There’s no need to fear installing a central vacuum system. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a daunting task and can be done even after your house is built. In this article, we will guide you through the central vacuum installation process, summarizing and simplifying it to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Advantages of Opting for a Central Vacuum System
A central vacuum system offers several advantages. Firstly, it promotes a healthier environment by not venting air back into your home like standalone models. Instead, the vacuum’s main canister, which handles the vacuuming and filtering, is placed in a remote location, usually the garage.
Components of a Central Vacuum System
For those new to central vacuum systems, let’s go over the basic parts that make up the system.
Powerplant or Tank/Filter System
The powerplant, or tank/filter system, houses the vacuum motor and stores the collected dirt for removal. It utilizes the household electrical system and often includes filters and noise suppression technology, enabling it to operate efficiently in garages or concentrated areas of the home. Bag systems are commonly used in central vacuum systems, providing efficient filtration and protecting the motor from hazardous dust and dirt particles. However, cyclonic systems, which don’t require bags and offer continuous suction, may require outdoor ventilation.
PVC Piping for Airflow
To ensure proper airflow, PVC pipes need to be installed throughout your home. It’s important to use wide sweeps and avoid narrow radii, as they create choke points. Opting for a layout with a series of 45-degree bends rather than 90-degree bends is recommended for better airflow.
Photo courtesy of niagaravacuums.com
Entrance or Inlet Siding
Inlets serve as the contact points for the central vacuum system. They are where you connect your motorized brush and perform your vacuuming. The placement of the inlet is crucial to ensure optimal functionality. It should cover an area of approximately 600 to 900 square feet, and it’s preferable to mount it either on the base plate or at the same height as the power outlet. Inlets can include live 120V AC power or low voltage cables for activating the system.
Electric Brushes, Hoses, and Accessories
A reliable electric brush and hose are essential components that connect to the inlet, allowing suction to be activated. Hoses can be as long as 30 feet or more, depending on your needs. For a two-story house, it’s advisable to invest in a set of electric brushes and hoses to simplify the process. Additionally, a wide range of accessories is available for various cleaning tasks, such as vacuuming floors, upholstery, and stairs.
General Tools and Supplies Needed
Here’s a list of the tools and supplies you’ll need to install a central vacuum system:
- Tape measure
- Electrical tape and cable ties
- Pipe cutter, cordless reciprocating saw, or hacksaw
- Cordless drill
- Wood Drill Bit (2-1/2 in.)
- Stud finder
- Hole saw (2-1/2 inches)
- Utility knife
- Wire strippers
- Miter saw
Vacuum Line Supplies Needed
To plan your central vacuum system, you’ll require the following supplies:
- Inlet Valve Kit or Panel
- Vacuum tube
- Mounting brackets
- 90-degree short elbow (2″ PVC)
- 90-degree elbow (2″ PVC)
- 45-degree elbow
- Scan it
- Stop coupler
- Pipe belt
- PVC primer and glue
- Cable ties
- Low voltage wire
Planning Your Central Vacuum Layout
Start by determining the layout for your central vacuum system. Ideally, the main PVC vacuum line should run through the center of your house, either under the subfloor, through the crawl space, or in the attic. Additionally, a trunk line should branch off and terminate at the entrance. While planning, ensure that the PVC pipes don’t run near chimneys or areas prone to condensation. If necessary, switch to a metal product or use insulation to address these challenges. For two-story designs, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance due to the complexities involved.
Installing the Central Power Unit
The central power unit should be installed in a suitable location such as the garage, basement, utility room, or laundry room. Depending on the system you choose, either a paper bag filter system or a cyclone system, make sure it’s properly vented if required. Ensure that the unit is located within six feet of an outlet with sufficient current to power the system.
Installing PVC Pipe and Inlet Valves
The complexity of installing PVC pipes may vary depending on your home’s structure. Easy access to an attic or crawl space simplifies the process, while block walls or areas prone to ice can present challenges. Utilize closets to conceal the plumbing and bypass hard-to-locate areas. Floor valves are also helpful when retrofitting intake valves in existing older homes.
Running Low Voltage Wiring
To power your central vacuum system, run low voltage wires alongside the PVC pipes. Use wire nuts or connectors to splice the low voltage wires to the main line, and secure them to the PVC using cable ties. Maintaining correct polarity throughout the run is essential, so consider using different-colored wires to keep track.
Checking Your Work
Before completing the installation, make sure to test the system’s functionality. Run the system briefly with all entry doors closed to check for any excessive exhaust. Walk around the house and listen for any leaks that may indicate unglued PVC connections.
Although this guide doesn’t cover every aspect of installing a central vacuum system, we hope it provides you with helpful information. If you require assistance with wiring, consult an electrician, and consider hiring a professional for complex installations. Installing a basic central vacuum system is manageable and offers long-term benefits. Don’t let misconceptions deter you from enjoying the convenience and efficiency of a central vacuum system.