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Installing Central Vaccum Systems in a Pre-Existing Home

Almost one-third of all central vacuums sold in the U.S. are installed in existing homes without tearing out sections of walls or ceilings. Retrofitting your home for a central vac system is surprisingly doable.

This would surprise many who simply shy away from installing one, after some light research.

Many homeowners don’t make the transition from bulky vacuum to installing central vacuum systems in their existing homes, because they fear that the installation process must be part of a full-scale renovation.

In actuality, almost one-third of all central vacuums sold in the U.S. are installed in existing homes without tearing out sections of walls or ceilings.

In fact, the entire installation process usually takes less than a day.

If you’re searching for better air quality and a convenient way to clean the home, then this is a often implemented solution. Even installing a shop vacuum system, for those who like to spend weekends out in the shop working on old cars. This is a realistic possibility.

Dirt and debris can get in the way of a relaxing weekend of projects in the garage, so a built in vacuum floor sweep would make sense.

When central vacuum systems are built into the home, they include three basic components:

  • A power unit that includes the system motor, filtration and a collection bucket is typically installed in a garage, basement or utility room and provides three to five times more cleaning power than a traditional vacuum

  • PVC tubing and wires are installed inside interior walls and between floor joists that connect the power unit to strategically located inlet valves.

  • A powered hose which can extend up to your desired measurements, and attachments plug into the inlet valves and activate the system.

The added cleaning power and the location of the motor outside the living area allow a central vacuum system to completely remove captured dust and allergens without blowing air into the living space during cleaning. As a result, installing a central vacuum system earns certification points under both the National Green Building Standards and LEED for Homes.

If you're interested in building or retrofitting a home to more eco-friendly standards, then this is an easy change to make to any building, be it a home or shop.

How To Plan A Retrofit Installation

An existing home installation should look like the house was built with a central vacuum system. This is the outlook that Coltrin always has. You’ll want the dealer to visually inspect the home before the installation to determine where to place the inlet valves in interior walls, where to place the power unit and the best route to install the tubing and wiring that connect the system.

Homes with unfinished basement ceilings, crawl spaces or attics allow for simple installation too.

When installed, the inlet valves cover approximately 600 to 700 square feet of the home; the average home of 2,400 square feet will only need four inlets, at the most. The inlets are installed in interior walls at the same height as standard electric plugs.

Each valve is accommodated with a small hole which is easily hidden when the valves are connected to the system by vacuum tubing inside the walls from below or above.

Like a power outlet, there’s a cover which makes it a clean installation.

The vertical tubing then is fitted to a main trunk line that is installed between floor and/or ceiling joists from a basement, crawl space or attic that connects to the power unit.

All the inlets in the home are tied into the one main line to assure the best suction possible and the least amount of tubing. Cover plates attached to each valve conceal all of the tubing and wire.

A thin, lightweight electrified hose is inserted in the inlet valves and activates the vacuum from a touch of the switch on the hose. One advantage of a central vacuum is that the homeowner can clean a room from top to bottom—floors, furniture, crown molding, ceiling fan and baseboards—without having to change inlet locations.

When finished, simply turn off the vacuum at the hose handle and hang the hose in the closet. The only maintenance for the central vacuum system involves emptying the system’s collection canister every three to four months.

This makes for little work, and is especially helpful for homes of the elderly or those with

limited mobility.

How Does A Central Vacuum System Work?

Much different than the Jetsons styled Electrolux vacuums of old, the central vacuum is great for those with multiple pets than act as their own dust collectors. Central vacuum systems are much quieter since the powerful motor and dust collection system is usually placed in an area like the garage or in a space rarely used. They are easy to use room to room, because of their portable nature.

The lightweight hose is basically all you’ll deal with as you move across the home.

Resale Value

Since the Central Vac is basically a futurist kind of appliance in of itself (although not the Jetsons kind), it naturally Increases the resale value of your home.

A central vacuum system increases the resale value of your home by approximately $2000.

Be sure to check out the rest of our products on the site at

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