The central vacuum cleaner is undoubtedly one of the easiest home appliances to install despite its appearance and size. Whether you’re planning to include it as part of the design of your new dream home, or you are looking to add it to the refurbishment plans of your existing home, you’ll find that the setup is effortless.
The following guide has all the details you need on how to install a central vacuum system without breaking your back. Keep in mind that preparation is the key to a successful central vac installation and you need to plan beforehand so you can figure out how many inlets you’ll need. This will determine the area covered by your central vacuum once installed. Make sure to check your county’s building codes and observe appropriate ventilation methods before you start the installation process.
Planning Out the Central Vacuum System
The first step in a central vac installation is to figure out the placement. Ideally, you should place it in a central area that provides easy access for the vacuum inlets. It shouldn’t be difficult or expensive to install your vac just because it’s placed in an inconvenient spot.
Remember that each inlet you add to the equation will increase the installation costs and poorly positioned vacs can suffer from air leaks that will compromise the effectiveness of the suction function. That’s why you should go for the lowest number of inlets possible.
Generally, you’ll need one or two inlets per story and you should ensure that the inlets are centrally located so that the vacuum is within reach at all times. Inlets are usually located at the bottom part of the interior walls but you can also install them on the floor if you want to keep them discreet. Just be sure to include metal covers and install them away from foot traffic.
Floor installation is very popular with non-bearing interior walls that don’t have foundation support because they’re much easier to penetrate than foundation supported interior walls.
On the other hand, it might be difficult to apply this method in a home where floors are difficult to access from below, and this is usually the case with two-story homes. But, the solution here is to simply run the tubing through closet corners, behind cabinets and through the laundry chutes where it’ll stay out of sight while keeping the wiring safe.
Alternatively, you may opt for horizontally installed tubing that runs along your attic in a short and straight direction. While planning your central vacuum install, don’t forget to consider obstructions like furniture and high traffic areas which will determine the safety and efficacy of the unit once installed. It’s always a good idea to test drive the layout you’re considering by stretching a small rope the same size as the vac tubing from the inlets you plan on using to the very end of the room. That way, you’ll know that you can reach every corner of the room when cleaning with your vac.
The power unit itself should be kept far away from living areas, preferably in the garage or basement, while making sure that it’s close to the exterior wall. That way it’ll be easier for you to access the exhaust line from outside. Exhausting the unit will help to minimize the amount of dust it generates with each use.
Whatever you do, never put your central vac in an area that’s prone to heat, such as in the attic or a furnace room. The best way to prolong the unit’s lifespan while maximizing its performance is to place it in a well-ventilated area.
Installing the Central Vacuum System
What do you need?
- Power Unit – Top-Rates Power Units
- Installation Parts – Our Review of the Most Popular Installation Kits
The following is a step-by-step guide on how to install a central vac system. A central vacuum installation that’s carried out in an existing building requires you to get your hands dirty. For one, you’ll have to get access to the timber studs in your internal walls – preferably drylined – and also lift the floorboard floor tiles.
If you don’t already know how to, you’ll have to learn how to cut out electrical boxes and chases from solid walls. Not only that but you’ll have to put everything back to a pristine condition once you’re done. A central vacuum system installation is often faster in a new construction because you can just integrate it into the structure. The first fix starts with the ducting, followed by the power unit and inlet fittings.
It’s very important that you test the system soon after the central vac installation is complete. The last thing you need is to discover a loose connection or another issue in the installation after you’ve put up your wallpaper.
Install the CVS Power Unit
The best place to put your extractor power unit is in the basement, cellar or garage. Other homeowners choose to place it in a soundproofed room in an effort to eliminate noise pollution. You should avoid placing it in the attic or the loft because both areas are prone to overheating.
If there’s one tip we can give you it’s to do your central vac system installation on an external wall. This will simplify the process of installing the exhaust pipe on the exterior walls of your home. Also, make sure that your vacuum unit is placed in a well-ventilated area so that it won’t get exposed to excess heat and/or dust.
The good news is that most central vacs include a mounting bracket so that all you have to do is fit the bracket on the wall according to the provided instructions and you’re good to go!
Fit the Exhaust
As soon as you’ve secured your vac in an ideal position, you can move on to the next stage, which involves fixing the exhaust in place. Most exhaust units feature a muffler or silencer that’s designed to diminish the amount of noise produced during the operation.
You’ll have to drill an opening so that you may access the exhaust from outside, and you’ll have to place the exhaust as close to the opening as possible so that it’s not a mission for you to reach it. Lastly, make sure there’s a well-caulked flap vent on top of the unit to protect it from the elements.
Fit the First Inlet Valve
Experts recommend beginning the installation process with the vacuum socket that’s furthest from the extractor and then work your way backward. This is to avoid having too many 90 degree bends and it will maximize airflow while eliminating the blockage risk.
A majority of modern-day ducting is available in 42mm diameter pipes but you can also get it as a flexible hose with 60 to 90 degree Y connectors, pan outlets or straight connectors.
You’ll want to take your time here and perform the job in small parts. Start with a small section of pipework and once you have a dry run, you can then fix each section in place using a strong adhesive like glue. Follow the same process when making another short run of pipework until you’ve installed the entire system.
Fit the Other Inlet Valves and Pipework
You’ll have to get your pipes from the inlets to the power unit using one of the methods outlined above. The route you take will depend on the way your house is constructed and this part of the process might require a fair amount of skill and expertise as well.
Usually, each wall inlet starts out with a low voltage power cable circuit that travels all the way to the vacuum unit. Then, you’ll have to place a pipe connector on the outlet so that it can activate the vacuum unit every time you switch it on. This will make things so much easier because then you won’t have to go back and forth to switch on your central vacuum cleaner.
The best part is that a CVS is fairly easy to install, even for amateur DIY-ers. But, you still have to do the ducting and make room for each outlet, which can be quite expensive and will most likely require an experienced professional to help you out, especially when it comes to putting everything back together once you’re done installing the entire unit. You need to make sure that everything is in the right place so that you don’t end up damaging your system.
Make Sure the Central Vacuum is Working
Once you’ve finished your central vac installation, you’ll need to test the system to make sure that it works properly. Start by testing whether or not the system is closed because all inlet valves should be closed at this point. Also, make sure that no air emanates from the power unit exhaust when you switch the unit on. Do a walk-through of your entire house while the system is switched on to see if there’s any hissing sound coming from it. If there is, check your connections as you may have missed gluing one in place.
Ask a friend to help you with plugging each inlet valve so that you can confirm that the unit is as easy to switch off as it is to turn on. Generally, the unit should switch off as soon as you turn off the hose handle. If it doesn’t, then this points to a problem with the low voltage wires. They may have gotten disconnected or reversed somehow, so you’ll have to check your wiring at this stage.
Well, there you have it! Now you know how to install a central vacuum system in an existing home and in a new construction.