Tips and hints for your central vacuum system

After thousands of installations in new and existing homes and thousands of services we have seen it all. Below are some frequently asked questions about central vacuum systems in New Zealand. If you have a question and it is not listed below, please get in contact with us (phone or email). We are always happy to help.

Please note that we will not and cannot be held liable for any losses or damages suffered from your use of the below information / frequently asked questions. This information is general in nature. Please note that repairs to the power unit should only be undertaken by qualified trades people.

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Tips and hints are general only

How often should I have my central vacuum serviced and / or filter changed?

Each manufacturer will usually have a recommended period for a service or filter change. Our experience is a service and a filter change every 3 years will maximise the performance of the system. A clean filter ensures that the motor is not under pressure, there is maximum suction in the house and sufficient air passes through the motor to help cool the motor.

Do central vacuum systems get blocked?

If installed properly, central vacuum systems rarely get blocked. This is due to the gentle bends that are installed in your home (which is why it is important to have experienced installers). Also because the diameter of a central vacuum hose nozzle is 32mm, the hose is 35mm and the pipes are 50mm, if you can vacuum it up with the hose, it will make it to the dust bin at the unit.

Where does a central vacuum system usually get blocked?

We find that most blockages occurs either in the hose (as the hose is rippled) or within around 30cm of the inlet (due to the way the inlet is installed if done properly).

How do you clear a blockage?

As noted above, blockages are very rare. However if you do have a blockage, there are a number of tricks you can try. In our experience, the below steps will clear 95% of blockages.

  1. Have a look if there are any blockages in the floor tool or the wand. If so, clear these blockages.
  2. Check if the hose is blocked by using a portable vacuum to pull air through the hose. You can do this by inserting the portable vacuum hose at one end and see if the hose has suction at the other end. If there is no air passing through the hose then the blockage is in the hose.
  3. If the hose is blocked then the blockage is usually in the handle or at the other end of the hose (called the cuff end). Remove blockage by taking the handle apart or using a long handle inserted into the hose to dislodge any blockages.
  4. If the hose is ok but the system still blocked, insert the hose into the inlet that is blocked. If multiple inlets are blocked then go to the furthest inlet that is blocked.
  5. Hold your hand over the end of the hose and turn the vacuum on
  6. Hold you hand over the nozzle for 5 seconds while the machine is running and then release your hand. A large volume of air quickly passes through the hose and pipes and often unblocks the vacuum. You may have to repeat this up to 5 times to clear the blockage.
  7. If the pipes are still blocked then go to the inlet that is blocked (if multiple inlets are blocked then go to the furthest inlet that is blocked). Insert the hose from a portable vacuum and try and suck out the blockage at the inlet using the portable vacuum.

The system has low suction. What could cause this?

The issue will likely either be a old/clogged filter, a blockage (see above) or a leak in the pipes. To check if there is a leak in the pipes, turn the machine on for a few seconds without inserting the hose and put your hand over the exhaust / muffler. If a lot of air is coming out of the muffler / exhaust then there is likely to be a leak in the pipe. If there is no leak or blockage then you will likely require a service and filter change.

I can no longer turn the machine on at the hose. I have to go into the garage to turn the machine on. What is the likely problem?

The issue will be either with the hose or the PC board in the system. The best way to determine the problem is by inserting the hose into the inlet and then turning the hose end 90 degrees in the inlet. This ‘short circuits’ the vacuum system and the motor should start. If it starts then the issue is a damaged hose. If the machine does not start the issue will be either the wiring in the house, a faulty inlet valve or the PC board.

One of my inlets is not working. How can it be fixed?

If one inlet is not working then the issue will either with the wiring for that inlet or the inlet valve. In our experience the issue will likely be the inlet valve. You can try and clean the inlet valve connection points inside the inlet (using a rough surface like sandpaper to clean the contacts). Alternatively you can replace the faulty inlet valve.

The machine keeps running even though I have taken the hose out of the inlet. What is the issue?

First check to see if someone has accidentally turned on the machine at the power unit. If no, then the issue will either be a short circuited wire in the house or the PC board in the system has short circuited. Unplug the low voltage wires from the side of the machine and if the power unit stops running then there is a wire short circuit in the house. If the machine keeps running the likely fault is with the PC board.

Why should I use experienced installers to install my central vacuum system?

The best way to get maximum performance out of a central vacuum power unit is to have it installed correctly and safely. This ensures that the right system is installed in your home, the pipework is installed correctly, the inlets are appropriately placed and materials meet the acceptable industry guidelines and standards.

Can I repair or replace the motor or PC board myself?

We strongly recommend you use an appropriately qualified electrical worker (like a technician from Central Vacuum Systems Ltd) to complete any electrical repairs. This ensures the work is done correctly and safely and appropriate tests are completed after the repair. Always ensure that the central vacuum system is unplugged from the power point (system is isolated away from any power) before any repairs are attempted.

Can I vent my central vacuum system outside?

In most cases a central vacuum system can be vented outside. Speak to your installer for additional information.

What happens if I vacuum up some water? Central vacuum systems are ‘dry’ systems and vacuuming up water should always be avoided. While a little water may evaporate, some water may get into the hose, get into the pipes or into the power unit. One of the downsides to water is often the smell that remains in the hose or pipes. If you vacuum up water try to clean it as quickly as possible. Try vacuuming up torn up towels to collect the moisture. You can keep vacuuming up the same torn towels if they are not too wet.

For any questions or to book a service call please contact us for more information.

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