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Central Vacuum Systems


A central vacuum system has vacuum inlets built into the walls of the home. You hook a vacuum into an inlet and then dirt is collected and funneled to a common location. Usually the vacuum and dirt storage is in the garage or basement. The main benefit of central vacuums is that they tend to have less dust recirculate into a room and they may be quieter. Central vacs usually vent the air outside. This prevents microscopic dust particles from being recirculated back into the home. Also, because the vacuum motor is in the garage or basement it can be quieter inside the home when vacuuming the home.

Some central vacuums have a more powerful vacuum and can pick up heavy debris. You can get dust pan vacuum slots that are attached to the floorboard in rooms you use a broom. This lets you use the central vac to remove dirt you gathered using a broom. A good place for the dust pan slots may be in kitchens or bathrooms. Lighter hand held attachments are available to make it easier to vacuum the stairs or vacuum a car. Some systems also have wet vacuums accessories you can use to vacuum up liquids or wet debris.

If you think you may want a central vac system in the future the consider installing the pipes when you build the home. This will make it easier to add the system later if the pipes are already installed in the walls. Having the pipes installed may also be a nice feature for resale value. However a central vacuum can usually be added later to most homes. It may be difficult to add a central vacuum later if the home is built on a slab foundation (because typically pipes are run through the basement). A vacuum can be installed with pipes running through the attic but this is not an option in rooms with cathedral ceilings.

You can also get central vacuums that have retractable cords that are stored inside the wall. Instead of hauling a long cord around and storing it in a closet, you can have the cord retract into your wall.

Central vacuums are available with night lights built into the outlets. Some central vacuums also use energy recovery ventilators (HRV) to help recover some of the energy that is being lost when the air is ventilated outdoors.

Some central vacuums have electrified valves. An electrified valve lets the vacuum outlet provide electricity to the vacuum. If the valves are not electrified then you will also need to install electrical outlets near each valve to provide power to the vacuum's brush.

When choosing the location of vacuum inlet valves, put them in areas that will not be behind furniture so they are easy to access. Have enough valves so the vacuum hose can reach all areas of the home. Keep in mind that the distances covered by a vacuum is typically less then the radius of the hose. Furniture or other objects can often reduce the coverage area that a hose will reach. Also, if you want to use the vacuum on drapes or other areas above the floor consider this when estimating how far the hose will extend from the inlet. Typically central vacs have hoses that are 30 feet long. In general you will need at least one inlet valve for every 500 square feet of space you want to vacuum. For example, if your home has 3,000 square feet then you will probably need 6 inlet valves.

When the pipe is installed it is best to avoid having a lot of bends. Too many bends can reduce the strength of the vacuum. If you are installing the pipe yourself, be sure the cuts are straight and smooth. A rough cut can trap debris in the tube. If the tubes go through unheated space (such as an attic) the tube in those areas should be insulated to reduce the chances of condensation in the tubes. Condensation can cause dirt to stuck inside the tube.

A central vacuum's motor is rated according to the square footage of a home. Get a vacuum that is rated for the square footage size of your home. If you have a large home and buy a central vac that is rated for a smaller square footage area then you may not have enough suction power in the vacuum for all parts of your home. The altitude of your home can also affect to power of a vacuum. If you live at a high altitude (over 5000 feet above sea level) then you may need to get a unit that is rated higher than the square footage of your home.

A central vac has a motor that can be noisy and produce dust. It is best to have the collection tank and motor is in a non-living space of the home such as a garage, basement or laundry room. Many central vacs have an optional muffler you can install on the tank to reduce the noise.

The central vacuum's motor should have a dedicated outlet. At startup, a central vac can draw a lot of power. If other things are on the same circuit there's a great chance of tripping a circuit breaker. The vacuum motor also needs a few feet of airspace surrounding the motor to ventilate the motor.

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