Learn how to install your central vacuum unit.
By understanding a Central Vacuum System, the project you will be undertaking is basically a straightforward job which does not require special skills or tools and can be done within hours. Installation is simple, but remember; take your time and consider everything before cutting into a wall of floor, and be sure to check for hidden electrical wires or plumbing and heating equipment...If you're just replacing the central vacuum canister and not installing a whole system, it should simply take less than 20 minutes.
Can I Install A Central Vacuum Myself?
Absolutely! Any do-it-yourselfer that is even somewhat handy should be able to install a central vacuum. There are no special tools required, just a few common ones found around the house. If you choose not to do it yourself, any handyman, plumber, contractor etc. would be able to install it. Remember, the job is easy to do and typically takes less than a day...
As our free gift to you, a helpful installation DVD is now included in our all-in-one complete packages.
Our friendly and knowledgeable technical staff is here to help as well, just call us at 1-800-322-2965.
Learn how to install a central vacuum system, DIY and save money.
|This video is property of Electrolux Home Care Products, Inc
Recommended Number of Central Vacuum Inlet Valves
When determining the number of inlet valves it is important to provide maximum coverage with a minimum number of inlet valves. However, there are not a maximum number of valves per unit. As a general rule of thumb, the approximate number of inlet valves needed for a home can be calculated by dividing the total square footage by 600 (if a 30-foot hose is being used) The inlets should be accessible and convenient to use. You should choose central locations on interior walls which will allow you to clean several rooms from one inlet. you should also consider where the furniture will be. Too many vacuum inlets don’t make sense! Most of them would never be used anyway as the hose is long enough.
Try this method for determining your inlet locations. Cut a 30 foot piece of string and tie one end to a heavy object or have a helper hold it at the planned location. Next, tie the other end of the string to a 3 foot long stick (or to the system's cleaning wand itself). While beginning at the location farthest from the central vacuum power unit, use the stick and string as a substitute for the central vacuum hose and wand. Make sure you reach all parts of the floor and ceiling and allow for the hose looping around large furniture. The inlet location itself should not be blocked by furniture or placed on a wall where it will be blocked behind an open door. Move toward the power unit location; use this method to outline all your cleaning zones and to determine the exact location of all your wall inlets. Allow for some overlap in cleaning zones. Take some time and experiment with different locations until you find the number of inlets you need and the most convenient locations for your hose. Inlet valves can be situated between studs, clear of plumbing, wiring, heating ducts, etc. In new home installations, the system is installed after electric and plumbing, but before drywall.
Central Vacuum Inlets - Where to place them
Where the furniture will be.
Where the telephone table will be.
If there will be a flower vase there
Will this be the place of your favorite armchair.
Quantity of Central Vacuum Inlets
To many vacuum inlets does not make sense! Most of them would never be used anyway as the hose is long enough.
The inlets should be accessible and convenient to use. You should choose central locations on interior walls which will allow you to clean several rooms from one inlet. Some of the ideal locations are in hallways, at the bottom of stairs, and near doorways.
Try this method for determining your inlet locations. Cut a 30 foot piece of string and tie one end to a heavy object or have a helper hold it at the planned location. Next, tie the other end of the string to a 3 foot long stick (or to the system's cleaning wand itself). Beginning at the location farthest from the power unit, use the stick and string as a substitute for the vacuum hose and wand. Make sure you reach all parts of the floor and ceiling and allow for the hose looping around large furniture. The inlet location itself should not be blocked by furniture or placed on a wall where it will be blocked behind an open door. Move toward the power unit location, use this method to outline all your cleaning zones and to determine the exact location of all your wall inlets. Allow for some overlap in cleaning zones. Take some time and experiment with different locations until you find the number of inlets you need and the most convenient locations for your hose.
Calculate later obstacles such as furniture, appliances additional wall etc. ALWAYS OVER LAP (as shown below).
You should be able to reach your complete 100% dwelling or house comfortably with the flexible hose including the highest corner at ceiling height, have easy access to stairways, you should not be using a portable vacuum to do this, it would be mad!
Don't Forget The Cars!
If it is structurally possible, install a vacuum inlet valve, near the main entry door(s) so that you can also reach outside during the summer months.
Without a garage? You have a carport of just a parking bay near the house; you do not have to do without your central vacuum system! Install a vacuum inlet valve on the outside wall.
Floor Mounted Inlet Valves
While the normal installation of inlet valves is in partition walls, occasionally one must be installed in the floor. In this case the location for the inlet valve should be about two inches from the wall and not in a high traffic area. As with wall installations, use a pilot hole drill to make sure the location is clear of obstructions below. Cut a hole that is 2-1/2" x 4-3/8" in the floor.
In the case of linoleum plate will be installed from below. If the floor is carpeted cut a hole in the carpet with the utility knife and slip the un-trimmed mounting plate under the carpet. Fasten the mounting plate to the floor with screws. A coupling and a short piece of tubing may be required as a spacer between the mounting plate and the 90 degree fitting below
Installing Direct Connect Inlets
Wiring Instructions For Electric Inlets
HAYDEN, VACUSWEEP, VACULINE, VACUVALVE, SUPERVAC, and SUPERHOSE are trademarks owned by Canplas Industries Ltd.
- Install BUILDING WIRE CONDUCTORS (1) though the approved type electrical CONNECTOR (2) (supplied) until they protrude approximately six inches from connector. Seat connector firmly into the opening atop the WIRE COMPARTMENT (4). Insert and secure LOCKING TAB (3).
- Splice wires from INLET VALVE RECEPTACLE (7) to the protruding building wire conductors with #31 TWIST-ON WIRE CONNECTORS (8) (not supplied). NOTE: White wire to white wire and black wire to black wire.
- Feed LOW VOLTAGE RELAY WIRES (5) through opening in the LVT COVER PLATE (6) and connect to the two contact screws of INLET VALVE FACE PLATE (9).
- Push Inlet Valve face plate (10) into MOUNTING PLATE (11). At the same time, push ELECTRICAL CONDUCTORS (12) and connectors (8) into WIRING COMPARTMENT (4). Back out the two screws that hold the wiring compartment in place. Slip upper FINISHED WALL CLIP (13) under the screw heads and tightly fasten both wiring compartment and upper finished-wall clip(13) with MOUNTING SCREWS (supplied).
- Install the lower FINISHED WALL CLIP (14) with screws (supplied).
- Secure Inlet Valve face plate (10) to mounting (11) using the two supplied color matched SCREWS (15).
After pipe, low voltage relay control wire, electrical building wires and opening in wall have been cut;
- Remove mounting plate NAILING FLANGE (16). Use a hack saw or score with a razor knife along dotted line and snap off.
- Repeat step one (from New Construction)
- Install modified mounting plate with short 90 degree elbow glued in position into wall opening.
- Repeat steps 2-6 (From New Construction)
Beginning The Trunk Line
Central Vacuum Tips
Locate the exact path of your pipe network. Network the pipe as short as possible, as short and direct as possible. Reasonably short, but not just to save money.
Start with the inlet line that is farthest from the power unit. Place 90 degree elbow onto a section of tubing and align it with the inlet tubing at the height it will run across the attic joists. Mark the inlet tubing where the elbow will join, allowing 5/8" for the tubing that inserts into the fitting's collar.
Now, cut the inlet tubing at the marked line. Make sure the cut is straight and even. Attach the elbow and check its fit. Then insert the first section of tubing into the other end of the elbow.
Connecting A Branch Line
A branch line connects the inlet line to trunk line. Attach a 90 degree elbow and run tubing from the inlet line to the trunk line. To align and measure the branch line, attach a 90 degree Tee fitting to the trunk line. Make sure the Tee connects with the air flow going toward the power unit. Align, measure, and mark the branch line for inserting it into the Tee fitting. Then, cut the branch line to length and insert it into the Tee. Check to make sure the cut is straight and even. Connect the next section of the tubing to the out-take side of the Tee fitting. Continue the trunk line until you come to another branch line junction point.
Completing The Trunk Line
Continue to run the trunk line toward the power unit, connecting all branch lines as you go along. Again, make sure you connect all fittings with the air flow toward the power unit. Bring the trunk line to the access hole you have drilled for the power unit's intake tube. Place a 90 degree elbow over the hole and cut the trunk line to fit into this final elbow. Allow 5/8" of tubing to fit into the elbow's collar.
Connect the elbow to the trunk line so that it aligns over the intake access hole. You will make the intake tube connection itself after you have installed the power unit. When you are satisfied that all fittings and tubing are aligned for maximum air flow, make sure that all your cuts are square and that all joints are tight. Then, prepare the tubing and cement.
Please Note: Avoid The Following Installation Variations!
These unwise methods trap dirt.
Also, this will slow down the airflow and accumulate debris fallen by gravity into vacuum valves installed lower than the main line.
Assembling A Basement Trunk Line
Basically, the tubing network is assembled the same way for a basement installation. Begin the trunk line at the farthest inlet line from the power unit. Measure and cut the inlet tubing to the length required to align the trunk line with the joists or ceiling. Cement the inlet tubing and connect at the 90 degree elbow. Make all branch line connections in the same way you would an attic installation. Make sure that all branch lines enter the trunk line at an angle that is at least level with the trunk line. Make sure all the fittings are oriented so the air flows toward the power unit. Complete the trunk line to the power unit location.
For Underground Tubing
If the tubing is to be buried underground, dig a trench 12 to 18 inches deep along the side of the house. Fully assemble and test the tubing and low voltage wire before filling in the trench. It is recommended that the low voltage wire installed outside be encased in conduit which is available at most hardware stores. If the tubing is to run under the eaves, the tubing must be supported by pipe straps at least every 6 feet. On vertical sections, carefully snap-tie the low voltage wire behind the tubing.
The Longest Run of Tubing
Excessively long tube runs can affect performance. Therefore, the length of tubing running from the exhaust location to the furthest inlet valve from the power unit should be no longer than that recommended on the Model Selection Chart.
Connecting Low Voltage Wire
Ideally, you will run the wiring and make all the wiring connections after you have completed the tubing system. Of course, the inlet wiring must be run at the time the inlet tubing is threaded though the walls.
Run the low voltage wiring along the trunk line; at approximately 12" - 18" intervals, use electrical tape to secure the wire to the tubing. Then, run wiring along the branch lines from the inlet lines to the trunk line. Also secure this wiring with electrical tape.
At the joint of the inlet line and branch line, make a two-wire connection. Use wire nuts to make the connections and insulate each connection with electrical tape.
At the junction of every branch line and the trunk line, cut the trunk line wire and connect it to the branch line wire. Connect this wiring in groups of threes - one branch wire, one in-coming trunk line wire, and one out-going trunk line wire. Insulate all wire connections with electrical tape.
Complete all wiring connections up to the power unit's intake access hole. You will make this connection when you mount and connect the power unit. If, for some reason, you want to connect the wire as you go along, make the same two-wire and three-wire connections where required.
Secure Wire To Tubing
The low-voltage power wiring is run along with the tubing. To make sure the wire is secure and will not hang-up in the wall, use electrical tape to attach the wire to the tubing.
Using Flexible Tubing
Flexible tubing may be used to circumvent an obstacle or to make a difficult turn. Attach this tubing to the PVC tubing, cementing only the outside of the PVC tubing as you would for a hard-fitting connection. Whenever you use the flexible tubing, you must secure both ends of it with support strapping.
Making A Joint
Insert the tube into the fitting, aligning the two parts as they will be installed. Mark the tube and the fitting so that you can quickly realign the joint.
Apply cement only to the outside of the tube. Dab the cement generously in an inch-wide band. Insert the tube into the fitting with the alignment marks a quarter turn apart, and then quickly push and turn the fitting to align the marks and spread the cement. Allow one minute for the joint to dry. You may also use electrical tape or duct tape to further seal the joint.
Cutting & Gluing Tubes & Fittings
When sizing tubing, measurements should be taken from the base of the pipe located on the inside of the fitting hub. As each section of tubing is cut, it should be dry fitted before the next measurement is taken.
Cutting The Tubing
The tubing should be cut as straight and square as possible. Rough edges must be removed with a utility knife or sand paper.
Once all the pieces have been cut they should be dry fitted to check for correct fit and measure. The markings on each fitting can be used for alignment.
PVC cement actually welds the fittings to the tubing. A chemical reaction permanently joins the molecules from each surface to produce an airtight seal. Before cementing, both tubing and fitting must be absolutely free of PVC burrs, dirt and grime. Components should be wiped with a clean cloth when necessary. Cement should be applied liberally, but to the TUBING ONLY. Cement applied to the fitting will be pushed ahead and create a rough bead on the inside of the fitting. Beads reduce air flow and could cause clogs. The tubing should be inserted all the way into the fitting and twisted a quarter of a turn to distribute glue evenly. Excess cement should be wiped away with a rag. Glue should be allowed several hours to set before the vacuum system is used for the first time.
Please note... leakage is the most common installation error. We find leaks in over 50% of incorrect installations. A single leak can cause a 15% - 20% suction loss. Can you trust your installer to perfect the installation? Hopefully the installer is qualified and knows what he is doing, but what about his "side kick" who helped him that day? Leaks in a system from a bad install result from elbows and fittings not being glued properly, pipes not being secure enough, missing gaskets on mounting brackets, etc. You can only hope your installation was done right and you don't have to worry about these scary thoughts. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and we come across a lot of problems stemming from not so perfect installs. I know some of these problems may seem far fetched to some people, but we deal with it regularly, not to mention we are sticklers for perfection! As a do-it-yourselfer, please remember to dot your i's and cross your t's and really make this a well thought-out process. Like the saying goes, "measure twice, cut once" really applies here. You want to install your central vacuum correctly the first time. You can always call us at Thinkvacuums.com for technical support.
Over time dirt and debris build up in the pipes which can reduce your suction by up to 6%, and inlets also warp. For all the above reasons and more we highly recommend doubling your square footage and selecting a larger vacuum unit. If you're unsure of what size central vacuum you need, contact our customer service at 1-800-322-2965.
For an existing installation
You will need access to the studs either through an attic or basement entrance location. Tubing can be inserted between the studs from both of these locations. Some retrofit installations run the trunk in an attic and come down into the house inside a closet. The pipe is run inside a closet wall and then put through the walls to reach the room where you want the inlet.
Excessively long tube runs can affect performance. Therefore, the length of tubing running from the exhaust location to the furthest inlet valve from the power unit should be no longer than that recommended on the Model Selection Chart. Tubing and low voltage wire should be run in tandem to each valve location, speeding installation time. Both are installed beginning with the inlet valve farthest from the unit.
The Ranch Style House
Here the power unit is mounted in the garage. The intake and exhaust tubing, the only exposed tubing in the installation runs up the garage wall and into the attic. The trunk line runs horizontally through the attic from the power unit to the furthest inlet location. Branch lines spread throughout the attic, connecting the trunk line to the inlet tubing. Each inlet tube is threaded vertically through and inside wall. Located in hallways, and in large rooms, the inlets are placed to provide maximum access to all cleaning areas.
The Two-Story House
A double-trunk line system is commonly used in two-story houses. The intake tubing runs up the basement wall and connects to the main trunk line, which runs along the unfinished basement ceiling. Two first-floor inlets are connected to the basement trunk line by vertical inlet lines run through interior walls. In the center of the house, a vertical branch line runs from basement trunk line, through stacked closets, up into the attic. A second trunk line runs across the attic and two branch lines connect to inlet lines which are dropped down through upstairs interior walls.
The Split-Level House
Like the two-story house, the split level installation commonly calls for a two-level trunk line. Here, the power unit is located in the garage. The intake tubing runs exposed up the garage wall and into the ground level section's attic. Two branch lines connect this part of the trunk line to inlet lines which are dropped inside interior walls. A vertical branch line runs to the upstairs attic, where the trunk line branches into a T-shape. This trunk line connects to two upstairs inlet lines and to one inlet which drops though an upstairs wall and down into the third-level utility room to services this entire level.
NEVER USE SCHEDULE 40 TUBING PLUMBERS TUBING ON A CENTRAL VACUUM INSTALL!
The 2" central vacuum tubing is different in size and quality from plumbing grade PVC piping. Central vacuum tubing is 2" OD and is manufactured with a smooth interior to prevent the tube system from catching and collecting dirt particles and building a clog. Central Vacuum manufacturers and industry professionals do not recommend the use of schedule 40 plumbing PVC for central vacuums.
The most important decision when buying a central vacuum is the core of the central vacuum system, which is the vacuum unit itself, which is typically located in the garage, basement or utility room. We recommend the best power based on the size of the home, the longest run of tubing and the number of inlet valves. When choosing a built-in central vacuum system, the process begins with the power unit. Power units vary in size, motors, separation techniques, and filtration methods. All these elements directly affect the overall performance and cleaning power of any central vacuum system. When choosing a central vacuum unit, the industry standard recommendation is to take the square footage of your home and double it, then choose the unit that's right for you in that range. For larger sized homes from 10,000-15,000 sq. ft. or above, we recommend 2 separate central vacuum units, located side by side, which basically divides your home in half so each half receives the full potential power of the individual unit.
Central Vacuum Power Unit Location
In selecting the Power Unit Location, the following points should be carefully considered. Install the Power Unit as far away from the living area as possible, so that normal activities can be carried out without any disturbing noise that might emanate from the Power Unit while vacuum cleaning is in progress. An ideal location for the Power Unit would be the garage, where the unit's Inlet Valve will serve well when you wish to vacuum you car and the exchange of the filter will be easily facilitated. Other suitable locations can also be found in a basement, basement crawlspace, furnace room, under a weatherproof sundeck, laundry room, carport or any ventilated storage area.
The Power Unit is an electrical appliance and it's location should be near an electrical power outlet. If there is no existing outlet available, a separate grounded circuit should be installed. Be sure to never overload the circuit! Check the unit's specifications for proper power supply requirements.
Installing of Power Unit
The power unit is screwed to the wall with the bottom screws of the mounting bracket about 48" up from the floor to allow convenient removal of the dirt canister. For proper motor cooling there must be at least 8" between the unit and the ceiling. If mounting on plaster or panel walls, be sure mounting bolts enter studs. If mounting on concrete wall, drill the wall with a masonry bit and insert plastic or lead anchors. As an alternative mounting on concrete walls, 2" x 4" studs or plywood may be suspended from overhead. With the power unit mounted, strip the low voltage wire and crimp into two "slip-on" terminals provided. Connect the main tube line to the intake valve on the unit. Do not cement this connection in case you wish to remove at a future date. For top loading units follow directions provided with unit.
Remember: Central vacuums must have room to breathe...
DO NOT ENCLOSE!
Exhausting The Central Vacuum Power Unit
Join tubing to the power unit's exhaust line and run the exhaust to the outside. The exhaust should not be vented into a wall, a ceiling, or a concealed space of the house. The best way to exhaust the power unit is directly through an exterior wall. You can also run the exhaust tubing though the attic to a roof vent.
How to Vent Your Central Vacuum System
If you choose to exhaust the power unit outside, the length of tubing used should be no longer than 15 feet. Click for more information on exhausting central vacuums.
Central Vacuum - Vacuum Leakage Test
If the installation is done professionally, and all these procedures duly followed, it should not be necessary to run a vacuum leakage test.
Use a piece of wire to short-circuit the low voltage connectors at the power units side. When all the pipes are capped, and all the vacuum valves are closed, there should be no air coming out after 10-15 seconds. If there is still lots of air coming out, there is a leakage.
The power unit may overheat if the pipe is clogged for more than 30 seconds.
Central Vacuum - Final System Check
Be sure all inlets are closed and soil bag is in place. Check switch on power unit for manual on/off operation. Check each wall inlet to be sure contacts activate the power unit when the hose is inserted. A short piece of wire can be used to short contacts in the wall inlet together to activate power unit. Check each wall inlet and tubing connection for air leaks. Check power unit for leaks around inlet tube and dirt receptacle.