Build my own cabin - DIY projects

Central Vac Installation - Frequently Asked Questions


How difficult is a central vac to install?
Although it may not be quite as simple as installing a sprinkler system, a central vacuum system is really quite easy to install. It takes only one day or less for most homes.

What is the cost?
If you do it yourself, depending on the number of inlets and quality of vacuum, the cost will be between $400 and $2000.

When should I install?
The pipes and wiring should be installed before the drywall is up and as the electrical is finishing. You will want to protect the interior of the pipe at the mounted backing plates while the interior construction is being finished.

Can I install in an existing home?
These jobs can be quite easy! Central vacuum systems often use closets, soffits, return air ducts, pantries, basements, stud bays, and any other hidden spaces to run the pipe and wire.

How many inlet ports will I need?
A typical home needs approximately one inlet to cover 600 square feet of living space. One inlet in a hallway can access two or three bedrooms. Some modern homes only require one inlet in a central area to cover 1400 square feet.

Where do inlets go?
Place all inlets away from doors, furniture, front door entry, or other inconvenient locations. The small 2x4” hinged valves are typically put at the same height as the electrical outlets in the home.  Some newer systems, including hide-a-hose, allow you to put the outlets higher on the wall for more convenience.

What are kick-plates or automatic dustpans?
These are convenient vacuum ports available that turn on with your foot. Broom sweep debris over to the floor level vacuum inlet in a kitchen cabinet, for instance, and suction all the mess away without ever bending over. These inlets are the hardest to install but can bring a lot of satisfaction and save you a lot of work.

Can I have multiple users?
There is only one operator at a time for a vacuum unit unless you have a really powerful central vac. Installation of multiple power units is recommended for mandatory simultaneous users.

How do I cut and glue the PVC?
To avoid future clogs, cut the pipe with a tubing cutter (not a hacksaw!) and make sure to remove all edge cut burrs. Glue the male end only of the joint to prevent creating ridges inside the pipe connection.

Routing and connecting pipe runs?
Use sweep elbows throughout the pipe run (but use a tight elbow at the inlet valve) and always use (2) 45-degree bends for any offset jogs instead of (2) 90-degree bends. The main runs can be under the house or above in the attic. Minimize the amount of fittings whenever possible.

Wiring the central vac system?
110 volt inlets connect the 24-volt activation switch wire for the suction and a 110 volt connection in order to power an electric power brush nozzle. An electrician can easily connect these 110 volt wires to a nearby electric outlet. The two conductor 20-gauge (18-gauge if over 150ft) low voltage wire should be strapped or taped to the pipe every five feet all the way back to the power unit. It can be spliced to other runs along the way. Inlets without 110 volts only have the low voltage wire.

Penetrating a firewall?
Check local building codes regarding the necessity of a steel pipe or fire collar to penetrate the firewall if the power unit is located in the garage.

Exhausting necessary?
Check for manufacturer recommendations concerning exhaust venting. For dirty exhaust units, put the unit in an area which will not cause an exhaust mess. Systems with adequate filtration do not need venting.  Exhausting can really reduce the noise of a central vac in the garage.  Otherwise the vacs can be really annoying if someone is vacuuming in the house while you are trying to work in the garage.


Back to top - Central Vac Frequently Asked Questions

Central Vac Installation - Existing Home

Central Vac Installation

Central Vac Pipe Options (SCH40 vs Industry Standard)

Central Vac Installation Standards

Large Home Installation Tips

Central Vacuum Types and Reviews