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What is a Central Vacuum Cleaner?

Learn How Central Vacuums Work And How They Are Installed.


Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a vacuum cleaner as a household appliance for cleaning floors, carpets, upholstery, etc. by suction. With a central vacuum cleaner, the main suction power unit is located in a central location such as a basement or garage and the suction power is distributed throughout the entire home or structure via a rigid piping system and inlet valves where the hoses are connected. The piping system leads to inlets placed throughout the home (varying per home size and layout) which are connected to a flexible hose for usage with a floor brush or a wide variety other cleaning attachment tools. With the remote location of the main suction unit, the heavy, high-powered motors and all their noise and the debris are kept out of the living area, leaving you with just the sound of the air flowing through the hose and the small motor in the floor brush, if being used. An alternative to hoses you carry around when using and then have to store comes with the more convenient option of a Hide-A-Hose system which allows the hose to retract back into the wall. This comes with many advantages for added storage space and less hassle of carrying a hose back and forth.

How it Began

Central vacuums first made their debut in the early 1900s, but PVC pipe in the 1960s popularized the concept greatly. Properly installed central vacuum systems have quickly become the favorite household appliance of owners because of their advantages over portable vacuums. In some countries, such as Sweden and Canada, they are almost a standard amenity.

How it Works

During the cleaning process, the dirt, dust, and debris being vacuumed are disposed of to a remote location rather than filtered back into the same room, which is a huge advantage for any allergy-suffering residents. Being stationary rather than portable, the central vacuum contains motors that are heavy and typically have 3-5 times the power of portable vacuums, provide a much deeper cleaning on the first pass. The noise is greatly reduced and the large capacity tank decreases the number of times you need to replace each bag. Typically, central vacuum bags can be replaced every 6-8 months depending on the usage rate. The lightweight hose allows for multifunctional cleaning purposes such as: stair cases, window sills, closets, and cars.


Most of the time, the central vacuum system is installed when a home is being built, but it can also be retrofitted in existing homes. Because it is a built-in appliance, it is typically sold with the home as a structural improvement, allowing the homeowner to recoup their original cost by adding value to your property, which makes it an overall great investment.