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Central Vacuum Systems

By HHI Staff

I have found that one of the best vacuums to use is a central unit with an outdoor exhaust. They usually are far more powerful than portable models, and even if some small particles get through the filter, they will be blown outdoors and not in your face.


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There are many different manufacturers of central vacuum systems, and units are available in several sizes. Typically, there is a canister that contains a motor and a dust collecting bag. It will have a 120 volt electrical connection, an inlet and an outlet pipe, and a low voltage connection. The canister is usually mounted in a basement, utility room or garage.


The flexible hoses are 20'-30' long, and there are a variety of cleaning attachments available. Some systems have a power head with a rotating brush that is powered by the air rushing through the hose, others are electrically powered.


The inlet pipe and the low voltage wire on the canister are connected to one or more wall plates. When the hose is inserted into a wall plate, the low voltage circuit is activated and the vacuum motor is started automatically. With the long flexible hoses available, an average house may only need 2 or 3 wall outlets if they are located with a little forethought. While such a long hose can seem like a snake at times, it is easier to use than dragging around a portable vacuum.


The outlet on the canister is simply piped to the outdoors. A few manufacturers have an indoor exhaust with a sound reducing muffler, but a model with an outdoor exhaust is probably a healthier and quieter choice.


The plastic piping required is usually a different size than the standard PVC material used for plumbing drains, so it must be purchased from the vacuum supplier. Metal piping is sometimes available for situations where the fire code requires it.


For homeowners who are hypersensitive to the smell of plastic, the metal piping may be a good alternative, and sometimes metal wall plates are available instead of the usual plastic ones. For chemically sensitive people, I have had good success using the plastic piping and wrapping it with aluminum foil. Such individuals may need to let the flexible plastic hose air out for an extended period until it loses its odor. This may take as long as a few months.


(Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)



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Central Vacuum Systems:  Created on April 7th, 2007.  Last Modified on February 28th, 2011


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