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Central Vacuum System


Central vacuuming systems are permanent appliances built in to a home. The central unit containing the vacuum motor and dust collection bin is mounted on a wall in a basement or garage. PVC plastic pipes run from the central unit and through the walls to inlet valves placed in convenient locations around the home. A typical dustbin is easily removed from the bottom of the vacuum motor housing for dust and debris disposal away from the living space.


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The central vacuum system is ready for use when a spring-loaded inlet cover that seals against vacuum loss is raised and the vacuum hose is pushed in. A built-in 24-volt switch activates the central vacuum motor and you are ready to work. A nearby electrical outlet may be used for motor-driven power brushes. The inlet valves, similar in size to electrical outlets, are typically mounted at a corresponding height off the floor. Some inlet valves mount directly on the floor.

Central vacuums have a number of advantages over portable units. Central systems are both quieter and more powerful than typical upright or canister-type portable vacuum cleaners. They have larger collection tanks and greater filtration capability. The higher suction they provide helps to remove more allergens from the home because the systems are vented to the outside. Studies show a measurable improvement in indoor air quality when vacuums are exhausted outside the home.

With no bulky motor or canister to lug along, the vacuum hose and power head of a typical central system will reduce the strain of vacuuming and may minimize damage to furnishings. Most systems come with a good selection of long-lasting attachments for specific jobs. The hose is typically 30 feet long, so that one inlet placed in a hallway could be used to clean up to three adjacent bedrooms. Manufacturers recommend placing one inlet for each 600-800 square feet of living space.

In addition to the standard wall inlets, some makers offer a baseboard inlet for the kitchen, or any other room with hard-surface flooring. Intended as a replacement for a dustpan and brush, the "toe-kick" inlet allows users to sweep floor debris into the inlet for disposal.

The chief disadvantage of a central system is the difficulty of installing it in an existing home. Installation in an existing home is best left to professionals who know both general home construction techniques and the essentials for constructing an efficient system.

The best time to install a central system is during either initial construction or a major remodeling project that allows easy access to walls in the home. In both situations, the piping system may be easily run through the studs before wallboards are hung on the framing, and the vacuum hose inlets may be secured more readily. Otherwise, it may be necessary to remove sections of some walls and ceilings in routing the system's pipe matrix.

The components of a central system cost $500 to $800; professional installation adds about $300 to $600 to the total.


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Central Vacuum System:  Created on June 4th, 2009.  Last Modified on November 9th, 2009


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