Frequently Asked Questions

Central vacuums are an incredibly effective, efficient way to clean your home, but most homeowners either aren't aware of them or don't understand them. We want to help you understand this simple, yet life-changing concept and get connected to a local dealer for a free price quote.

Why should I install a central vacuum?
Central vacuums typically cost about the same as a high end portable vacuum, yet last much longer and offer far more power. Central vacs are known to reduce allergies, are quiet, versatile, and good for the environment. Used, broken portable vacuums typically end up in landfills after being replaced every few years. Central vacuums are also a smart investment for your home since most homeowners recoup their investment once the home is sold. See Seven Reasons to Install a Central Vacuum for more information.

  Can Central Vacuum Systems be installed in existing homes without demolishing interior walls?
The only hole needed to install a central vacuum system into an existing home is concealed by the inlet valve. In other words, you never have to break walls or do drywall repair when installing a central vacuum. Typically, the pipe can be run behind a wall by running into a corner of a closet and then traverses either up to the attic or down to the basement. While homes with two or more stories can be retrofitted with a central vac, it is usually easier to install in a single story home with a large basement or attic.

What is the entire price of a central vacuum installation?
The average cost for a central vacuum system installation in a home less than 3,000 square feet varies but only costs between $1,200 to $3,000. The accessory kit, number and type of wall inlets, power unit, and the hose are all factors that affect the price. Most dealers offer free estimates and demonstrations so you can be sure of what you're getting. Since a central vac system can be installed in both new construction and existing homes without demolishing interior walls, there are no hidden construction costs to worry about.

  What happens if a vacuum pipe gets clogged?
Large objects, like small toys, socks, and coins, will typically make it all the way to the power unit without getting stuck. If a clog does occur, it usually happens in the hose because that is the smallest diameter of the entire system. Sometimes objects will make it to the inlet because the first elbow at the wall inlet is the tightest and can act as a trap. Both clogs are easy to fix, and even if an object lodges further in to the system, there are several ways of remedying the clog. See the Central Vacuum Service flowchart for more information.
What's the difference between a portable vacuum and a central vacuum?
The biggest difference is that a central vacuum is a built-in appliance, while a portable vacuum is completely separate from you home. Since it is a built-in appliance, you don't have the annoying noise and smell that typically accompany portable vacuums. Your air and home are also cleaner because the dust and debris gets carried away outside of the living area rather than re-circulated through the exhaust as with a portable vacuum. Portable vacuums are also heavy and cumbersome and don't maneuver easily. Central vacs use a single hose, allowing you to clean your home easily and freely.


  How is dirt collected?
All of the debris swept into the vacuum travels through the hose and pipes and then gets trapped into a filter in the main vacuum unit. The filters do occasionally need to be replaced, but MD's power units hold gallons of debris, so they only need to be replaced a couple times a year. When it's time to replace the filter, simply remove the lid off the central vacuum unit, detach the filter, and replace with a new filter.

How is a whole house vacuum system installed?
Installations are not as extensive as one may think. If the home is under construction, the backing plates and pipes are the last thing put into the framing as the electrician is finishing up. For existing homes, installation is simplest if the home is single story with a good-sized attic or basement. In either case, the installation process is the same: hang the power unit in the basement or garage, run a trunk line of PVC tubing and branch to each inlet, and then run a low voltage wire along the tubing to each inlet. Inlet locations are on interior walls, and only one inlet is needed for every 700 to 1,000 square feet. Visit the Central Vacuum Installation page for more help and manuals.

  Does the vacuum's power diminish the farther away from the source the hose is used?
The suction remains powerful no matter where you are vacuuming inside the house, because the motors in the stationary vacuum unit in the garage or basement are much larger and far more powerful than those in portable or canister vacuums. You can also be assured of top performance at all times, because each of MD's vacuum lines has several different models to choose from for a home of any size.

If the power unit is in the garage or basement, how do I turn the system on and off?
A "trigger" wire is connected to each wall inlet during the installation process. When the vacuum hose is plugged in or the switch on the hose handle is engaged the low voltage wire signals the power unit to power on or off.

  What if I need replacement parts and accessories?
Parts, replacements, and a variety of accessories are available for your central vacuum system. If we don't have what you are looking for, let us know and we'll point you in the right direction. To see what's available for your system visit the Central Vacuum Parts page and click on your brand.
   

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Why should I install a central vacuum?
Installing a central vacuum system in your home not only will save you time and money, but it's also good for the environment. Besides the fact that portable vacuum cleaners need to be replaced every few years, these used appliances often end up in landfills. In addition, a central vacuum reduces allergies and is quiet, versatile, and cost effective: most homeowners recoup their investment once the home is sold. To learn more about the benefits of installing a central vacuum system in your home, see Seven Reasons to Install a Central Vacuum.

Can Central Vacuum Systems be installed in existing homes without demolishing interior walls?
You never have to break walls or do drywall repair when installing a central vacuum, even in pre-existing homes. The inlet valve on the wall conceals the only hole needed. For less work, the pipe can be run behind a wall instead of inside of it. When installed this way, the pipe is run into the corner of a closet where it hugs the closet wall and traverses either up to the attic or down to the basement. Homes with two or more stories can be retrofitted, but a central vac is easier to install in a single story home with a large basement or attic.

What is the entire price of a central vacuum installation?
The average central vacuum cost for a system installed in a home less than 3,000 square feet varies but only costs between $1,200 to $3,000. Central vacuum price variations depend on the number and style of wall inlets, the size of the power unit and the hose, the accessory kit, and any optional extras. Most dealers offer free estimates and demonstrations, so you will know exactly what the installation entails. Keep in mind that a vacuum system can be installed in both new construction and existing homes without demolishing interior walls, so there's no hidden construction costs.

What happens if a vacuum pipe gets clogged?
It's expected for large objects like small toys, socks, and coins to make it all the way to the power unit without getting stuck. However, if a clog is going to happen, it will be inside the hose since this is the smallest diameter of the entire system. A clog can also occur if an object makes it as far as the wall inlet because the first elbow at the wall inlet is the tightest and can act as a trap. Both clogs are easily remedied, and even if an object lodges further into the system, it is not a big problem (reverse suction and other methods of dealing with clogs are discussed in the Central Vacuum Service) flowchart.

What's the difference between a portable vacuum and a central vacuum?
These are completely different vacuuming experiences. First, because the central vacuum is a built-in appliance, you've eliminated the most annoying features of a portable vacuum cleaner: noise and smell. Second, dust and pollutants get transported out of the living area with a central vacuum system and are not re-circulated back into the living area through the exhaust as with a portable vacuum. Finally, instead of wrestling with a heavy machine or a cumbersome hose as is the case with a portable system, you are vacuuming with a single hose, enabling you to clean your home freely and easily wherever you like.

How is dirt collected?
Everything swept into the vacuum travels through the hose and PVC pipes and then gets trapped into a filter at the main vacuum unit. Eventually the filter will need to be changed; however, vacuums manufactured by MD hold literally gallons of debris, so they need to be replaced only a couple times per year. When the time comes to replace the filter, simply remove the lid off the central vacuum unit, detach the filter, lift it out, toss in the garbage, and then replace with a new filter.

How is a whole house vacuum system installed?
Installations are not as extensive as one may think. If the home is under construction, the backing plates and pipes are the last thing put into the framing as the electrician is finishing up. For existing homes, installation is simplest if the home is single story with a good-sized attic or basement. In either case, the installation process is the same: hang the power unit in the basement or garage, run a trunk line of PVC tubing and branch to each inlet, and then run a low voltage wire along the tubing to each inlet. Inlet locations are on interior walls, and only one inlet is needed for every 700 to 1,000 square feet. Visit the Central Vacuum Installation page for more help and manuals.

Does the vacuum's power diminish the farther away from the source the hose is used?
The motors in the stationary vacuum unit in the garage or basement are larger and more powerful than portable and canister vacuums. For this reason, the suction power remains strong no matter where you are vacuuming inside the house. Also, each line of MD vacuums has several models to choose from for a home of any size, so you can be assured of top performance at all times.

If the power unit is in the garage or basement, how do I turn the system on and off?
As part of the installation process, a "trigger" wire is connected to each wall inlet. This low voltage wire, similar to a doorbell wire, signals the central unit to power on or off when the vacuum hose is plugged in or when the switch on the hose handle is engaged.

What if I need replacement parts and accessories?
Parts, replacements, and a variety of accessories are available for your central vacuum system. If we don't have what you are looking for, let us know and we'll point you in the right direction. To see what's available for your system visit the Central Vacuum Parts page and click on your brand.

More Information:

7 Reasons Why to Buy

Installation Options, Price Range

Contact a Local Dealer for a FREE Quote

Q and A
5 Questions
Ask a new general question or
read the many already answered.

More FAQs:
    Installation Questions
    Troubleshooting Questions