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How do I Troubleshoot a Pump Actuator on a Shark Steam Vac?

Elizabeth Falwell

The Shark Company manufactures a line of steam-cleaning vacuums and mops, which are sold under the "Shark" brand name at retailers nationwide including Walmart, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The pump actuator is the part of the vacuum that connects the vacuum's handle to the tank.

If you're having problems with water leaking from the base of the vacuum's handle, or with the pump handle not having enough pressure to create the cleansing steam, the pump actuator may be to blame.

  1. Check the assembly of your Shark steam vac (called the Shark Vac-Then-Steam by the company). The base of the vacuum's handle should be firmly attached to the pump actuator without any wiggling.

  2. Disconnect the handle from the pump actuator. Examine the receiving end of the pump actuator (the part that accepts the base of the handle) to make sure it is free from any visible dirt or debris that could cause the connection to be loose. Clean out any visible debris with a cotton swab or microfiber cloth.

  3. Reassemble the handle and pump actuator according to the instructions in your Vac-Then-Steam user guide. The owner's manual says to insert the base of the handle into the open end of the pump actuator until you hear a "click." This sound will let you know the two pieces are firmly and correctly assembled.

  4. Look for problems with the electrical cord. This piece is not a part of the pump actuator, but is actually connected to the pump tank. However, the actuator has a clasp on it that can be used to secure part of the power cord to the machine for easier handling. Make sure the clasp on the pump actuator is not crimping or bending the cord in an unusual fashion. If it is, detach the cord from the clasp, straighten it, then reattach it to the clasp on the pump actuator.

  5. Pump the mop correctly. What you interpret as a problem with the pump actuator may instead be user error. The Shark Company recommends plugging the vacuum in and waiting at least 30 seconds before beginning the pumping process. Then, pump the handle in a downward motion toward the pump actuator 10 to 12 times to generate enough steam.

  6. Check the pump tank to make sure there is water in it. If there is no water in the tank, you will be unable to create steam even with proper pumping technique.

  7. Examine the pump actuator for cracks or chips. A broken pump actuator will give you an ineffective seal on the pump, making it more difficult to generate steam. Contact the Shark Company to order a replacement pump actuator. If your product is still under warranty, the company may ask you to send in the entire vacuum and either replace it or repair it for you.

  8. Tip

    If the above troubleshooting tips do not solve your problem, contact the Shark Company's customer service line at 1-800-798-7398.


    Do not attempt to take apart any of the Steam-Then-Vac's preassembled parts (such as the pump tank). Doing so could nullify the vacuum's one-year limited manufacturer's warranty.