How To Install Central Vacuum? Simple 11-Step Guide

Whether you hire an installer or do it yourself, you’ll first have to figure out where the vacuum inlets will be located. This will affect both the ease and cost of installation. This will help you maximize output and minimize noise.

Nevertheless, before cutting into a wall or floor, check for hidden electrical wires or plumbing/heating equipment. In addition, you may need to adjust your height based on your machine’s size, so please refer to your user manual.

Don’t worry; in this post, I will explain in detail how to install central vacuum in both new and existing homes without hiring a professional.

General Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Electrical tape and cable ties
  • Pipe cutter or hacksaw
  • Cordless drill
  • Screwdriver(s)
  • Wood-boring bit (2-1/2 in.)
  • Hammer
  • Stud finder
  • Hole saw (2-1/2 in.)
  • Utility knife
  • Wire strippers
  • Miter saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Flashlight
  • Chisel

Vacuum Line Supplies Needed

  • Inlet valve kits or faceplates
  • Vacuum tubing
  • Mounting Brackets
  • Short 90-degree elbows (2″ PVC)
  • 90-degree sweep elbows (2″ PVC)
  • 45-degree elbows
  • Sweep T’s
  • Stop couplers
  • Pipe straps
  • PVC primer and glue
  • Cable ties
  • Low voltage wire

Layout and Planning For Installing Central Vacuum

The Power Unit is permanently installed in the wall away from the living area and connected to the living room by in-wall tubing and fittings. For planning a new or existing installation, use the examples below. Adapt the measures shown in your specific home layout.

Ranch Style House

Here’s how to install a central vacuum system in a garage. During installation, only two tubes are exposed: intake and exhaust. The trunk line is connected to the inlet tubing through the attic to reach the furthest inlet.

Two-Story House

Two-story houses commonly use a double-trunk line system. Several vertical inlet lines run through interior walls and connect with the basement trunk line. Attic and basement trunk lines are joined by a vertical branch line running through stacked closets. Inlet lines are dropped down from the interior walls of the upstairs to a second trunk line.

Split-Level House

Split-level homes often require two-level trunk lines, just like two-story houses. Attics in the ground level section have exposed intake tubing. This trunk line has two branch lines that connect to inlet lines inside walls. The T-shaped trunk line branches vertically to reach the upstairs attic.

Apartment House

The tubing must travel elsewhere in homes with limited access below floors, such as apartment houses. Most often, tubing is run vertically behind cabinets, in closet corners, or boxed in at the corner of a room. The tubing can also be run horizontally in the attic and then dropped down into a closet or cabinet. Direct, short, and straight runs are best.

Related post: Central vacuum system cost with Installation & Repair

How to Install and Vent Central Vacuum Power Unit

Power units should be installed as far away from living areas so you can carry out everyday activities without being disturbed by sounds emanating from the Power Unit. 

Garages are ideal locations for Power Units since the Inlet Valve can be used to vacuum your car, and you can easily exchange the filter. In addition, you can place it in basements, crawl spaces, furnace rooms, sundecks, laundry rooms, carports, and any ventilated area.

Always try to install an electrical outlet near the Power Unit since it is an electrical appliance. Make sure you check the power requirements on the unit.

Installing the Power Unit

The power unit must be spaced at least 8 inches from the ceiling to ensure the motor is cooled properly. Mounting brackets secure the power unit about 48″ above the floor with screws.

On plaster or panel walls, ensure the bolts enter the studs. For example, you can use a masonry bit and plastic or lead anchors to mount on a concrete wall. Alternatively, you can use ceiling-mounted 2″ x 4″ studs or plywood. Afterward, connect the main tube line to the intake valve.

If you plan to remove the wire in the future, you should not cement the connection. You can instead crimp the low voltage wire into the two “slip-on” terminals.

Exhausting the Power Unit

Running exhaust tubing through walls, ceilings, or concealed spaces in the house is not recommended. It should be run directly through an exterior wall or to a roof vent in the attic instead.

How to Determine Wall Inlet Locations 

It doesn’t make sense to have too many vacuum inlets. Since the hose is long enough, most of them would never be used.

Accessible and convenient inlets are essential. Place your interior wall inlets centrally so that you can clean several rooms at once. Hallways, stairs, and doorways are some of the ideal locations.

You can use this method to find out where your inlets are located. You can tie a 30-foot string to a heavy object or have a helper hold the string. Attach the other end to a 3-foot stick (or the cleaning wand). Use the stick and string as a substitute for the vacuum hose and wand farthest from the power unit.

Ensure the hose loops around large furniture and reaches all surfaces and ceilings. You should not place the inlet behind an open door or on a wall where it will be blocked by furniture. This method can outline all your cleaning zones and locate all the wall inlets. If you need more inlets, you may need to try different locations.

Related post: How to fix central vacuum wall inlet?

How to Install Central Vacuum Tubing

For Underground Tubing

Bury the tubing underground in a trench 12 to 18 inches deep. Install tubing and low voltage wire in the trench and test them before filling them in. 

You should use conduits to encase low-voltage wire installed outside. Support pipe straps at least every 6 feet if the tubing runs under the eaves. In vertical sections, snap-tie the low voltage wire.

Beginning the Trunk Line

Identify your pipe network’s exact path. Make the pipe as short and direct as possible without sacrificing quality.

Initially, start with the farthest power unit inlet line. The inlet tubing will run across the attic joists at the height of the 90-degree elbow. Cut the inlet tubing at the marked line and attach the elbow. Check that the elbow fits, and then insert the first section into the elbow’s other end. 

Connecting a Branch Line

Using a 90-degree elbow, connect the branch line tubing to the trunk line. Cut the branch line straight and even before inserting it into the Tee fitting. Connect the tubing until another junction point is reached.

Completing the Trunk Line

A power unit must be connected to all fittings. Allow 5/8″ of tubing to fit in the elbow collar and cut the trunk line to fit into the 90-degree elbow. Place the elbow on the trunk line with the intake access hole. 

Make sure all joints are tight once you have aligned all fittings and tubes for maximum airflow. Next, prepare the tubing and cement.

Assembling a Basement Trunk Line

The tubing network for a basement installation is basically the same. Inlet lines begin at the farthest power unit. The inlet tubing must be cut to align with joists or ceilings. Glue the inlet tubing and connect all branch lines as you would in an attic.

Connecting Low-Voltage Wire

Power units in central vacuum systems are automatically turned on and off. Each power unit has an on/off switch activated by the inlet valves. Just insert the hose in the inlet valve to turn on the power unit.

Low voltage wire needs to follow a tubing system to facilitate this. You must use an 18/2 Low-Voltage Wire that passes all electrical codes in your area. Branches and trunk lines must be spliced together so that the inlet valves can operate independently. Ideally, you should complete the tubing system before running the wiring.

T-splicing and Looping are the two most common methods of wire splicing. Looping refers to joining low voltage wires together at their inlet valves, while T-splicing refers to connecting the low voltage wires at the Tees.

Attach the low voltage wiring to the tubing with electrical tape at approximately 12″ to 18″ intervals. Secure the wiring with electrical tape from the inlet lines to the trunk line.

Join the inlet and branch lines with a two-wire connection. To insulate each connection, use electrical tape and wire nuts.

Every time a branch line meets a trunk line, cut the trunk line wire and connect it to the branch line wire. Group this wiring in threes – one branch wire, one in-coming trunk line wire, and one outgoing trunk line wire.Wrap all wire connections in electrical tape. Connect all wiring up to the intake access hole of the power unit. 

Secure Wire to Tubing

Low-voltage power wiring runs alongside the tubing. To ensure that the wire doesn’t hang up on the wall, attach it to the tubing using electrical tape.

Using Flexible Tubing

You can use a flexible tube to make a difficult turn or to circumvent an obstacle. Glue only the outer surface of the PVC tubing to this tubing. If you are using flexible tubing, ensure that both ends are secured with support straps.

How to Join PVC Pipe Together

Align the tube and fitting as you go. The tube and fitting can be marked to realign the joint easily. Around the outside of the tube, apply cement generously in an inch-wide band. Make sure the joint is dry. Use electrical tape or duct tape to seal the joint further.

How to Cut and Glue PVC Tubes and Fittings

Measure First

To measure tubing, start measuring from the inside hub of the fitting. Dry fit each section of tubing before taking the next measurement. Make sure you measure twice and cut once!

Cutting The Tubing

If you want to cut PVC pipe to length, you can use a hacksaw or reciprocating saw. Trim the tube squarely and straight. You need to sand or use a utility knife or fine-grit sandpaper to remove rough edges.

Glue It Together

For an airtight seal, molecules from both surfaces react chemically when PVC cement is used to weld fittings with tubing. Before cementing, clean both tubing and fittings thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Only apply PVC cement to the pipe end, not the fitting. Keep the joint in place for 30 seconds. Wipe away excess cement with a rag. Allow several hours for the glue to set before using the vacuum system.

How to Install Central Vac Dustpan

When installing a central vacuum, dustpans are a very useful tool to consider. It is usually installed under a kitchen or bathroom cabinet and is called an under cabinet vacuum. The vacuum hose isn’t needed in small spaces to clean dirt, crumbs, and debris. A kick or your toes opens the port, allowing your central vac to suction.

During installation, make sure that vacuum pipe connectors are easily accessible to allow sweeping clean-ups.

A short 90-degree elbow at the inlet will maximize clearance. Do not glue the VacPan to the elbow. If necessary, use Teflon tape. Allow 1/2″ vertical play in vacuum piping at the dust pan’s location. Alternatively, you can use wire-reinforced flex pipes of two inches.

Price Range: $30- $70

Installing a DrawerVac

For DrawerVac to work, the cabinet interior dimensions must be 12″ wide by 22-5/8″ deep.

A minimum inside dimension of 12″ and 22-5/8″ is needed for the cabinet. For installation, DrawerVac needs a level surface. DrawerVac may also require trimming if installed in a drawer.

Mounting a DrawerVac

Use the two interior screw holes to mount the cover to the under-counter surface. Make sure the cover’s front edge is flush with the cabinet. Drilling or screwing through the countertop is not recommended.

DrawerVac Low Voltage Wiring

Insert the tray into the shell with 8 screws. You can use solid or flexible whole house vacuum piping to connect the central vacuum to the inlet. The low voltage wire must connect the two screws to the right.

How to Install Hide-A-Hose

In most homes, two Hide-A-Hose Inlets will cover all areas. Typically, retractable hoses are 50 feet long. But you can choose from 30, 40, 50, and 60 feet lengths.

By hiding a hose, you prevent the hassles of storing and carrying an oversized central vacuum hose, thus enabling you to vacuum faster and more easily. You no longer have to drag around a hose from room to room and go from inlet to inlet. New and existing homes with central vacuum systems can easily be retrofitted with Hide a Hose. 

Price Range: $100 – $300

How to Test Central Vacuum Installation

A vacuum leakage test is unnecessary if all these procedures are followed and the installation is done professionally, but it is always better to be safe.

Using a wire, short-circuit the low voltage connectors on the power unit. Or off the power unit. After 10-15 seconds, no air should come out of the pipes. Air is still coming out if there is a leak.

Close all inlets and place the debris bag. Manually turn on/off the power unit by checking the switch. Each wall inlet should activate the power unit when a hose is inserted. Make sure there are no air leaks at any wall inlets or tubing connections. Inspect the dirt canister and inlet piping for leaks on the power unit.

Final Thoughts

In this article, I attempted to provide every detail you need to know about how to install central vacuum system in your new or existing home. It is always recommended to seek out professional help if any of this is too challenging for you. Still, central vacuum systems remain one of the most cost-effective projects.

Many people avoid central vacuum systems because they think they are too complicated or difficult to install. In our opinion, things are different. Installing a basic central vacuum system is a matter of a couple of days.

Related Post: Can you install central vacuum after house built?

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