Steam Mop Not Steaming: How to Fix it if Blocked

My steam mop is not producing steam, what could be wrong? There are many things that can cause your steam cleaner to stop working, but before you throw it away, you should know that most of the problems can be fixed and I am going to show you how.

The most common reasons for a steam mop not steaming are blockage and pressure leakage. To fix steam blockage problems, put vinegar in the tank overnight and try steaming with it. If this does not work, use a descaling pin to dislodge any mineral deposits that are blocking the steam.

Also, check if there’s water in the tank, and ensure that all the caps are working properly.

When mineral deposits are causing a blockage, you’ll need a decalcifying agent such as CLR, Lime-A-Way or white vinegar.

Most people have white vinegar around so try this first. CLR is really potent and works great for this job so grab some of this if you don’t already have some white vinegar or if white vinegar doesn’t work. I found a great deal for CLR on Amazon check it out here.

CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, 28 fl oz
  • Patented calcium, lime, and rust Remover for...
  • Powerful non-toxic formulation effective on...
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Common Problems with Steam Mops

Before you jump to the conclusion that your Shark or Vax steam mop has a malfunction, it is important to troubleshoot at home. I have come across so many problems when using steam mops over the years and I am going to share and hopefully point you in the right direction.

1. Blocked Nozzle

Most manufacturers recommend that you use boiled or distilled water in the steam cleaner. The consequence of not following this instruction is usually a blocked nozzle. When hard water heats up, calcium is usually released. The pressure moves it around making it build up and clog the jets that steam shoots through.

If you use hard water for steam mopping, ensure that you clean your mop on a regular basis. It will help prevent mineral substances from clogging up the system.

Jump to: how to unclog a steam mop.

2. No Water in the Tank

Another common problem that may make your steam cleaner not to produce steam is the lack of water in the tank. I found that when you are in a hurry you may forget to fill the tank t the recommended volume and go down to start cleaning immediately. When there’s no water, the device will not release any steam and the cleaning process will come to a stop.

As a matter of fact, plugging in an empty steam mop can easily damage the device itself and void your warranty because there is no water to heat. Therefore, if you start complaining that your steam mop is not steaming double check that there is enough water, plug it in and allow enough time for the water to heat up to the right temperature for steam to be produced.

3. The water is not fully heated

Again, when you are in a hurry you might start cleaning without checking whether or not the water in the mop was hot enough.

In my previous post, I wrote this article on the right temperature for sanitizing and killing germs, I noted that you should allow the steam mop to heat the water to about 100℃ (212°F). Not only will this water be good for killing germs but also for releasing enough steam for thorough cleaning of most surfaces.

4. Leakage

Steam cleaning machines release steam due to pressure buildup. If that pressure is leaking somewhere in the system, your steam mop will not release steam.

There are many reasons why you may encounter a loss of pressure in your steam mop. One of them is a poorly fitted bottom cap. It can cause the mop to produce steam at reduced pressure, or no steam at all.

5. Filter Blockage

If you use water from the tap instead of distilled water, or if you have had your steam cleaner for a while, you may have a calcium filter blockage.

The calcium filter removes calcium from the water to prevent calcium build up at the nozzle. Calcium remains behind when the water turns to steam.

You can buy replacement calcium filters for steam mops online. Bissell sells a replacement calcium filter for steam mop part on amazon.

How to Fix a Steam Mop That’s Not Steaming

The most appropriate fix will depend on the cause of the problem. In 80% of the cases that I have encountered, I noticed that the problem was clogging. Most people who rent steam mops do not care enough to take care and use the devices the right way. So, if you rent yours out, you might run into this problem quite often. That said, here’s how to fix the issues.

Decalcify to unblock the nozzle

You can remove the substance blocking the nozzle manually. You need a cotton swab, vinegar, and paper clip or a similar object to do the job. White vinegar works like a decalcifying agent. If you don’t have it in the kitchen already, try CLR or Lime-A-Way.

Here’s how to unblock the nozzle of a steam mop when it stops steaming:

  1. Unplug the mop from the wall to allow it to cool down.
  2. Empty the water tank.
  3. Check the spray tip to see if it is blocked by debris or buildup.
  4. Insert your paperclip into the spray tip and move it back and forth to loosen debris.
  5. Pour a little vinegar, CLR or Lime-A-Way onto the mop head and rub with a rag to help clear any further buildup around the area.
  6. Try to use the mop as usual again.

Pro tip: Some models will require you to unscrew the base in order to get to the spray tip. If you have a Bissell Steam Mop you may need a screwdriver for this.

CAUTION: Do not put vinegar in your steam cleaning machine on a regular basis. It can cause corrosion and damage your steam mop. This can void your warranty.

Fix any leakage

If your steam mop is not steaming, another likely reason is that there is a leakage somewhere. These cleaning machines build up pressure in order to release hot water vapor. If there’s any pressure leakage, you’ll not see any steam coming out.

You need to examine it and fix it. The most common problem area is usually the bottom cap. When it is not tightly secured it is likely to cause leakage and loss of pressure.

To fix any leakage issues, fill the tank with water and then check the bottom cap to ensure that it is tightened and well secured in place. If there is a problem with the cap call your manufacturer for a replacement.

Shark and Vax Steam Mop Problems

Shark and Bissell sell by far the most floor cleaning mops today. From experience, I’ve never had a malfunction like a steam failure. However, I’ve heard quite a few people complain that it is one of the common problems with Shark models.

The problem is usually blockage and the trick to solving this is simple. Put a cup or two of vinegar in the water tank. Allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, plug it in, allow time to heat and then try steaming with it.

This fix will descale your steam mop of any limescale particles causing blockage and steam failure.

What about Vax steam mops?

When a Vax steam mop is not steaming, the problem is also likely to be a blockage. The good thing is that their machines come with a descaling pin for unblocking. Here’s a good video guide to help you unblock and fix the problem.

How to Prevent Future Steam Failures

The best way to prevent any future malfunctions of your steam mop is to follow the manufacturer’s care guide and user manual. Other than that the following tips will help keep your steam mop in tip-top condition so that you do not encounter any problems of not releasing steam when you’re on a very important cleaning job.

Use distilled water only: In order to prevent blockage, ensure that you use distilled water only. This is water that does not have impurities such as calcium that I usually cause the blockage. Hard water contains calcium, which will easily block the nozzle after some time.

Clean the steam mop regularly: The cleaning process involves removing debris and all sorts of that from the floor. This means that any of these can end up blocking the nozzle of your mop. To avoid this ensure that you clean your mop after every use.

You can also prevent build-up by adding a little vinegar once-in-a-while to your mopping solution. I’ve discussed in detail the little known effect of vinegar on your steam mop in this article here.

Steam mop not steaming - decalcifying fix

Still not working?

Unfortunately, sometimes there might be a problem with the steam cleaner itself and you might need to take it in for repair.

If you have had your steam cleaner or steam mop for a while, or if you don’t have a repair service nearby, maybe it is time to think about getting a new steam cleaner.

You can find some of Amazons best sellers below.

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