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Central Vacuum Installation FAQ

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Installation of central vacuum systems is not only easier than people think, it typically costs less than expected, as well.
Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the installation process.

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What does the central vacuum installation cost?
The central vacuum installation cost depends on the number and type of inlets and the quality of the vacuum and accessories. Contact your local dealer for a free central vacuum price quote. On the installation page we give some general price ranges.

Can a vacuum system be installed in an already built home?

Yes, homes of any age can be retrofitted with a central vacuum without destroying any walls. Installing systems in one-story homes tend to be easier than installing systems in homes with two or more stories. Installation can utilize closets, soffits, return air ducts, pantries, basements, stud bays, and interior walls to run the pipe and wire. It takes one day and there is no mess or damaged walls.

Can there be multiple users?
In private residences, only one person may operate a vacuum unit at a time. Installation of multiple power units in which more than one user would be operating the system is appropriate for cleaning crews in very large homes or businesses.

How many inlets are installed?
A typical home with a traditional 30-foot vacuum hose needs approximately one inlet to cover 700-1000 square feet of living space.  When installing a Hide-A-Hose, a single 50-foot retractable hose can cover 3000 square feet. The cost difference is minimal.

Where are inlets installed?
Inlets are ideally located close to high traffic areas like kitchens and living rooms. It’s also a good idea to locate a specialty inlet in utility or laundry rooms. Inlets should not be placed near doors, furniture, front door entries, or other inconvenient locations. These small 3x5-inch hinged valves are placed at the same height as the electrical outlets in the home. Hide-A-Hose is put chest high or thigh high depending on if the hose goes up or down into the pipes.

What is a Central Vacuum Rough In?
When a home is being built, one of the last products to have the plumbing installed is the central vacuum. As the electrician is finishing up the central vacuum pipe rough in will occur. The central vacuum rough in cost is usually less than the finish of the systems when the vacuum unit and attachment kit are installed.

Looking to do-it-yourself?

How much money can I save installing the system myself?
For both new construction and existing homes the central vacuum price will be lower but how much lower depends on many factors. On average, about 25% cost savings can be realized by installing the system yourself. See your local dealer for supplies and help.

When is the central vacuum installed?
The pipes and wiring can be roughed in before the drywall is up and at the same time as the electrician is finishing. Temporary plaster guards are used on the stud-mounted backing plates to protect the interior of the pipe while drywall, mud, and paint are being completed.

What is the best way to cut and glue PVC?
To avoid clogs, cut the pipe with a tubing cutter (not a hacksaw), and make sure to remove all burrs from the cut edge. Glue the male end only of the joint to prevent creating glue ridges inside the pipe connection. Central vacuum pipe and fittings are made to join seamlessly so the air travels without interference and to prevent items from getting hung up. Primer is not necessary.

Wiring the system?
Each inlet valve will have a 20-gauge, stranded pair, low voltage wire that should be spliced into a single line that follows the PVC pipe back to the power unit. Some inlet valves also have 110-volt inlets to power an electric power brush. An electrician can easily connect the valves’ 110-volt wires to a nearby electric outlet.

Exhausting necessary?
Check for manufacturer recommendations regarding exhaust venting. Units that exude dusty exhaust are usually vented outdoors. If venting outdoors is not possible, then vent in an area where mess can be tolerated. Systems with adequate filtration will not need venting.

What is the difficulty level of installation?
Although not quite as simple as installing a sprinkler system, a central vacuum installation is fairly uncomplicated, requiring only one day or less for most homes. Required skills include planning, drilling, cutting, and low voltage wiring. See the Installation Manuals.

Where are installation supplies sold?
All central vacuums use the same industry standard central vacuum pipe, elbows, and wall inlets. Most supplies are available through dealers or online. Find out what is needed for your installation using the three easy steps for installation supplies.

Routing and connecting pipe runs?
Use sweep elbows throughout the vacuum tubing rough in pipe run and a tight elbow at the inlet valve on the wall. Always use two 45-degree bends for any offset jogs instead of two 90-degree bends. The "trunk" run can be located under the house or above in the attic. Minimize the amount of fittings whenever possible. Here are ideas for routing the central vacuum pipe to a number of different inlet locations.

Penetrating the firewall?
Check local building codes regarding the necessity of a steel pipe or fire collar to penetrate the firewall. If the PVC pipe connected to the power unit passes through a firewall (usually plywood behind wall board), be sure to abide by all building safety codes.

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Central Vacuum Installation Manuals
Detailed central vacuum installation manuals, whether you hire a central vacuum installer or do-it-yourself.

Installation Product Pages
Installation Pipe, Fittings, Tools, & Wire
Installation Inlet Valves & Backing Plates

Other FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions (General)
Troubleshooting Questions