Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Central Vacuuming

Image courtesy of thecentralvacuum.com
A central vacuum system is essentially a vacuum cleaner that’s semi-permanently installed into a building and connected to other rooms via ducts and tubes. Central vacuum systems are often compared to central air conditioning systems for the sake of analogy, their setup and utilization are very similar.
The main power unit of the appliance is typically installed in an out-of-the-way location like a garage, basement, or utility room. The system provides suction via tubes that connect to inlet valves installed in walls throughout the home. Tubing can run through the basement, attic, or cold air returns.  When it’s time to vacuum, you simply attach a portable vacuum hose to one of these inlets. Debris collects in a container typically located near the main unit. Power control is typically located on the handle of the power hose, so control is right there at the fingertips.
The concept was first introduced in the late 19th century as a bellows chamber most commonly installed in the basement and connected throughout the building via ductwork. These first systems were rare due to cost and were not very efficient.
It wasn’t until the early 1960s with the invention of PVC vacuum tubing that central vacuum systems became affordable in American homes. These systems achieved peak popularity in the 1990s for those with allergy concerns and also for adding value to a home on resale. Many of these systems release their exhaust completely outside the home, meaning dust and allergens cannot be re-circulated throughout the home as can happen with traditional vacuum cleaners, providing a very attractive prospect for those with allergy concerns.

There are two main types of central vacuum systems: Cyclonic and filtered. Each uses a different method to remove dirt and dust from the environment.
Simple Layout courtesy of builtinvacuum.com
As the name implies, filtered systems use filters and bags, often made from screens, foam, paper or cloth.  These must be cleaned or replaced regularly. They are often proprietary designs that may not be readily available.

Cyclonic systems suction air at high speeds to create a whirlwind of air that directs debris and dust downward into a collection bin. This bin detaches for emptying purposes.

There is a third hybrid system as well: This system combines both a basic cyclonic system for larger dirt particles, and filters & bags to remove finer particles.
Most standard central vacuum systems would come equipped with a 30 foot hose, and standard cleaning tools just like you’d expect with portable vacuum cleaners. When not in use, the hose stores easily, coiled loosely around a wire rack that can be mounted on a closet wall or on the back of a door. For multi-story buildings, optional extra hoses and sets of tools can be purchased for use on each floor, for further convenience.

The benefits of a central vacuum system include: 
No heavy lifting - The need to carry a heavy unit from room to room, up and down stairs is eliminated.
Power provided through the inlet - No plugging and unplugging in the search for the nearest electrical outlet as you vacuum from room to room. Plus no cords to trip over!
Cleaner air  - Risk of recirculating debris and allergens is reduced as they are deposited well away from living areas of the home.
Low maintenance - Little attention is required aside from emptying collection bins or replacing filters and bags. On average, central vacuum bags and canisters only need to be emptied once every three months.
Greater power - because the unit does not have to be portable, central vacuum systems are typically three to five times more powerful than regular vacuum cleaners.
Less noise - The noisy part of vacuuming is located in another room or basement, away from where the housework is being done. Pets will love you for it!

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