FAQ- Central Vacuum Cleaner

Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is a central vacuum system?

In a nutshell, it’s a permanently-installed, extremely powerful vacuuming unit. Dirt inside a home is collected with lightweight power hoses which attach to wall inlets; the dirt is then sent through tubes hidden in the walls to a collection receptacle installed in an out-of-the-way place (often a garage or basement). That’s also where the motor which powers the system is located.

Is a central vacuum system really that much better than ordinary vacuums?

Definitely. Central vacuums can be as much as five times more powerful than a standard upright vacuum because their motors are so much stronger. That extra suction allows the system to capture all of the dirt and dust in a room. By comparison, regular vacuums can’t pick up and hold everything; some dirt particles end up spread around the room or recirculated into the air, which is why you often see particles floating in the sunlight after you clean.

Central vacuum units also typically have advanced filtration systems which capture the allergens and pet dander that regular vacuums can’t collect, and eliminate the odors that standard vacuums leave behind. Tests have regularly shown that central vacuums remove 99.9% of all dirt and pollutants, far beyond the performance of a portable vacuum; and studies have shown that use of a central vacuum system can reduce symptoms of allergies while increasing the quality of a home’s air by nearly two-thirds. That means a healthier home as well as a cleaner one.

Isn’t that kind of system awfully noisy?

Since the central motor isn’t in a living area you probably won’t even hear it. The hoses and attachments used to clean rooms are built to minimize noise, so they’re usually quieter than a standard upright vacuum and about as loud as a clothes dryer.

Can’t I accomplish the same thing by just getting a much bigger vacuum than I have now?

Actually, if you could even find a “portable” vacuum with as much power, suction and filtration as a central vacuum system, you probably wouldn’t even be able to push it around the house.

Is a central vacuum easier to use than an upright or stick vacuum?

Much easier, because you don’t have to drag a heavy machine around behind you. All you have to move is one flexible and extremely lightweight hose (with the attachment you need for the job you’re doing at the time) which plugs into all of the inlets throughout your house. The hose is also built to prevent the kinking you often see with standard vacuums, and reinforced internally so that it can’t be easily damaged.

Will larger items that the hose picks up get stuck in the hoses inside my walls?

No. If an object fits through the wall inlets, it will go all the way into the collection container.

Are central vacuums mainly for cleaning carpet?

They do an excellent job on carpets, but all central vacuum systems come with a full assortment of specialized attachments for cleaning everything in your home, from hardwood floors and tile to upholstery and lampshades.

Are there bags to dispose of? How much dirt gets collected before I have to worry about emptying the container?

Some central vacuums are bagless while others give you a choice of whether or not you want to use a bag. The average collection canister can hold as much as ten gallons of dust, dirt and refuse so it only has to be emptied occasionally.

Does the system have to be vented outdoors?

Most units are installed with vents to the outside, but it isn’t required.

Does suction decrease as more dust is collected, like with my regular vacuum?

Not at all, because the dirt is collected in a completely separate unit. The suction remains constant whenever you use a central vacuum, and is as powerful far away from the motor as it is in nearby rooms.

If I use a cleaning service for my home, is it worth installing a central vacuum system?

Absolutely, especially if the service brings its own vacuums – because that means they’re also bringing dirt and allergens from other homes into yours.

If the motor and collection unit are in my garage, can I still vacuum in it?

Yes, either by having an inlet installed in the garage or by using the external valve that’s on most central vacuum units. That makes it easy to replace your shop vac for small jobs, and use the full power of the central unit to clean cars and boats inside the garage.

Aren’t central vacuums a lot more expensive than regular vacuum cleaners?

Yes, in the same way that a kitchen stove is a lot more expensive than a propane camping stove. You’d expect to initially pay more for a central vacuum system or kitchen stove than for a portable vacuum or camping stove – but you can’t even compare their performances.Just as importantly, the average home has four different portable vacuums (sticks, uprights, shop vacs) which regularly break down and need to be replaced.

A central system lets you get rid of all those traditional vacuums – and is permanent, eliminating frequent trips to Home Depot or the Internet to get a new vacuum when the old one breaks down. Over time, that can make the central vacuum a much cheaper alternativeFinally, a central vacuum is an extremely desirable feature in any home and will add substantially to the resale value of your house.