Foodsaver Problems... YIKES!!

lisbNovember 8, 2006

I am on Foodsaver #3 and am ready to scream! I got my first one about 3 years ago so I could cook in bulk for Daddy and freeze his meals. It worked fine for about a year and a half. Eventually it wouldn't vacuum properly. I called Tilia. They had me seal a teaspoon (they do that a lot). The company sent me a new foam rubber gasket. Problem solved (for about 6 months). It still vacuumed okay but it would no longer seal the bags. I bought a new one. It worked for about 8 or 9 months with good results, then the vacuum started working off and on. I called Tilia. They had me seal (you guessed it) a teaspoon! Worked beautifully. This would be great if my Dad ate cutlery but he doesn't!!! The person at Tilia said that since I had the machine for less than 1 year they would send me a new one!! About a week later I had my new machine. I plugged it in and tried to vacuum save a bag of food. Worked great. Second bag... nothing. It cycles as if vacuuming the air out but nothing happens. Then it seals the bag air and all. I have read all of the instructions. Followed everything to the letter. I wait at least 30 seconds in between bags, make sure the food isn't too hot, blah blah blah. Sorry to go on so long but I'm beginning to think there's something wrong with me and not this crazy machine. Has anyone else had problems with one of these. Does anyone out there have another brand that works well for them? I know Black and Decker has a new "heavy duty" sealer. I may try that one. Help! Somebody!!

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Mine is now over 3 years old and has never failed me yet. On the other hand, I have gone through 3 paper shredders that are supposed to sense paper in the shredder blades and switch on and off automatically, which they don't do after just a few days of use. The 30 seconds wait time for the FS isn't for the food contents, but for the heat strip on the machine. Many of the higher quaility machines have a built in circuit that will make the unit inoperatable for several seconds if it senses the heater tape becoming too hot. As to the vacuum seal, the machine should be cleaned after each use, especially the foam rubber areas, both top and bottom. If any trace of liquid gets into the sealing area, or inside the cavity that is supposed to catch the liquids, it can severely damage the pump. My machine has two auto settings for a light and heavy vacuum, as well as an instant seal button that only works if the machine starts up and the button is pushed within a second or two. The bags MUST be flat in the seal area, and so, they should have sufficient length to go inside beyond the sealing strip when the top is closed down. There should never be any food on the plastic bags where the seal is made. If sealing a liquid, the length/distance between the food and sealing area should be wider, as it can pull in liquids, and make a failed seal. Sometimes, I forget that a good inch or two needs to be left at the open ends of the bags for the proper spacing and sealing. If its too short, the vacuum will not pull down on the bag because the bag is not far enough inside the machine. Because I use mine with maybe 30+ bags in a single sealing session, I also use a regular heat sealer to seal off the bottom ends of a cut piece off a roll. This helps to save the heater strip in the FS from stopping due to excessive heat build up, which can happen. Sometimes even the best designs are problematic. I am not attempting to defend FS, but only to point out that it can be damaged, and fail, if the proper procedures are not followed when using the machine. I seal many items with the FS, including meats, veggies, breakfast sandwiches, and most anything else that goes in the freezer, and have only seen a couple of bag seals that have leaked, and that was usually due to the seal area not being totally flat, or had some food trapped in the sealing area. Tilia, does stand behind all their products and I must say that their customer service is excellent when I had to get replacements for some damaged containers. One of which had a crack in three replacement shipments for the same item. There is another brand out there, but isn't as high a quaility as the FS types.

The links below are for commerical vacuum sealers, be prepared for a price shock though, as they are not cheap toys!

One of the above sources also sells the 'impulse' heat sealer.

Highlight the links above and copy/paste into your web browser.

Here is a link that might be useful: Allied Kenco

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 8:48AM
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I've had mine for a year now and have been happy. I did have some problems with learning how to get the bag edges fully down in the sealing slot...especially if the bag was kind of full. I had some problems that kind of sound similar to yours before I got this figured out. It would vacumn and not seal. I had a frustrating time doing some stuffed peppers...but then figured out if I made the bag a bit larger (I was trying to be frugal), the ends fit into the slot depper and sealed.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 11:02AM
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I've used the food saver about 10 times and I've learned liquids are a real problem. I was trying to be frugal also. There cannot be any liquid in the area to be sealed. I've had mine seal and not get a vacuum. The directions with the machine are not very good. You might try lightly cleaning the area with a little vinegar.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 11:20AM
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I ruined my first one more than likely by getting liquid into the pump. FS promptly replaced & am a little smarter now.

Now when doing soups, stews etc I freeze them first in ziplocks and then do the sealing thing.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 12:40PM
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John, that is great idea. I have another batch of okra which lost it's vacuum and I know it is because of the liquid factor. I was wondering how I could possible do soups. I don't know how to make a small amount of soup and there are only the two of us.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 4:01PM
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> John, that is great idea.


Certainly not my original idea. Learned to do it here. Not sure who to credit. I have learned more foodie basics here than any other forum by far.

Thanks all!


    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 4:11PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I freeze 200-300 packages a year, and had only one failure in the past 10 years - the pump shaft snapped.

For many years before Tilia launched the vacuum sealers, I froze cut veggies, soups, etc. in the square plastic freezer containers... pint & quart size. Fortunately, I kept them; so after experiencing some of the sealing problems mentioned above, I now freeze _everything_ (either in freezer containers, or on cookie sheets) before sealing in bags.

The frozen blocks fit easily in the bags, and as long as the transfer is done quickly, there are few problems with bad seals. Corn-on-the-cob, eggplant, tomatoes, and pepper slices are first frozen on cookie sheets, so they won't stick together in the bag. With pre-freezing, there are _no_ problems with liquid being sucked into the machine.

The boxes I use are somewhat bulky, but you could probably freeze things in low-profile plastic containers (such as rubbermaid) to get shapes that store (or stack) more easily.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 5:36PM
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CA Kate

I have this happen now and again... especially if I'm doing a lot of packages. I've found that the gaskets need wiping off frequently... then no problems.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 7:24PM
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Make sure the open end of the bag is dry before sealing. Sometimes when you put items in the bag you can unknowingly leave moisture in the seal area of the bag.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 8:07PM
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Thanks for all of your responses. I follow all of the instructions to the letter. My machine is always clean, the bag has enough room to fit into the channel, I wipe the inside of the edge of the bag before sealing, I remove and clean the rubber gasket each and every time I use it - let it dry - then replace it, I keep a piece of wax paper in between the sealing strips when it is put away, I don't have liquid in the bag, I've tried freezing the food first. Still there are problems. I guess I'm just not meant to have one of these. Thanks anyway for all the great advice. Lis.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 1:03AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Trying to be frugal in the seal and vacuum area is the most common problem that can lead to poor seals. I don't buy any of the pre-made bags, but instead prefer the rolls so I can make my own sizes. Tilia also has a dispenser with sliding cutter to make quick work of cutting the rolls down to size. For sealing soup, think 'solid'. Freeze small portions of soup first, fill the bags, pull the vacuum and seal. Then toss back in the freezer. No liquids are lost that way. I did it recently for stuffing and gravy and it worked great. Sometimes even after a few replacements and problems, you can still find the device useful. I like it for making my home made egg 'Mcmuffins with no cholesterol Egg Beaters, home made lean pork sausage, and home meade english muffins. They heat up in a minute and a half in the microwave, and once the bag swells up and/or pops, the muffin is heated perfectly.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 12:22PM
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I was on Food Saver #4 and was also ready to scream. Fortunately, I returned all 4--from a lower end machine to the best one they make, the Pro III--and then looked elsewhere. I have used vacuum sealers in the past and had one from France that cost about $150 and lasted 15 years and worked great (unfortunately, I cannot find this company in business--at least in the U.S.). The Food Savers I tried all had the same problems you described. They worked very inconsistently and poorly, at best. Even the $299 Game Saver Turbo machine, which was promoted as their best, with a dual piston pump, and with the capacity to do 50 bags in a row, would only do about 4-5 well and then would act up, not vacuuming but sealing bags after this, and even the extended vacuum button on this "high end" machine would often not work (and there were no instructions on how to actually use the feature in the documentation. Finally, I gave up on the Food Saver people all together. I think that their machine may be okay for someone who wants to do a bag or two now and then, but is too clunky, slow, and poorly designed for serious food vacuuming. Really, I think the company has hoodwinked the public through good marketing into believing that their machines are good--when they are not--and so sadly people struggle with them, accept the problems as normal, and keep the machines despite their inconsistencies.

I am now considering either Cabelas entry-level commercial machine at $399, a CG-15, or ARY's Evo Vaccum Sealer at $329. Both seem a substantial cut above all the the Food Savers. As I said above,Food Saver's products seem more about marketing than substance when you look into the various machines they sell under various names and at various prices--with little real difference in internal parts or features between them.

I hope this feedback helps.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:45AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Frankly, I haven't been happy with any of them since my old Seal-A-Meal (the one that used perforated bags and rolls) bit the dust after nearly 30 years of hard use.

I'm not sure of the advantages of vacumn sealing anyway. I don't mean the value of a vacumn seal. That's a given. But given all the hoops you have to jump through, particularly when sealing liquids, it's not worth the trouble. Not to me at any rate.

An alternative: Fill a zipper bag. Close it except for about a half inch opening. Submerge the bag, up to the zipper in water. Seal the opening. Wipe the bag.

You'll have a perfect vacumn seal without the fuss of a tempermental machine.

FWIW: I don't know about the FoodSaver, but the instructions for every other vacumn sealer I've looked at specifically tell you to freeze liquids before sealing. What a PITA that must be.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 6:04AM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I have a similar method that I use with the zipper bags. I started back when I was mailing cookies to hubby when he was on deployment. I would zip the bag almost shut, them suck the rest of the air out (like sucking on a straw) and zip it up. I'm sure it is pretty funny to watch, but the cookies used to arrive fine even after a few weeks. I've since used it when freezing things. Of course, I don't pull much of a vacuum but I don't do long term freezer storage. There isn't enough space in there. I do more leftover storage than anything else. They get pulled out for lunches.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 11:20AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Not sure what model FS had a 'button' for a high vacuum. The only kind I have seen (and use here) is a knob that is set to either 'normal' or 'higher' vacuum, and a single button to do an instant seal once the pump is engaged. Mine is now 3 years old and has never once failed in pulling a vacuum or sealing. When I first used the unit, I did try to make the seal ends very short, but soon found out that once the top was dropped onto the seal area, it would push the short end of the bag outside the vacuum area, or would wrinkle the bag. In these cases a bad seal or no vacuum was done. The Seal A Meal is still being sold and from what I have seen of these, they are a bit too flimsy. If you want a high quality commercial sealer, try looking at the ones that I listed at the top of this thread. I am not defending FS or Tilia, I am only saying that not everyone has problems, and some people mistreat or don't follow the instructions would can cause failures. Any trace of liquid entering the vacuum pump can render it inoperable. If there was still a french made unit, would the specially designed plastic bags be hard to find?The bags for these are very heavy weight and have embossing to help distribute the vacuum.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:41PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Melly, I know people who suck out the air with a straw, which might work better than directly sucking on the bag???

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 5:06PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Regular plastic bags, or even the zipper types, even with air removed, don't seem to hold a vacuum very well. I usually see a lot of moisture crystals inside the bags after a few months of storage in the freezer. The product inside also seems to be dried out. When I use the heavier FS bags, I never see any frost inside, and the bags are still quite firm and stuck to the contents.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:25AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Just an FYI. Tilia/Food Saver is offering free shipping until November 27 on all web orders. I just got an email from them mentioning this event.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 6:44PM
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julieinindiana(East Central IN)

I just purchased the regular and wide mouth jar sealers from FoodSaver. I've found that some of the mason jars that I use can't be used w/ the jar sealers. Anyone else have this problem? When I purchased the sealers I assumed you could use them w/ any type mason jar. Other than that, I love my FoodSaver, but it took me a while to get the hang of using it also.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 7:13PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Unless the jars are a 'true' mason design from Ball, Kerr, or Golden Harvest, you may have a seal problem. The reason is simple. At the bottom of the threads in the glass, there is usually a thick bead of glass that the FS adaptor makes contact with. The rubber sealing ring of the adaptor will actually make the contact with that glass bead, which is where the temporary seal takes place. If this were a commercial spagetti sauce jar, they usually lack the thick glass bead, or have more glass above the threaded area, which prevents the FS adaptor from going down around that glass bead just below the threads.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 11:12AM
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reba_grows(colder than 6, warmer than 5)

Here's what I have found about the FS and their mason jar vacuum's.

First- if I try and use either the regular canning jar or the wide mouth jar, with any lid that comes packaged as screwed on top of the jar, the lids don't seal 99% of the time for wide mouth, 100% for regular. (And don't you just HATE how Ball packs them now, instead of like they used to do separately in a box with the jars?)

Now, if I use lids that I purchase boxed by themselves, (even lids I know are 5 years old), then I get a 99.5% seal for the wide mouth jars but one seal in 100 for the regular jars.

I thought something was wrong with the gasket on the regular size jar sealer. Now I don't know. What do you think ksrogers... I agree with your comments on why other 'mason' jars may not be sealing.

By the way, for processing, I refuse to use the Ball lids packaged screwed on the jars- many failures in those cases, yet I can't remember more than 3 or 4 lid failures in 30 years from purchased lids either boxed separately but with jars, or sold alone. I now only buy jars that come in boxes with dividers and full top because the lids seal perfectly canning or (wide mouth) vacuum sealing, and I store all my beauties in those boxes on the shelves (without rings of course!).

I have had a bit more luck getting the Golden Harvest lids to seal the usual mason jars with the Food Saver, as well as for canning, even though they come screwed onto the top of the jars. I think that's because the jars come packaged in a box with a full lid for better weight distribution of the cases stored above. Also, they do not seem to be screwed onto the top of the jar tight enough to make a deep impression like Ball.

Lastly, I agree that it's best not to be stingy with the amount of overhang that goes in the channel of the sealer when using either bags or rolls.
For those who shop at Walmart-
One store that is within 10 minutes of another, carries only food saver brand rolls, the other one also sells a generic roll for about 4$ less a roll. Go figure....


    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 2:06PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Actually, all of the lids I use are either from a box of jars that had them screwed on, or from seperate boxes of lids only. This past summer I used the vacuum adaptor with a much stronger vacuum pump fitted with a liquid trap so any liquid wouldn't get sucked into the pump. I had not even one failed seal, and all 60 regular mouth jars, both quarts and pints had no vacuum loss. Before applying the lids to the jars, I always have them in slightly simmering hot water, so they go from that hot water right onto the jars, and then the adaptor is placed on, pump is switched on, then the vacuum hose is attached to the adaptor. I even have a gauge that will tell me if I have a decent vacuum. None of my jars had a single problem with making a vacuum seal. I use this method just for making my pickled pepperoncini peppers that are full strength vinegar and salt as the brine. These jars cannot be heated, so I must rely on the vacuum made mechanically. None have shown any spoilage yet, and that includes another 50 jars I made last year. I did notice that the lidss that are packed with the jars has an indented impression on the rubber seal, but once they are soaking in the hot water, that indent of the glass rim seems to disappear. Food Saver dosen't recommend using the jar adaptors in home canning, but because my pickling process involves several vacuum operations prior to filling the jars with the peppers, I don't feel that there is any problem. Oddly, I had four of the rectangular containers that come with a cheese grater. I used these just once, and pulled a vacuum on them. In every instance every one of them cracked at a corner, telling me that my vacuum is way too much for this design. I called Tilia several times and they did replace it every time, but now i have four of these and none are vacuum tight anymore due to the crack that forms after a single pumping session. Needless to say, my vacuum pump is quite powerful, so it may explain why my lids are never leaking once they get vacuumed onto the jars.
The FS pump isn't as powerful, but in order to get a decent vacuum, you need to have it running for about a minute or two so that a decent vacuum can exist.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2006 at 5:10PM
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julieinindiana(East Central IN)

Do you think heating up the lids would make a difference in the vacuum seal? I'll have to try that. Before I always just used the lids w/o heating them up.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 8:34AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

In regular canning, you do need to heat up the lids in simmering hot water. Don't bring the water to a total boil though, as the rubber seal can become too soft and may not seal properly. If its for vacuuming canning dry goods, be sure to wipe off the lid of any water, especially the inside of the lid. The tiny amount of residual water left on the rubber seal after wiping will help it cling better to the glass.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 11:32AM
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Foodsaver vac800 gasket
The upper black foam rubber gasket needs to be replaced. Not available from the company. Any ideas out there as I hate to throw a working machine away for the want of a buck part?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 2:01PM
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I am having a problem with my Foodsaver V3250

all of sudden it just dosent work.
no lights come on at all.
its done this one time before and it just seem it had over heated since it came back on after a minute or so.
this time its not coming on.
I have only had it since christmas.

any help would be apreciated.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 7:45PM
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I am having problems with FoodSaver bags that I make. If you check the pattern on the roll, the ones that are a diamond pattern work fine. The rolls that have a wavy pattern will not work in hot water. We stock up on meat when it's on sale and grill it on the barbeque pit. Then we freeze it in meal size portions with extra butter and vacuum seal it. When I fix supper, I get a bag of grilled steak, chicken or pork chops out of the freezer, place it in a pot of water and simmer til hot. In about 30 minutes, it's ready to eat, with the grill seasoned butter to put on potatoes. The diamond pattern bags work great, no problems. However, the wavy pattern bags, will almost always come apart on the end that I sealed. So I wind up with whatever meat I'm fixing for supper in a pot of hot water and no seasoned butter for my potatoes.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 2:16PM
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