Thread Number: 18001
Central vacuums..
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Post# 196609   8/21/2012 at 20:48 (2,786 days old) by Trebor ()        

As the power of central vacs has increased, and the cost has decreased compared to high-end vacs, I have become more interested in them as a viable alternative to portable vacuums. They are referred to as 'ducted' vacs elsewhere in the world, and I found one called vario-vac that has unique tubing that is flexible. At first I thought it was just larger diameter corrugated hose, but it is a more flexible form of the pvc tubing.


Since I do not care for emptying a bagless vac, I would prefer some kind of disposable bag or liner. 


MD used to offer a hose that was 20 ft with a 15 ft extension, which I thought was brilliant, but apparently it did not work out. Hose storage systems still require dealing with a long hose when fully extended. I would think a shorter hose and more inlets would be the way to go, along with maximizing things like the Vroom, Spot, and Wally flex. Instant clean up of the mess as it occurs. 


In a home with wall-to wall carpet say, only in the bedrooms, or only low pile carpet, a turbo brush, or straight suction tool should suffice. Very few of the systems offered outside of North America even offer electric power nozzles. Nearly all new construction in Canada is pre-plumbed for central vac.  What do they know that we don't?



Post# 196615 , Reply# 1   8/21/2012 at 21:23 (2,786 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

With people changing to hard flooring or natural stone flooring an upright isn't needed or practical. A central vacuum has more air flow and vacuum lift than even the top of the line canisters. No noise in the house as the unit is located in a basement or garage. Exaust air is ducted out of the house or at least has a filter on the exaust unit. Hence no dust emited back into the house like a water trap vacuum. Much easier to plug a 30 foot hose in a wall and pull it around unlike pushing an upright or pulling a canister. Very reliable machines and long life. For carpets you have a power nozzle like a canister and they perform very well.

I used a Beam central vacuum several years back and was VERY impressed by it. When the time comes that I have a place to install a built in unit and my Kirby no longer meets my needs. The next vacuum will be a built in. The unit had enough suction to hold a hard surface tool to the floor. I thought the floor had something sticky on it until I stopped the unit and pushed the tool across the floor with the unit off. The central vacuum had that much suction. I want one.

Post# 196617 , Reply# 2   8/21/2012 at 21:41 (2,786 days old) by Trebor ()        
I also like the Nilfisk...

they offer a RFC unit that eliminates the need for even low voltage wiring.

Post# 196618 , Reply# 3   8/21/2012 at 21:44 (2,786 days old) by vacu-finder ()        

some good points about central systems. the best advantage is having the unit in the garage where it expells the exhaust instead of inside the living enviroment.
i just don;t like dragging the hose out and hanging it up afterwards.
It's funny because people still have the old stand by like an electric broom amd probably use it more than the central vac.

Post# 196619 , Reply# 4   8/21/2012 at 21:44 (2,786 days old) by sbakerde (Millsboro, DE )        

Not to mention with the health benefits of a built in vacuum its an obvious choice for those with severe or even mild breathing problems. With the up rise of throw away vacuums I am finding many customers are tired of spending money on vacuums that cost more to repair than replace. Many consumers are started to search out reliable systems that require very minimal maintenance and central vacuums do fit the bill. Sadly the days of the good old Hoovers and Electrolux's are behind us. Very few companies still manufacture quality vacuums that will last through generations. Built in systems are still overall made to last for decades.

I have to add that with hardwood flooring becoming more and more popular a central vac is an easy and effective way to keep it clean. ( I do not understand how anyone could think a dust mop or swiffer actually cleans) My next house will be all hard wood for sanitary reasons and I will have central vac in it.

Post# 196621 , Reply# 5   8/21/2012 at 21:51 (2,786 days old) by bagintheback (Flagstaff, Arizona)        

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I have wanted a central vacuum since the day I heard about them. However, I have only been able to use one of these syestems twice. The first time was in 2007, and that was a late 1980's Beam with a turbine nozzle. My Dyson feels twice as powerful at the hose. The second time I used one was about five months ago, which was also a Beam. That thing was almost TOO powerful. The hard floor brush is much more difficult to push than on a portable, simply because of the airflow. I always thought the suction would be about the same as a high-end upright because of the many dozens of feet the air has to move, but no, they are so so much better. When I used the Beam with the RugMaster with a VGIII, I would not be hesitant to say that it cleaned better than a direct air upright.

I would love to own one, but with the way AZ houses are bulit accompanied with the high price, I don't think I will own one anytime soon. I think this is the same with most people who want one but don't have one. The price is just too high.

The other thing I hear often is that even when people own a unit, they still have something like an Oreck for daily use. I guess the hose is too bulky, even though that is my favorite part. I do hear this a lot on the Internet.

Post# 196625 , Reply# 6   8/21/2012 at 22:03 (2,786 days old) by Trebor ()        
There is a trick to handling the hose...

First, design the system around a 25 ft hose. (about the length of a cord) absolutely no more than 30 feet. That five feet makes a HUGE difference.

Second, do not skimp on the inlets. You should be able to clean up or down a staircase, and around a bed w/o piling the hose on top across it.

Third, hold the hose in a couple of loops and drop it as you work away from the inlet, and pick it up as you work back toward it.


It's different, but it it not difficult to do. Even a straight suction rug tool on a c/v does a good cleaning job, unless you are on thicker wall-to-wall carpet.

Post# 196670 , Reply# 7   8/22/2012 at 07:21 (2,786 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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A friend of mine had a house built about 4 years ago and her husband insisted they have central vac installed. It is a Nutone. To this day, she has not used it as whomever installed the outlets did not locate them in such a way that the hose could reach the furthest points in the house. Consequently the hose and attachments are stored away and she uses her Tristar and Electrolux vacuums.


Post# 196675 , Reply# 8   8/22/2012 at 07:50 (2,786 days old) by trebor ()        

I do not know what kind of warranty comes with the house but the builder should have compelled the sub who did the install to correct the situation and add more inlets.  I cringe when someone walks in and says "My house was pre-plumbed for a central vac" 

Post# 196676 , Reply# 9   8/22/2012 at 07:54 (2,786 days old) by trebor ()        

is paramount when installing a central vac.  The full array of spot, vroom, wally vac, sweep inlets makes a huge difference. No one ever complains after a proper install is complete.  The cost is forgotten as the tiny messes of living are swirled away in seconds by the constant indefatigable suction.

Post# 196678 , Reply# 10   8/22/2012 at 08:23 (2,786 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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I lived in a house with central vac and although I can't deny that the suction was great, I hated having to carry the hose to store it away. I know that today there are automatic retracting hoses, etc. but I still prefer a canister vac. There is just something about hearing the vacuum right beside me that I like :-)


Post# 196691 , Reply# 11   8/22/2012 at 10:46 (2,786 days old) by kirbykid (Horseheads,New York 14845)        

i have had only one problem with central vacuums. i currently use it as my daily driver with my kirby g4 on the rugs. the hose always scratches up the paint on the walls. so we bought a protective covder that is suposed to work. well it did but while you are draging it, it picks up a bunch of dirt and spreds it all over. and im not to happy with the turbine powerd nozzle. i havent tried the new one yet because my kirby works great with the rugs. if you do get one, get the upgrade that stores the hose in the wall and make shure it has an electric pn. oh and then i dont know if the fixed this or not, get a hose that wont scratch the walls.

Post# 196707 , Reply# 12   8/22/2012 at 13:27 (2,785 days old) by trebor ()        
The hose that stores in the wall...

only solves the storage problem, it exacerbates the long hose in use because it uses a longer hose. The hose storage inlets are VERY expensive. It would take longer to store a 50 ft hose in the wall, and get another 50 ft out of the wall, than it would to just unplug and re-plug a 25 or 30 ft hose.  Correct hose handling technique will eliminate the wall scratching. I'd rather handle a 30 ft hose than lug a vacuum with the cord.

Post# 196744 , Reply# 13   8/22/2012 at 15:40 (2,785 days old) by kirbykid (Horseheads,New York 14845)        

well ya i mentioned it because of storage, with mine it is a pain in the but to store. and some one said that you could stop it at different lenghths so if you have some crumbs that you need to clean up and they are relayivly close to the wall outlet, you dont need to get the entire hose out.

Post# 196746 , Reply# 14   8/22/2012 at 15:51 (2,785 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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I have a central system in my home but will say I hardly use it. It was installed by the dealer for the prevous owner and has insane amount of suction, Its uses two twin motor tripple stage vacuum motors hooked up in air parallel for great lift ( 3 stages ) and great airflow ( air parallel ). My one uses a debadged filterqueen powernossle and has a 10meter hose. There are outlets every were and it hase the kitchen skoop ( we use this ) and the outlet in the laundry we use allot. 


I think it comes down to user preference, If I had a canister vacuum with a pn as my only other vacuum then I would use the central vac but I simply prefer uprights and much prefer my light weight dc42 to move around the house than the central vacuum. WE also live in a real home so there is lego and other toys  on the floor and I have had to go digging in the central vac once for a piece and never again



Post# 196759 , Reply# 15   8/22/2012 at 16:47 (2,785 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

I used a central vaccum with the hide a hose. It had a Dirt Devil vacuum unit attached to it. I was not impressed by the hide a hose. That hose is about half the diameter of a standard hose and the air flow thru it seemed kind of weak in my opinion. As for the hose damaging walls. I would vacuum like I was using an upright. Vacuum from farthest end the cord/hose can reach back to the outlet.

I do agree that inlets need to be placed close enough that you don't have to streatch the hose or drape it over furniture. That can be solved at the install time by making it clear that you want more outlets. As far as cost is concerned it is no different than buying a high end upright or cansiter vacuum. the cost over a 15 to 20 yr period will come out to less than purchasing a good mid priced vacuum several times over in the same time frame.

Post# 196833 , Reply# 16   8/23/2012 at 07:14 (2,785 days old) by sbakerde (Millsboro, DE )        
I like the shorter hoses

My great grandmother had a NuTone system with the old 23 foot hose from the early 90s and the Eureka made power head to go with it, I really liked using her system. The hose was just the right length to clean the entire house without issue and it was easily managable due to the shorter length. She also had enough inlets installed that you didn't need to stretch the hose to get into the far corners. It was a simple yet very easy to work with configuration. Though I didn't care much for storing it away as she kept her hose stored in a laundry basket rather than hanging on a hose hanger in the closet.

Post# 196835 , Reply# 17   8/23/2012 at 07:27 (2,785 days old) by Vinvac (Dubuque IA)        

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Not a central vacuum fan.

My sister has a unit and the funeral home I used to work for installed one.

About a year after the one at the funeral home was installed the installer came back to do an annual service and he commented to me, wow you take good care of the unit, not much dirt anywhere...I said, that is because I don't like and don't use it. I bring my vacuum from home. He was appalled. He asked me what I used and I told him a Kirby. One being from 1947...he was amazed.

I forget the brand name of the unit but it had a Turbo Cat powerhead, that when ever you used it the smallest flower stem would stall the brush roll. With all the chairs in the rooms, it was a nightmare with all that hose. Plus the canister was in the basement, bagless and a mess to clean.

I would bring my mom's 508 Kirby or my Ultimate G and either would out clean the central unit with half the effort.

My sister has a unit in her new home, as everyone has talked about here, the hose doesn't reach where it needs to, again she has the turbo cat powerhead, a waste of time. Hers also stalls if something gets picked up like a bread wrapper tie. Lugging all that hose, getting it out putting it away...just isn't fun.

Her carpets looks much better when she uses her Oreck XL21 and it is amazing how fast the bag fills on that machine when she uses it getting dirt the central unit left behind.

Central Vacs do have good air flow but most of them are to strong and seal themselves to the floor preventing good air flow. If a central unit has a good electric power head, then perhaps I would have a better opinion, but both I have used, I did not like.

I should have weighed the hose to the central unit, my guess is it weighed more than my moms 508.


Post# 196857 , Reply# 18   8/23/2012 at 08:12 (2,785 days old) by trebor ()        
The installation is everything...

Too often the C/V is installed by another craftsman, who might be very competent in his field, but knows nothing about vacuums.

I think, unless the open space is too far for a 25 ft hose to reach, that should be the length around which the system is laid out.  In the newest hoses, 25 ft is rather light, even with an electric coil.


I repaired a Turbo Cat for a customer who also purchased a Stealth kit. I tested the T/C on a Miele S4 Neptune, and it really screamed, even on the plush (thick, but medium height).  More inlets are better. Shorter hoses are better. Unfortunately, my home is 127 yrs old. Balloon construction, plaster and lath, 1& 1/2 storey.  My dream house has a central vac.  I like the quietness, the tremendous suction and airflow, and the total removal of all particles from the living area.

Post# 196955 , Reply# 19   8/23/2012 at 19:46 (2,784 days old) by luxman107 (USA )        

I had a centralux system put in a year and a half ago. Went with centralux because I really like Electrolux tools.. It's a good system but as mentioned the hose is cumbersome, it does scratch the walls and base boards going around corners if you are not careful. On the plus side, it makes above the floor cleaning super easy, it is powerful and it is really quite. I always have music on in the house, especially when cleaning and it is not drowned out by a vacuum. If I had to do it over again I would probably just get another canister, lux of course:)

Post# 196972 , Reply# 20   8/23/2012 at 22:15 (2,784 days old) by vacu-finder ()        
Central hoses

I have been in a few homes using central vacs. I can tell you this the hoses get dirty and eventually the walls, furniture and base boards get marked up from the hose.

Post# 196989 , Reply# 21   8/24/2012 at 00:04 (2,784 days old) by chan55 (Green Bay, WI)        
central vac

had it, sold the house, miss it, loved it

Post# 196996 , Reply# 22   8/24/2012 at 01:17 (2,784 days old) by pdub ()        

I have the Vacuflo system in my house. I really do like it for when I'm going to vacuum the whole house. I have a hose for upstairs and a separate one for downstairs. The suction is great and the power is unbeatable. The power unit is mounted in the garage and has an outlet for cleaning the car, etc.

Don't get me wrong though, I still love my vintage vacuums and manage to use them all.


Post# 197000 , Reply# 23   8/24/2012 at 02:42 (2,784 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

My expereinces with central systems is mixed.The long cumbersome hoses are just plain awkward.and yes--you have to be careful before you pull on the hose to get into that corner.You may trip a sidetable with that expensive lamp on it!Can't have that crashing to the floor now,can we-and then its another mess to clean up.with the filtration of portable machines getting better and improved-just don't see the advantage of the central unit in that case.And love most central vacuum demos--the canister is hanging on the wall of the shop-and connected by a short hose.Yes,indeed,the most powerful canister out there if you can use it that way---BUT and of course the quality of the piping and outlet installation-the power of the central is no longer there-lots of loss and air friction thru all of that plumbing-esp over the years the system is used.And---I HATE bagless central units-HORRIBLE things to empty and clean.the bagged ones are so much better and easier.I'll stay with my portable machines.The centrals can be fun,though.Liked using my Moms.

Post# 197076 , Reply# 24   8/24/2012 at 12:06 (2,784 days old) by filterqueenman (Park City UT)        
Yeah I am a fan of CVS

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In our home in DC when we rebuilt the home I had a central system installed and loved it after a learning curve. A CVS does take some getting use to that I agree, but once you learn how to work with it they are amazing.

I had an Astro System installed with a Wessell Werk kit. The hose was 35' and I did not find it cumbersome. The electric power nozzle did a great job as did all the tools my favorite was the floor brush!

Installation is key. The house was 4100sqf and 3 inlets on each floor. Also the dust pan feature in the kitchen and mud room.

I too was frustrated with dog hair getting dragged around by the hose. Simple fix is I start at the inlet and work out so the hose is dragging on a clean floor. That for me was the key. Once I had that down, the rest was easy. I had no problem reach the ceilings and dusting everywhere as the outlets had been installed to account for that.

Here is the power unit. Compact unit that is bagged. Very quiet, Partner could work in the garage without going deaf. I wish more then anything we could have had one installed here in Park City but simply was not feasible.

The big plus is no dust or smells at all!

Post# 197077 , Reply# 25   8/24/2012 at 12:08 (2,784 days old) by filterqueenman (Park City UT)        
CVS Wessell Werks Kit

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This was the tool kit that came with the Astro System.

Post# 197094 , Reply# 26   8/24/2012 at 13:21 (2,783 days old) by kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

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My Aunt and Uncle have a Electrolux Central vac in their home. My Aunt tripped over the hose not once, but twice and broke her elbow. The kids talked her into putting the hose out in the garage and use a Hoover Wind tunnel.

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