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Central Vacuum System Guide

Central Vacuum System Guide

Centralized vacuum systems have become increasingly popular in recent times. Due to their unbeatable effectiveness, they are on their way to becoming as indispensable as central heating and air conditioning systems. This is a central vacuum system guide to help you know these systems better.
HomeQuicks Staff
Did You Know?
The invention of the first powered vacuum cleaner, can be attributed to Hubert Cecil Booth, who received a patent in 1901, for designing a motorized cleaner which had hoses that sucked dirt and was driven by horses and a petrol engine.

Just as central heating and central air conditioning systems, central vacuum systems are built of different components such as pipes and inlets, structured around a power core, enabling you to clean any area in your home. These systems are different from the traditional vacuum systems that are present in the market, they have
Traditional vacuum systems are single unit machines, with a suction hose that must be moved from one area to another, essentially localizing their area of use. Central vacuum systems, on the other hand, run through the house and one only needs to carry a hose connector and attach it to the inlets, where required. Although it is a common argument that installing a central vacuum system in the house is an expensive proposition, however, one can look at this as an investment, seeing that the value of the property will no doubt increase, due to the presence of such a crucial home appliance.
Points to Consider Before Choosing a Central Vacuum System
There are many reasons why central vacuum systems are gaining ground over their standard counterparts.
One of the basic problems with the regular vacuum systems, is the need to be lugged from one room to another. Most are quite light and easy to move, yet, they require someone to do the pushing. This problem is solved by central vacuuming systems. Once the hose connection is made, there is no lugging, except moving the hose in the desired direction.
Clean and Efficient
Also, since the capacity is much higher, the hose is able to vacuum dust and allergens from the entire room, and not just particular surfaces. That does make them more efficient at providing a cleaner atmosphere to live in.
☞ Low Maintenance
Central vacuum cleaners don't need constant monitoring or repairs. The main unit contains a canister and a large dust bag, and it can easily be allowed to accumulate dust for as long as three months without changing. Some models with large capacities can hold dust for up to a year before they need to be changed.
A 30-foot hose can easily be directed at difficult spots, such as ceiling fans, chandeliers, drapes and difficult nooks and corners of the house. This is very difficult to do with the traditional vacuum cleaners, which might actually require to be lifted and pointed to the vertical areas, or fit with special accessories. People with disabilities, or who are otherwise unable to use upright vacuum cleaners, will experience the benefits of a central vacuum system.
No Noise
Vacuum cleaners have always been associated with noise and constant disturbance. However, having a central vacuum system can make vacuuming noise free, as the main power unit is located elsewhere.
Long Term Value
Although central vacuum systems can be on the expensive side, they do give better returns in the long run, being much more durable, efficient and cost-effective.
Parts of a Central Vacuum System
Central Vacuum Unit
It is the heart of the entire system and consists of a powered motor, attached to pipes that extend throughout the house. The motor pulls in dust and debris from everywhere, which is trapped by the filters. The power unit can be vented outside the house, or in a storage area. The filters may require cleaning or replacement from time to time, but generally work well for up to 3 months for most central vacuum systems. They can then be cleaned or replaced entirely. The main unit requires between 100 to 250 volts of power and is usually installed in the basement or the garage. It powers on, the moment a hose is attached to any vacuum inlet in the house.
Pipes & Inlets
PVC pipes are the veins and arteries of the system as they reach throughout the house and are connected to inlet valves at strategic locations. These inlet valves are of the 110 volt type and come in a variety of designs and colors. They can be installed in convenient locations around the house, depending on the area they need to cover. A single inlet can cover a substantial amount of carpet area, close to 1000 square feet for some top of the line models, others can vacuum about 700 to 800 square feet. It is advisable to calculate the number of inlets required for the house, before going in for installation.
Vacuum Hose & Accessories
This is the only part of the vacuum system one needs to carry around the house. It has two ends, one of which goes into the wall inlet for the central vacuum system, while the other has a control handle with switches and the suction aperture. An innovation in hose technology is the Hide-a-Hose, a hose that rests within the piping system of the vacuum unit and can be extracted at various inlet points in the house. Once the cleaning is done, the suction from the central unit pulls the hose back into the inlet. A typical vacuum hose is about 30 feet in length and can easily reach to any place within the room.
One can purchase a variety of tools to go along with the vacuum hose and use them for specialized tasks. Electric carpet brushes, liquid mops, angled hoses, blind cleaners and even extensions for the hose itself, are some of the widely available accessories in the market. Central vacuum systems can be fit with the same type of enhancements as a regular vacuum cleaner.
How Are Central Vacuum Systems Installed?
Ideally, central vacuum systems are installed during building or renovating homes. This is because the pipes can be concealed within the ceilings and walls of the home. However, a central vacuum can also be installed in a lived-in home without much difficulty, if the instructions are followed to the letter.
The following is a list of tools normally required for the job.
  • Electrical tape/duct tape
  • Pipe cutter and miter box
  • Electric drill
  • Safety goggles, flashlight and screwdrivers
  • Wood-boring bit, steel tape measure
  • Hammer and stud finder
  • Utility knife
  • Wire cutter
  • Wood chisel
  • 30-foot piece of cord or string
Before you begin installation, lay out all the components and make a careful check to see if there are any missing. Read the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer and only then begin the procedure. Here are some steps necessary to install a centralized vacuum system in your home.
Number of Inlets
This is where the majority of mistakes happen, as it is a bit tricky to judge the number of inlets required for a room. While calculating this, take into account the actual carpet area which would require vacuuming, and the amount of furniture and their location. If the room contains low tables or heavy immovable furniture such as dining tables, make sure the hose is long enough to go around these obstacles. A single inlet can service an area of about 700 square feet, so the calculations can be done accordingly. Some central vacuum systems come with standard inlet kits (e.g. 3 for 2000 sq feet) and can be installed directly.

Choosing the Inlet and Power Unit Locations
  • Ideal places in a room for inlets are in the hallway of your home or closet walls and doorways. Be careful not to place the inlets behind furniture or doors, as they would be difficult to access and cause unnecessary twisting of the vacuum hose.
  • Ask a friend to hold one end of the hose near the inlet site, then walk with the other end in your hand around the floor space, to make sure the hose reaches every possible cleaning location.
  • If possible use the interior walls of you home to install the inlets, as the outer walls are thicker and may have insulation, preventing you from installing them.
  • For the upper floors the best way to install an inlet is to embed it in the floor, with the tubing coming in from the attic or a closet.
  • Most brands of central vacuum systems have the motor and the dust canister as a single unit, keeping them outside the premises, enables you to clean the canister without contaminating your home.

Tube Installation
  • Before you go about installing the vacuum tubes, use a diagram of your home to plan your path, using architectural drawings will make this task even easier.
  • Mark the areas where the tubing shall pass beneath the floors and beside other mechanical equipment such as heaters, if this happens, use metal tubes for these places, to give them added strength.
  • It would be wise to consult the building codes for your area, as they often have safety instructions to help with such installations.
  • Start to install tubing from the power unit and move away, following the marked-up areas on your diagram. Fit the tubes without glue first, you may need to cut and resize some sections according to the structural requirements of your home. Do not forget to connect the electrical wiring, from the inlets to the tubes and finally to the main power unit.

Installing the Power Unit
Make sure you set up the location of the power unit within easy reach of an outside hatch, or with enough space to be able to empty the canister. A common error made during the installation is giving the unit a fresh air intake, as it draws vast amounts of air and in a smaller house can cause back-draft issues, pulling in smoky or dust-filled air and routing it through the tubes themselves.

It is generally recommended to get the installation done by a professional, as one may encounter certain wiring and electrical issues and it is always better to be safe than sorry. With all these advantages, there is no doubt that the central vacuum systems are gaining in popularity. They have all the qualities that a good home appliance must have - efficiency, convenience, time-saving, low cost, plus they require very little maintenance.