X-10 Home Automation | Web Site tricks & Tips | Personal Security Products
We have been installing vacuum systems since 1976. This document contains tips from our many years of experience.
To determine if a vacuum system can be installed in your home, you need to see to how to install it!
These tips are to be used to determine if a built in vacuum system can be installed in your home. Then if a vacuum system can be installed these tips will help you install it. Use it with Cana-Vac’s manual. You cannot install a vacuum system using information from this file only! You will need a PDF reader like Foxit or Adobe reader. I prefer Foxit it is a lot faster.
We do not want you to purchase a system and find that you cannot install it. So take your time checking your home before ordering.Go to this page to see photos of the vacuum system plumbing installed in homes under construction.
Once you have determent that installing a vacuum system is possible
maybe possible) you next need to decide where the power unit is to be
Next see find the placement of the inlets.
Once you have determined that you have paths from all the proposed inlet locations to the proposed power unit location you now know that a central vacuum can be installed in your home!
Where to put the vacuum system power unit?
In the garage, under the house, in closets, under stairs, utility room, attic, (not preferred you do not what to go up if not necessary, also attics are hot). It is preferred to mount it on a outside wall so the vibration and noise is less. Think about the noise it will make so do not mount it on a wall that is being shared with a bedroom for example.
Usually the vacuum unit is mounted in the garage.
Many homes with 2 or more floors have a room above the garage. The tubing can be surface run in the garage, to a floor inlet in second floor. Since the second floor in two floor home is usually smaller, one inlet in enough to cover the floor.
Be careful before opening walls! You can run the tubing on the surface wall or floor inside of a closet. Sometimes one can get the tubing to an attic or attic roof overhang to the second floor surface run in the garage. Plumbing walls, ducting wells and soffits can sometimes run from the basement to the top floor or from one part of the home to the other. In one home I pushed tubing through a plumbing "well" from the basement to the 2nd floor to get two vacuum inlets on the 2nd floor with one on the first floor at the bottom of the "well". Look for the furnace cold air return, there is usually empty space around the ducting. Use ducting, wiring or pipes, vents as a frame of reference to find out where walls are and access points are. (Do not run the tubing close to a hot vent or hot water pipe, it will melt. Do not run it outside it is thinned walled so it can soften and the plastic will get brittle in the sun.) Sometimes one can get the tubing to an attic or attic roof overhang to the second floor surface run in the garage. Of course blueprints of your home would be very helpful!
One of our customers was so determined to have a built in vacuum
hired a plumber to run 2" ABS plumbing piping on the "outside"
of a multi-story
If you use 2" ABS pipe, use a reamer in the vacuum tubing to taper the inside to eliminate any source of clogging since the air will go from the larger pipe to the tubing which is inside the pipe. Do not use any pipe or tubing smaller than 2"; it will have a tendency to clog and you will lower the airflow (CFM).Plumbers will use a larger pipe for the "
If your house has a concrete slab floor the tubing, cannot be run without opening the walls and/or running the tubing in the attic. If the walls are opened, running up to the attic works quite well since anything too heavy falls down to the inlet valve preventing clogging of the tubing. If you have an open beam ceiling with a slab floor home, it cannot be done at all,) except running it outside the walls and putting the inlets in outside walls.) I do not recommend this without construction experience and professional tools. If the open beam ceiling home is under construction, the piping can be put in the slab before it is poured. Have the plumber do this and use 2" ABS or PCV schedule 40 drain pipe. The vacuum tubing can be connected to the pipe coming out of the slab then run to the inlet. I have used the vacuum tubing in slabs with no problems but would not do it again, I got lucky that they were not damaged in the poring of the concrete or by stepped on my a worker.
2" ABS or PVC schedule 40 waste/drain pipe can be used to run
where it will be exposed to the heat like on the roof or underground to
detached buildings. This is not water pipe with tight (sharp)
is designed for waste with sweep fittings. As mentioned,
system tubing is 2" OD, it will fit in the 2" ID pipe. ABS to
PVC pipe is glued with the universal solvent that is designed to glue
In Cana-Vac's manual it tells how to install an
inlet in a
closed wall. This is not as easy as it seems. It is really
hold onto and glue face plate bracket to the tube, (especially if you
large hands.) Do not attempt this unless you have lots of time,
professional tool and experience with tools and construction. You
need to know what is in the walls. It is easy to drill through a
wire, like a phone line. You will not be able to predict were the
electrician decided to run wires. If you are lucky not to
hit a wire
or pipe while making the opening for the inlet you then need to keep
drilling the hole up from under the house directly below the opening
hitting any wires or pipes, electricians will nail the cable to the
where you will be drilling. So it is best not to install it
But if you really need to have the inlets in the walls, choose locations where the opposite wall is in a closet or cabinet. Remove a piece of sheetrock in the closet where it is not seen, and install the inlet in the opposite wall. Patches inside the closet will not be noticed. If you really need to have all the inlets in the walls and have an experience with sheet rock you can cut the sheet rock carefully, saving the piece of sheet rock removed, then installing the inlet and replacing the sheet rock. You need to have experience with patching and texturizing. I do not recommend this unless you are experienced in working with sheetrock. This will double the time it takes to install the vacuum system but can be done for all the inlets. Wood walls are a problem stay away from them. It is considerably easier and faster and less risky to install in the floor than trying to get the inlet in the wall with or without opening it. Inlets plates are normally mounted so the door is opened down. This puts the electrical contacts on top where they will not short out from accumulated dust. I have installed inlets to open up for customers with children since they will try to step on the down open inlets. This is fine but keep the inlet clean so the contacts do not short. It is possible to install inlets horizontal. It is more work since you have to mount a 2x4 horizontally for the bracket.
To keep the installation simple, plan on installing the inlets in the floor.
Floor mounted inlets
are quick and
basic experience and tools. Be careful with cutting and drilling in
carpet. Some types of carpet will “run" like a stocking. To find
directly below the proposed location, drill a small hole (1/6") and put
hanger, (painted so it is easy to see in the dark). To
your carpet get a 6" long 1/8 pipe, sharpen one end and drive it in the
after adjusting to avoid cutting anymore carpet then necessary.)
drill through the pipe. The pipe will protect the carpet from
caught in the drill.
When you are sure of the location (not over a beam or joice), cut a rectangle of the correct size (smaller than the outside of the face plate; see Cana-Vac’s manual) but large enough for the inside of the face plate. You can use a wide wood chisel to cut the carpet. Mark the rectangle with a ruler and a marker pen. Drill or use a reciprocating saw to make a hole in the floor, keeping the drill or saw from catching the carpet.
1. Electronic stud finder, to find studs for mounting the power unit. Also to determine if the wall is clear if you decided to install the inlets in the walls instead of the floor.2. Position locator. Used to find a position under a floor.
3. Hole saws. 2 9/16" is the best. If you have to drill in a tight space 2 1/4" is the smallest. This is for making a hole in a tight space. If it has to go more than 2x4 depth, you need a larger hole for some play to work in. Otherwise, you will find that drilling holes perfectly straight is not possible. Putting a 90 degree fitting on a tube at a slight angle is a pain, and if you do get it together, it will have a lot of stress on it and will probably leak.
4. Utility knife, for reaming out the tubing, cutting sheet rock.
5. Long small wood drill bit 1/16" to 1/4" for probing, and determining if it is clear under the proposed inlet site. A small hole will not show if the spot is not used. Be careful not to drill something like a heater duct, water pipe or ABS drainpipe. Look very carefully before drilling even the test hole. Pipes can be behind things like blocking and other supports and not visible.
6. Straightened coat hangers. To put in test hole and go under the house to see if the location is OK. Use white or another light color. Black is hard to see under a house.
7. For existing homes the inlets are installed in the floor. This only requires simple tools, 1/2" drill, and saber saw, to make a small hole in the floor.
8. Metal/AC locator. For avoiding drilling into metal pipes or wires, will not detect plastic pipe.
9. Rags and drop cloths for spills and messes.
Not much to say about this!
10. Square and level, to
make the face plates look nice and to mount the unit.
Consider Renting Professional like Milwaukee Right Angle drill, Milwaukee Hole Haug, or the equivalent in other makes. Reciprocating saw like Milwaukee or Porter Cable, Milwaukee self feed bits, 2-1/4" minimum to 2-9/16", drill extensions, 2-½” tubing cutter, tubing reamer. Also heavy duty ladders you do not what to fall down with a 30 pound drill!
For drilling concrete rent a 2-½” concrete hole saw and drill or an electric jackhammer. The less expensive way is to drill a bunch of holes and chisel the rest out, (if you have the time and arms).
For installing a vacuum in homes under construction, there is lots of drilling to do. Deep holes (over 4" or so) cannot be done without the stronger professional drills and the self-feed bits (unless you want to stop and take the plug out of the hole saw every couple of minutes). A home ½” drill can be burned out quickly installing a vacuum system in a home under construction. I take two boxes of tools on the job site and sometimes I need something I do not have! I cannot list all the tools you might need, especially installing in a house under construction.
Warning: Do not attempt to install a vacuum system in a home under construction without professional tools! These tools are needed for homes under construction since the holes have to be drilled into the 2x4's, floors and joices, sometimes 2 or three or four 2x4's together. I have even had to drill up through a 16" header; a 12" header is hard enough.
If you are building a home, have the general contractor or plumber drill the holes for you. You will still save money by installing it yourself even if a contractor does the drilling.
1. Electrical tape, white tape for visible tubing (near power unit); black will do for most of the installation.
2. Plumber’s strapping tape and large head nails, long roofing nails work best. Metal or plastic will work.
3. Scrap wire, for hanging the tubing temporarily while arranging it in and allowing the glue to set. Rebar strapping wire works great and is inexpensive.
4. Knee and elbow pads.
5. Flashlights and work lights, under the house the "head light works great".
6. Eye protection, to keep glue from dripping in your eyes while working under the house.
7. Hat and gloves, also to keep glue off your person.
8. Multipurpose solvent/glue if using ABS pipe with the vacuum system PVC tubing.
9. If you are sensitive to PVC solvent and ventilation is not possible, i.e. fan and/or open windows, you will need a filter mask. This needs to be a mask that can take out PVC fumes. Ask the salesperson in the hardware store.
10. PVC solvent/glue. Purchase the gray instead of clear. You can use clear for visible areas like to the power unit on surfaced run in closets or the garage. You can just look at your plumbing to see if it has been glued with the gray glue.
11. MEK, METHYL ETHYL KETONE. One
of the many solvents of
PVC plastic. It
will clean up spilled glue and thin thickened solvent. This is toxic
keep out of reach of children. MEK can be found in most hardware
Do not get in on your hands! If you get glue on your hands
working peel it off with soap and water, do not use the MEK. Wear
gloves when gluing
This document was written By Kevin E. West can be downloaded for
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