Central Vacuum Rough-in Installation

A outline of parts and steps for building your own central vacuum installation rough-in kit.

Build a rough-in central vacuum system installation kit for traditional inlet valves.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Pipe, Connectors, Low Voltage Wire

Inlet Valve Placement Considerations

  • Place an inlet near the base of a stairway as it is easier to vacuum going up the stairs.
  • You may want your vacuum hose to reach a porch or deck.
  • Consider an inlet in the garage, attic, or basement.

Installation Part Descriptions

Part # Photo Description Qauntity* Notes
#501 Part #501 Tight 90 Ell X 1 Goes only on the backing plate (that the inlet cover attaches to). It will be the tightest turn in the system and therefore catch anything long and stiff right at the inlet valve.
#502 Part #502 Sweep 90 Ell X 3 The most used fitting for routing vac pipe. The Sweep Ell has a more gradual 90 degree turn than the Tight 90 and is better for air flow.
#503 Part #503 Spigot Sweep 90 Ell X 1 One end of a spigot fitting fits into another fitting. Great for tight spaces.
#504 Part #504 45 Ell X 2 Use these for offsets and thus use less Sweep 90's.
#505 Part #505 Spigot 45 Ell X 1 One end of a spigot fitting fits into another fitting. Great for tight spaces and for offsets. Here is a plumber's secret - a regular 45 and a spigot 45 together can make any angle.
#507 Part #507 Coupling X 5 Fits pipe sections together.
#508 Part #508 Sweep Tee X 1 Connects a pipe coming from an inlet into the main truck line that runs back to where the vacuum power unit will be. You can use a pictured "Y" fitting instead #509 for better angles.
#512 Part #512 Pipe Strap X 3 Pipe straps are used most often under homes, in basements, and when pipe is exposed in closets on some existing home installations.
#513 Part #513 Pipe Collar X 1 Used primarily in existing home installations when and if the pipe penetrates any walls. Makes the installation look clean. Remember to slide it over the pipe and wire before gluing.
#518 Part #518 Exhaust Vent X 1 If you are venting a ventable central vacuum unit, you will need one or two of these vents.
#519 Part #519 Plaster Guard (two in a pack) X 1 Plaster guards are used in new construction installations to protect the backing plate from the drywall process.
#523S Part #523S Steel Stub X 1 When penetrating a fire block wall check local codes. Usually this steel stub connected to couplings and vacuum pipe will do. Glue with rubber cement. Fire rings are available too.
#521-10
(10 8ft sections)
#520-10
(10 4ft sections)
#520-4
(4 4ft sections)
Part #520 PVC Pipe 20ft Vacuum pipe, or tubing, is made specifically for central vacuum systems. It is thin wall PVC with a 2-inch outer diameter fitting perfectly into vacuum fittings creating a smooth turn so no objects can "catch an edge". When gluing, use PVC cement on the pipe end only and push into the fitting with a slight turn. No glue residue will be inside the pipe.
New Construction
Electric Inlets
#663HW
Part #663HW SuperValve X 1 SuperValve comes with both the rough-in mounting plate (to which an electrician runs Romex from a nearby source) and the inlet cover plate to put on after drywall and paint. Low voltage wire is ran to the inlet as well.
Existing Construction
Electric Inlets
#526L
Can be used in New Construction as well.
Part #526L ElectraValve ElectraValve comes with the mounting plate and Romex wire (that an electrician needs to tie into 110 volts). Low voltage wire is ran to the inlet as well. For existing installation simply cut the metal section off the backing plate. Finish with an ElectraValve cover, pictured.
New or Existing Construction
Non-electric Inlets
#517
Basic Inlet Valve Faceplate 3 in 1
Backing Mounting Plate
The mounting plate doesn't incorporate any 110 volts, only low voltage wire. You will also need a Basic Inlet Valve Faceplate (pictured)
#540 Part #540 Low Voltage Wire 30ft You will need approximately 30 feet of 20/2 low voltage wire per vacuum inlet.
#545 Part #545 Wire Ties 5 Strap the low voltage wire to the pipe at each major elbow and every 4-feet.
#670PW Part #670PW VacPan (toe tick automatic dustpan) Usually one in the kitchen This very popular add-on is a bit more difficult to install than a traditional inlet but worth the effort. You need the installation supplies above as for any other inlet valve.

Pipe, Fittings, and Wire Purchase Lists

Estimated Pipe, Fittings, and Wire for New Construction and Existing Homes. Links 1 through 8 below will pull up the estimated quantities where you can edit the quantities and add to cart.

Remember to add all toe-kick inlets to the number of regular inlets. This will give you the total amount of inlets.

For more than eight inlets, add two numbers to the cart (one at a time). Make sure to continue to steps 2 and 3 for inlet valves and more.

Installation Supplies

Step 2: Choose Inlet Valve Type, Style, and Color

The installation supplies connect to the inlet valve backing plate. The backing plate receives an inlet valve cover. All inlets below can be used in existing and new construction homes.

Types of Vacuum Inlet

Basic Inlet Valves

Easiest to install and the least expensive.

Remember to buy #517 backing mounting plates on Basic Inlet Valve page. Use an attachment kit that is air powered or electric powered (hose has an eight foot pigtail cord that comes out of the wall end of the hose and plugs into a nearby electrical outlet). Shop Basic Inlet Valves

Electric Inlet Valves

More complex installation and higher cost than a basic inlet, but perfect for homes with carpeting necessitating electric vacuum head grooming.

Backing / mounting plate is included. The inlet cover is not included with ElectraValves but available on the page. Use an attachment kit that is air powered or electric powered (hose has direct connect pins for voltage connection at the vacuum inlet). Shop Electric Inlet Valves

Toe-Kick Dustpan Inlets

You will love to use (and show visitors) the toe-kick sweep inlet. Simply sweep debris right into the central vacuum. It's so easy, and really handy. Put one in the kitchen, and possibly the bathrooms and mud room. Shop Toe-Kick Inlets

Other Installation Considerations

Penetrating a Fire Block Wall

Some state and county codes will not allow PVC penetration of fire block walls. If your local code permits block wall penetration, use a 6-inch piece of steel or a 3M Fire Stop Ring. See fire block options here.

Using Helpful Installation Tools

Smooth transitions are essential in preventing a system clog. Remember to cut straight and debur all cut edges. To ensure straight cuts, use a miter box, or for better results use a PVC cutter. Here are tools you can buy online for a professional installation. Also listed is a 2 9/16 hole hog bit for large drills. Vacuum PVC is 2 inch OUTER diameter, but you will need a larger hole than that in your stud bay to run necessary low voltage (and possibly 110 volt ) wires along the PVC pipe.

Low Voltage Wire

The low voltage wire from step one turns the vacuum suction on and off. It will run to each inlet and back to the main canister unit. The 20-gauge wire can be spliced and/or daisy chained to a 'home run' wire back to the unit.

Step 3: Vacuum Unit and Accessory Attachment Kit

Once the rough-in is completed and the home finished, it is time for the central vacuum unit and accessory attachment kit. We recommend purchasing these items through a local dealer.

Central Vacuum Units

MD Central Vacuum has several models to choose from. Designed and assembled in the USA, these powerful, clean vacuums are the result of 50 years of engineering passion. They are only available and priced through your local dealer. Find your central vacuum unit here.

Accessory Attachment Kits

The last and probably most important decision is what hose and tools will be used to clean your home and utilitze the central vacuum installation. There are a variety of attachment kits available to meet your specific home's cleaning needs. Find your attachment kit here.

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