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Red, green, flashing: What do my Shark vacuum’s lights mean?

Shark vacuums are durable and efficient titans of cleanliness. Built to handle most floors, nooks, crannies, and other parts of your home or business, Shark vacs are plenty powerful, include a number of convenient attachments, are available in a number of shapes and sizes, and are beyond easy to operate.

Once in a while, though, your Shark vac may start acting a little funny. Maybe it’s not picking up dirt the way it normally does, or perhaps it’s making a high-pitched noise when powered on.

Not to worry: Your Shark vacuum is equipped with an onboard diagnostic tool that may already be shedding some literal light on what issue your vac is experiencing.

Your Shark vacuum has a health monitor

Woman using the Shark NV752 to vacuum under furniture.

If you’re using a traditional Shark vacuum (upright or cordless), you’ll find a handy LED indicator light somewhere on the main vacuum head. While the exact location of this indicator varies by model, it shouldn’t be too hard to locate.

Think of this light as a health monitor for your Shark vacuum. Sure, you don’t need to be a trained physician or vacuum repair pro to understand what these different lights mean, but if you’ve noticed your Shark vac hasn’t been functioning properly of late, there’s a good chance that LED light is going to be lit or flashing a certain color.

Let’s unpack what all of these different LED light colors mean and how to deal with whatever issue the indicator is pointing toward.

A solid red light

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed (NV681)
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Have you noticed that your Shark vac isn’t picking up dirt and crumbs as efficiently? If this has been an ongoing issue for at least a few cleaning cycles, there’s a good chance your vacuum’s LED indicator is a solid red color. Typically, this refers to one or two different maladies.

Most of the time, a solid red light means there’s something wrong with your vacuum’s main brush roll, meaning the brush isn’t spinning correctly. In many cases, a bogged-down brush roll simply won’t spin at all. The problem could be occurring because it’s jammed up with hair, loose string, plastic bag bits, or some other kind of binding obstacle.

To address these lassoing foes, go ahead and unplug your Shark vac from whatever power outlet you’re connected to (if it’s a corded model), then flip the vacuum over to expose the bottom of the vacuum head. If you can manage to remove whatever stringy pests are binding up the brush roll with your fingers, this may be all that’s needed. Sometimes, though, it’s easier to just chop or slice away at hairs and string with a pair of scissors or a utility knife.

Once you’ve eliminated the buildup, flip the vac back over, reconnect to power, and give it a spin. If the LED isn’t red anymore and your brush roll seems to be spinning normally, you’ve solved the problem.

A flashing red light

The Shark Rocket Cordless Stick Vacuum.

On many Shark vacuums, that same red light may flash intermittently instead of remaining solid. While this could be an indication that the brush roll is jammed up, a flashing red light usually means that your Shark vac is overheating. This issue is often caused by a compromised brush roll or some other kind of blockage on the vacuum.

An overheated vacuum is a major cause of motor burnout, so you’ll want to get to the bottom of things quickly. Fortunately, Shark vacuums have a temperature sensor that will automatically kill power to the vac if the operating temperature gets too toasty.

Oftentimes, an overheated vac will also sound different. If your Shark is emitting some strained higher frequencies (the kind of noise that hurts your ears), there’s a good chance it’s clogged and on its way to overheating.

Here’s how to fix it: Disconnect your Shark vac from the wall outlet and give it about 30 minutes to an hour to physically cool down. After you give the vac its much-needed break, the first thing we recommend is flipping it over and checking the brush roll for any hairs or string. If everything seems OK, there might be a blockage somewhere else.

Disconnect all hoses and attachments to check for any buildups. Clean as needed, empty the dust tank, and check your vacuum’s filters, too. Once you’ve serviced all the parts, reattach all the peripherals and reconnect the Shark vac for power (if needed). If you’ve fired it up and the flashing red light is gone, you’ve thwarted another trouble.

Flashing headlights

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed (NV681)
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

A number of Shark vacuums have LED headlights on the front of the vacuum head. These work lamps make it easier to see dirt and dust that hides away in the nooks and crannies of your home, but they also function as a secondary health indicator.

If your Shark’s LED headlights are flashing, nine times out of 10 it means that your brush roll is clogged up. Follow the above steps (under the “solid red light” section) to get that brush roll spinning the way it should once more.

A solid green light

Green means go, right? Well, pretty much.

If your Shark’s LED indicator is lit up solid green, this is just to say that the brush roll, motor, and other vacuum components are all operating correctly.

Need some more assistance with your Shark vacuum? Check out our Shark vacuum troubleshooting and repair guide, covering every type of vacuum that Shark makes — including robotic models!

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