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Central Vacuum Systems For Your Home

What is a central vacuum system? A central vacuum system is made up of a group of inlets that are connected via piping to an integral power and canister unit, as shown in Figure 1. The inlets are generally wall mounted, but can also be floor mounted. Each inlet allows you to vacuum 700 to 800 square feet. A flexible hose, approximately 30 feet long plugs into the outlets. Numerous types of suction heads are available to connect to the end of the hose, including power beaters, as shown in Figure 2.

central vacuum system
Figure 1 - Central vacuum system
central vac accessories
Figure 2 - Central vac accessories

Installing a central vac system is a home improvement project that can be undertaken by the majority of diy home handymen.

The power/canister unit is usually mounted in a garage or basement.

Most handymen can install a central vacuum system, without the need for professional assistance. The most complex part of the installation is physically running the two inch plastic piping from the power unit to the inlets.

There are many reasons to consider the installation of a central vacuum system for your home:

  • Relieves Allergy Symptoms:
  • As the power unit and canister are mounted outside of the living area of the home, exhaust air from the vacuum is not circulated back into the room being vacuumed which substantially improves the air quality in the room. Coupled with good filtration, many manufacturers are using HEPA filtration, almost 100% of the contacted dirt, dust mites, pollen, dander, and other allergens are removed and contained.

  • More Power:
  • Central vacuum systems deliver up to five times more suction power than conventional upright or canister vacuum cleaners. More suction equates to better cleaning.

  • Larger Canister:
  • The canister that is attached to the power unit holds as much as six gallons of dirt, 10 times more dirt than conventional upright or canister vacuum cleaners. You can vacuum longer without the inconvenience of changing bags or emptying canisters.

  • Convenience:
  • Have you ever tried to vacuum a ceiling fan, drapes, blinds with a conventional vacuum? Usually the hose is not long enough, even with the extension pipes – you end up lifting the vacuum cleaner in the air in order to reach the corners and tops. With the long hose associated with a central vacuum system, reaching corners, ceilings, and other difficult areas is easy.

    Have a multi-story home? Then you have faced the inconvenience of carrying your vacuum cleaner up and down stairs, not to mention the difficulty in actually vacuuming stair cases, usually it means trying to position the vacuum on the steps in order to reach all points.

  • Quiet:
  • Because the power unit is not located within the living quarters of the home you are able to hear the phone, answer the door and listen to music while vacuuming.

If you are looking for a home improvement project that will be of benefit to the entire family – consider a central vacuum system. As with any home appliance, it is wise to investigate the specifications, features, and accessories available before you choose the manufacturer and model that suits your requirements best.

Installing Your Central Vacuum System:

Determine locations for inlet valves, remembering that you have 30 feet of suction hose, which means that inlets must be located within 50 feet of one another.

inlet valve installation for a central vac system
Figure 3 - Installation of inlet valves

The installation of inlet valves is not complicated, as shown in Figure 3.

Determine the location for the power/canister unit. Remember that access is needed to empty the canister. Because central vacuum systems have more power than a canister or upright vacuum a separate electrical circuit is recommended (check the power rating of the unit you are purchasing to determine voltage and current requirements).

Then run PVC pipe and low voltage wiring through the basement, attic or crawlspace, as shown in Figure 4, from each inlet valve to the power unit. (In multi-story homes, piping may be run to upper levels through the backs of closets, under stairways, beside soil pipes.) There's little or no damage to walls and practically no mess.

layout of a central vac system for a home remodel
Figure 4 - Running Central Vacuum Piping