A central vacuum system consists of four main parts or components: a power unit, inlet valves, PVC piping, and a lightweight hose and cleaning wand. The vacuum canister is installed outside the living area, mostly in a garage, basement, or in the utility room. The power unit is also installed outside the living area, most often in a garage, basement, or utility room. Inlet valves are located strategically throughout the home in wall-mounted receptacles. A hose attached to the cleaning wand plugs into the receptacles and it activates the power unit. Pipes running through the walls and floors carry dirt and debris to a collection bin mounted in the power unit.
Built-in vacuum systems are easiest to install in new construction. They can also be retrofitted into most existing houses depending on factors such as access to the basement, garage, crawlspace, or attic for routing the piping. If there is good access, you may be able to handle installation yourself if you are experienced with handling tools, mainly plumbing.
How to Install a Central Vacuum System
Whether you are building a new home or doing a home renovation, this central vacuum system installation guide will teach you how to install a central vacuum system.
Installing a central vacuum is relatively easier in a new construction rather than in an existing house. This is mainly because you can easily lay all the pipes while the house is constructed. The difficulty in installing a central vacuum system in an existing is with laying pipes. Therefore, I will focus on how to install a vacuum system in new construction because of the easy access for routing the PVC pipes. Installing the system in an existing house is more or less same if you can hire someone to do the routing of the PVC pipes.
It is best to run the pipes beneath the floor rather than the attic routing the pipes through the attic means working against gravity. Even if you route the pipes through attic, you can following this central vacuum installation instructions. All you need to do is route the pipes through the attic rather than the floor.
You should always start the installation process by planning the layout of the system. Start with one of the outlet locations. Use the wall- mounting bracket to measure for the location of a hole for the riser pipe. Now use a power drill fitted with a hole saw to bore a hole through the wall’s bottom plate and the sub floor for the pipe. Bore this hole in stages, prying out excess wood with a chisel every 1 inch.
Assemble the elbow and wall-mounting bracket, and glue a length of pipe to the elbow to serve as a riser (this must be long enough to reach the horizontal pipe run beneath the floor). Screw the wall-mounting bracket to the stud.
Always add a cover to the pipe to protect it from swallowing debris during construction.
Now glue the riser to a T and the horizontal pipe run beneath the floor. Run low-voltage wires from the outlet locations, connecting them to a wire that runs all the way back to the power unit. Use electrical tape to secure the wires to the pipes. Strip the wire ends and twist them together, and secure the wire connections with wire nuts.
Installing a Central Vacuum Power Unit
Power unit of the central vacuum system should always be mounted to a wall outside the living area. Try to position the unit near an exterior wall so that the exhaust line can be easily routed outdoors. Use 2 1/2-inch-long screws to mount the plate to the wall and make sure to drive the screws securely into a wall stud.
Hang the vacuum canister on its bracket and then hold up the exhaust line assembly, complete with muffler and elbows, and make a mark where it meets the wall. Cut through to the outside and mount the exhaust vent and its exterior wall cap.
Routing the PVC Pipe for Central Vacuum System
The PVC pipe used to route a central vacuum system thinner walls as compared to
PVC water pipe. It is also lighter in weight and easier to cut and handle and is easier to work with.
All of the PVC pipes and fittings connecting the inlet valves to the power unit of central vacuum system are assembled with PVC cement. Follow following instructions to route the central vacuum PVC pipes:
- Cut PVC pipe to the required length with a hacksaw.
- Smoothen the rough-cut pipe ends with fine-grit sandpaper. Do this both inside and outside the pipe.
- Apply around one-inch-wide band of PVC cement around the end of the pipe. Make sure not to apply cement to the fitting.
- Immediately push the fitting onto the pipe end, give slight twist, and hold the joint for about 1 minute.
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- How Central Vacuum System Works
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