a tremendous tool in 1968 and it is just as good today (although it isn\'t as shiny as when it was new). I will always go with equipment which is dependable and repairable!!! You can take that to the bank :). Raymond
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0 # james 2009-12-17 10:29
I have a friend that has one and I\'m surprised on how expensive his vacuum was when I have a dyson that isnt self propelled but picks up the same amount of dirt and dust. and he spent hundreds more than I did. Not saying its a bad vacuum just saying there are vacuums out there that are way cheaper that do just as good of job.
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+1 # Kathy 2011-12-19 20:27
I think some of the testimonies in this forum will show that since one vacuum cleaner can last 15, 20 or even 40 years... divide its price over that many years to find your annual cost. I know a lot of people buy cheaper ones but have to replace it every 5 years or less. So do the math!
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0 # Jaime 2009-12-03 14:43
Looking for a reset button a kirby I just borrowed from my brother I believe it may be a G5
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0 # John Waas 2009-11-01 09:00
Misti if you are having a problem with your unit there are service center located around the world, and they are very fair priced. However since you purchased the unit used you do not have the Lifetime Rebuild/Replace warranty available to it.

I would recommend you check out a new unit directly from us (Google Kirby and set up a demo). If you purchase a Kirby new it will last past your lifetime and if in 4, 5, 15, or 20 years it is scuffed, scratched, dinged, or just needs some work you can send it in to the company with $175 and they will rebuild it and it will come back to you as new as the day it was purchased.

I hope this helps you!

John the KIRBY Guy!
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0 # Stacey Rentfrow 2011-10-12 19:10
Unless you hold onto your original purchase information you are kind of out of luck with the whole \"REBUILD\" option. I purchased mine in 1996, and after a minimum of 12 moves, a divorce, etc. I have no idea where any of this is, so sorry CHARLIE is basically what I was told by a women in the parts department at Kirby! and after receiving my rebuild documentation, it\'s on there to in big black letters. SO...for a vacuum I love and have had for 15 years, I guess it\'s bye bye!
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About Me


I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer originally from the west coast of Canada.  I love to review vacuums and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I make every effort to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide average consumer ratings for each and every vacuum cleaner I investigate.  My ultimate goal is to ensure you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.