The most common question any DIY orientated person asks when it comes to Central Vacuum Systems (CVS) is: Can I do-it-myself?
We all know that anything can be done if you put your heart into it, but installing a CVS system is no easy feat.
If you are thinking about a Central Vacuum System and would like quotes from reliable, insured Trades people, click on the link. If you have decided to install your own system, most manufacturers will issue you with a manual and a step-by-step DVD. Make sure you ask for this.
When undertaking installing a CVS system you will have to expose timber studs in plasterboard (drylined) internal walls, lift floorboards and floor tiles and cut into ceiling areas. You will also need to know how to cut chases and electrical boxes into solid walls. You will therefore need to know how to reinstate these areas. Follow the links for more information.
It would be a lot easier to undertake installing a CVS system with a new build project or if you are having an extension built onto to your existing property as this makes access to wall and floor areas so much easier. But let’s say you are going to install a CVS into an existing property. You will need to plan the positions of your proposed vacuum wall outlets/plug in hose sockets.
Make sure your hose can reach all parts of your floor area (hoses can be purchased up to 15m long). If you can draw a roughly scaled floor plan of your property you can then use a scaled length of string to see if your vacuum hose will reach all areas of your room or proposed work area with the hose.
It is easier to install your CVS system using the internal walls which (depending on the age of your property) would normally be of stud/partition wall construction method. If not then you are in for a lot of cutting, chasing, and hammer and bolster work.
Laws have changed with reference to people with disabilities and the position height of sockets for access from wheelchairs, i.e. 450mm in height from floor level for power sockets and vacuum points (you will have to take this into consideration, it’s now law on new buildings).
In kitchens, you can have “toe-kick dustpans” installed, which are ducts cut into your under kitchen unit kick board so you can just brush your floor dirt towards it and it will be sucked away, you then just close the duct when finished. These are usually included in a full central vacuum system kit.
The most important part of installing a CVS system is planning, as it is in all DIY projects. Route your system through walls and voids making sure you do not cut through any load bearing timbers, existing cables or pipe work. If you can acquire any original drawings of your property to help you plan your runs of extractor pipe work, it would be a great help. If your walls are not easily accessible from below or above, you may have to consider boxing in your ducting. Keep your runs in the corner of your room this will make the boxing in easier and less intrusive to your room. Boxing in causes a lot less disruption but can be a little unsightly. Plan well!
You can also have flush floor plug in extractor sockets as well as wall sockets. These have a spring loaded lid to them so when not in use will always be closed.
When locating your extractor power unit, it is best placed in your garage or sound-proofed room. This just keeps any possible noise pollution down to a minimum when the system is running.
Make sure you install your vacuum unit onto an external wall. It will be easier to install your exhaust pipe to the outside of your property if your system requires it. It is always a good code of practice to make sure that the area where the vacuum unit is installed is well ventilated.
The longer the run of ducting, the more powerful your vacuum unit will need to be, so make sure you have not underestimated the size of your rooms. Again, good planning is the key. If you measure up the total run of ducting you can give this information to your supplier when purchasing your vacuum unit and they can inform you which model will have sufficient power for your home.
When installing your system start from the furthest usable vacuum socket from the extractor unit. Start working your way back towards the unit. You want to use the least number of 90° bends possible. This keeps the flow of air at its maximum and cuts down the potential for blockages.
Most ducting comes in 42mm diameter pipe or flexible hose with 90 degree, 60 degree, Y connectors, straight connectors, pan outlets (for kitchen kick board use).
Do this process in small sections. When you are happy with your short section of pipe work and you have completed a dry run you can then dismantle and glue each section properly in place. Then repeat, making the next short run of pipe work. Glue and fix until your system is complete.
Each of the wall inlets will have a low voltage power cable circuit which will need to be run back to the vacuum unit. When a pipe connector is placed into the outlet, it triggers the vacuum unit on, saving you much legwork running backwards and forwards.
A CVS is a huge time saving piece of technology and, with good planning and good DIY skills, is certainly achievable by self installation. They are also however, very expensive and the work needed to create room for the outlets and ducting is difficult. As is the reinstatement of the various parts of the home you have pulled to pieces. Make absolutely sure you have the skills required.
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards