Should You Invest in a Central Vacuum System in Your Home?

ByMarc Silberberg


Are you tired of fixing your vacuum cleaner? Does it seem like your home vacuum is being replaced too often and the expense and inconvenience is getting to you? You might be one of the people who is a candidate for a central vacuum system also called a whole-house vacuum system.

An efficient vacuum cleaner is a must in an efficient run household. Besides the usual dirt particles to be picked up, dust removal is an integral part of vacuuming. You can brush off the surface of your flat pile carpet with a broom and then be surprised at the additional debris that you find in the dirt bin of a vacuum cleaner. Dust on the floor or carpet can be invisible but it shows up in the dirt bin of the vacuum. The motor of a central vacuum system can be up to five times as powerful as your average portable vacuum.

Central vacuum systems have been around for a long time, over forty years for sure. Just like any other electronic appliances they are constantly being upgraded. If you have a one floor condo or a large mansion, these systems can be accommodated to fit your individual requirements.

There is one power unit that takes care of the entire house whether large or small. The power unit is usually installed in the garage, basement, or utility room away from the crowd. If you live in a condo, it can be mounted in a closet as well. The power unit is not that bulky, and any small or large dwelling can accommodate it successfully.

There Are Several Techniques That Central Vacuum Systems Utilize

  1. Cyclonic system: The air in the canister located outside the home spins.
  2. Debris is collected in a canister or bag which needs to be changed infrequently.
  3. Baseboard suction- where the homeowner turns on a switch and uses a regular broom to sweep the dirt near a baseboard machine which sucks up the dirt.

Although it is much simpler to connect a central vac system in new construction, there are ways to install it into regular dwellings as well. Pipes run through the inside walls and these pipes are connected to one powerful vacuum unit located in another part of the house. The installer will figure out how many suction ports are necessary by calculating the square footage of the house and the maximum distance that will work with the individual system hose. A system hose can be up to thirty feet long, either retractable or not. So, if two rooms can be reached from one port then that homeowner will not need a port in each room. In fact, often a few ports will be able to service certain homes.

Advantages of a Central Vacuum System

1) Many homeowners get frustrated with all the extra parts that must be switched with their portable vacuums. You think twice or three times about cleaning your drapes, couch, or floor corners with a regular portable vacuum. With a central vac system, you can clean your home faster and more extensively. Since you are lifting a hose instead of a vacuum cleaner, you can easily change to other attachments. In some systems you can even reach areas such as cars and garages without having to lug a heavy vacuum cleaner (You may have to install an extra port near these venues to accomplish cleaning these areas).

2) If you have a baby or young child and are working parents the only time you would be able to vacuum would be at night. The noise of a regular vacuum could wake the children or prevent them from falling asleep. If you are fortunate enough to have your power source in your garage or basement, then no one will even hear the motor running. For sure the noise of the suction will be muffled as well.

3) The resale value of your home will increase with a central vacuum system. If you purchase a system that has a longer warranty, not only will the system last long term, so will the warranty. Unlike the resale value of a home with an in-ground pool, experts such as Nick Gromicko of the International Association of Certified Home Inspections, say that home buyers will pay extra for the convenience of a whole-house vacuum.

4) Ryan England, manager of Vacuums & More in Indianapolis, praises the advantages of central vacuum systems in reducing the dirt and dust causing allergens which aggravate asthma and other dust related allergies. By using an external venting system like a dryer venting system instead, the recirculation of dirt and dust in the house is greatly diminished. The air goes out of the house instead of swirling around in the house and then falling back down to the floor when the portable vacuum shuts off. By the dirt and dust exhausting out of the house you are getting rid of it for good and it will never come back into the house again. According to Ryan England, the proof of the efficiency of this system is that they are routinely installed in hair salons and animal clinics so that hair will not recycle internally. Once the hair is vacuumed it is out permanently never to return.

5) “If you really want a green home, this would be a piece you would want to add”, says Mike Cleary owner of Cleary Vacuum Co. in Indianapolis. Your unit usually will only be emptied about two or three times a year and should be inspected every few years to make sure all the vacuum hoses are clear, and the machine is in optimum working order.

Hands on Experience

I totally would agree from reading so far that a central vacuum system is the way to go. However, I want to be totally upfront and confess that I have a central vacuum system in my house that is not used, nor has it been used for many years. I was fortunate to be able to build my home on a vacant property in my neighborhood. It was built in the nineteen eighties when the building industry was in a slowdown. My home was finished in six months and although it is a basic home, one luxury that I included was a central vacuum cleaning system. This was over thirty-five years ago, and I would assume they have improved in quality and usability since then. Interestingly, in my research they seem to be basically like the one in my home. Unfortunately, within a few years my system was not suctioning efficiently, and I was not able to get in touch with the original installer that my contractor had hired. When calling in a company that my neighbor had used, it was determined that to fix my system would require lots of time and money because they would need to determine exactly which pipe was clogged. The price was too steep and the easiest solution at the time was to give up and buy a portable vacuum cleaner. I would not venture to guess how many vacuum cleaners I have purchased since that time, but it is well into double digits. Honestly speaking, the estimator who came to give me a price on repairing my system explained to me that the system was put in a faulty manner. We were given an estimate in the thousands for a new and improved system and that was not an option at the time.

The suction ports that are still in my walls, ensured hours of fun as my children and later grandchildren created games while speaking into the ports. I must admit that a matchbox car and at least a Lego or two found their way into the ports as well. I checked online and saw that ports are not made much differently today. In fact, there were several queries from concerned parents as to how to lock up the ports and the solutions were not too practical.

In closing, I would not discourage you completely from installing one of the better central vacuum systems in your home. Nonetheless, I would make sure to speak to previous customers to ensure that the installer knows exactly what he is doing. My home was built around the system, however, if you are thinking of installing a system into a regular home or condo, it is imperative that you get the most experienced and best installer possible. (As Mike Cleary says, “If there is a wall, there’s a way.) If you think about the system itself, it is no more complicated than a portable vacuum, but the inside wall job can be botched up as mine was.

If you would like to know if I would do it again, that is installing the system into my home, it is a hard call. The convenience of a central system is amazing. There is no heavy machine to lug around from room to room. The bag must be cleaned only a few times a year and is away from the family so that the air quality in the home is much cleaner which is especially important for allergy sufferers. I am always looking for new and more convenient ways to keep my carpets and floors dust free. My newest purchase is an I-Robot Roomba vacuum, so stay tuned to my next article for a report.

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