Benefits of a Central Vacuum Cleaner System

Tips on Installing a Central Vacuum Cleaner System

By Mark J. Donovan

I installed a central vacuum cleaner system into our home about three years ago as a retrofit effort. I must say it was one of the best things I ever did and it was not too difficult to do. Not only did it please my wife tremendously, I too have appreciated it. Central vacuum cleaner systems have tremendous suction, require only a hose to drag around, are much quieter, and are easy to clean. In addition, they can be less expensive than some of the high end canister vacuums that you drag around your home, particularly if you install it yourself.

Central Vacuum Cleaner System Types

There are two main types of central vacuum cleaner systems. There is the cyclonic type and the filtered type. The cyclonic systems create a tornado like airflow inside the canister to separate the air from the debris.

The filtered systems use a combination of screens to clear the air sucked in from the vacuum. Both collect debris in the bottom half of the canister. Some canisters include a bag that sits in the bottom of the canister.

Central vacuum cleaner system accessory kits usually include 25-50 feet of hose, a power brush and various hose heads. Power brushes can be either electrically or air driven. If you purchase a type that is electrically driven you should install your hose receptacles near wall outlets so that the power brush can be plugged in.

Installing a Central Vacuum Cleaner System

Installing a central vacuum system can be done by the do-it-yourself homeowner however it is a little tricky, particularly if you are doing it as a retro-fit.

The central vacuum canister system should be mounted on a wall in a utility room or garage area, away from the main living space, as they can be noisy. They should be installed near an outlet that is rated for 20 amps.

When purchasing a central vacuum system you will need to buy sufficient piping and hose receptacles for your home’s particular needs. The PVC pipe can easily be cut and glued together.

Installing a Central Vacuum System

It is best to install a central vacuum cleaner system when the house has just been framed, and before the drywall has been installed. PVC piping and wiring should be snaked from the central vacuum system canister through the wall studding to various locations throughout the house. Typically you will want to install one or two central vacuum hose receptacles on each level of the house. It is always good to include one in the garage as well.

If you are installing a central vacuum system in your house as a retrofit effort, then it may be wise to install the canister unit in the basement. This way you can snake PVC piping along the floor joists.

To get to the upper level floors, you will need to cut 2” wide holes in the 1st level flooring and up through existing walls on the 1st level floor. This can be tricky and you may need to remove some sheet rock on the 1st level floor to properly glue together the piping and to securely mount the central vacuum system receptacle to the wall. You will have to go through the same process if you want to install the piping up to the 2nd level of the home.

Again, installing a central vacuum cleaner system is well worth the time and investment. If you are going to install one as a retrofit, first plan where you will locate the canister unit and how you will route the piping. Look for ways to route pipes in existing walls or in closets.

For help on building a new custom home, see’s New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides you with the knowledge on how to plan a custom home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors for your new home construction. It also includes a detailed cost breakdown table and spreadsheet for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

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