This is the most complete information on central vacuum systems on the internet.
You will learn:
- What is a Central Vacuum System?
- The Advantages of a Central Vacuum System
- How Does a Central Vacuum System Work?
- How to Install a Central Vacuum System
- And much more …
Chapter One – What is a Central Vacuum System?
Industrial central vacuum systems are built into a building for ease of use, access, and maintenance. Vacuum and pressure are created by a centrally located motor to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Depending on the design of the system and the material to be collected, they can be filtered or unfiltered with a collection canister.
The inlets for a central vacuum system are connected by duct work, piping, or tubing that is installed along the walls of the building. The maintenance staff carry a hose of approximately 25 to 30 feet with a wand that activates the system. The electric circuitry in the hose is activated by a switch on the handle or wand.
Centrally located cleaning systems are a convenient and economical method for cleaning large buildings with multiple floors. All of the collected dirt and debris goes to the canister for trash collection. In a filtered system, a filter or several filters clean the air from the collected debris. Hoses and attachments are standardized reducing the amount of equipment maintenance staff has to carry.
The motor of a central vacuum system creates greater suction than is available from portable or handheld vacuum units. The suction on the system remains constant regardless of the amount of debris in the collection container.
The diagram below, from Schenck Process, LLC, shows several maintenance workers cleaning in various locations in a building.
Chapter Two – The Advantages of a Central Vacuum System
Central vacuum systems are more powerful with less noise than traditional cleaning methods. Since the unit is centrally located, collected dirt and dust is sealed in the system and kept from recirculating.
The main components of a central vacuum system include the vacuum motor, canister housing, filtration unit in a filtered system, and an exhaust unit. The power of the system depends on the size of the motor and how the various elements are combined.
Regardless of how central vacuum systems are constructed, they have several advantages over handheld portable vacuums. Below is a description of some of those advantages.
Advantages of a Central Vacuum System
The central vacuum power unit does not discharge forced air or stir up allergens and dust particles. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the use of a central vacuum significantly reduces dust allergies. Spent air is removed into a utility space or sent outdoors through an exhaust outlet that is similar to a standard clothes dryer vent.
Central vacuum systems have larger powerful motors for greater cleaning power. Greater suction means higher quality cleaning to remove the tiniest dust particles. Some systems have two motors that offer more suction power.
The filtration system is more effective and capable of filtering large amounts of dust and allergens. Harmful particles are captured and vented.
Central vacuums systems remove dry substances, such as plaster dust, spilled flour, laser printer toner, metal knockout slugs, wire clippings, and slivers of broken glass. Systems without filters remove the widest range of materials, while systems wet vacuum interceptors separate liquids. Any toxic materials, such as asbestos, should be removed by specialized equipment and not the central vacuum system.
Central vacuum systems are very quiet because the motor is remotely located, which is a benefit to the operator and others in the area.
Setup, use, and storage of hoses and cleaning tools is quick and efficient. Stairway cleaning is easier with the limited amount of equipment.
Central vacuum systems collect large quantities of dirt and dust before needing to be emptied, which can be done less frequently, such as a few times a year. The unique nature of cyclonic systems requires special handling of its canister when it needs to be emptied.
The initial cost of installing a central vacuum system can be high and expensive. The only ongoing cost is replacement filters. In systems without filters, there isn’t any ongoing cost except for the replacement of motor brushes and vacuum hoses. Most central vacuum systems perform the best when given regular maintenance, which may be another cost factor.
The hoses of a central vacuum system are compatible with industry standard brushes and tools used with portable vacuum cleaners. In the United States, the standard size is 1 1/4 inch, inside diameter. With some accessories, it may be necessary to bleed off excessive suction.
Protection of Walls and Furniture:
A central vacuum system does not require any form of large equipment that could damage furniture or run into walls. The hose is flexible and inserted into the inlet. The handle or wand is held by the operator. Those are the only parts of the system that are in the area to be cleaned.
Central vacuum systems can last 30 to 40 years. The only necessary maintenance may be the replacement of motor brushes, filters, bags, or lubrication of the motor.
Chapter Three - How Does a Central Vacuum System Work?
Central vacuum systems are designed for convenient removal of dirt and debris and easy access to cleaning tools. Inlets are strategically placed to make accessing the system a one step process of inserting the hose into the inlet.
A central vacuum system consists of the vacuum motor, canister housing, a filter in filtered systems, an exhaust unit, connecting hoses, and inlets. The power of the system depends on the size of the motor, which can vary from 10 hp to 100 hp depending on system size, location of the power unit, and area to be cleaned.
Industrial central vacuum systems are capable of sucking up large quantities of material per hour and filter particles up to 0.3 microns. They provide better product quality, material reclamation, and reduce wear and tear on equipment as well as labor costs.
How Does a Central Vacuum System Work?
The central power unit is located out of the way in a utility closet, storage area, or janitorial room. The power unit, canister, and filtration system are on the lowest floor of the building. If they are placed at a higher level, the unit will require greater power. The system is activated by a switch or button on the handle or wand of the connecting hose. Power to the hose and wand is supplied through wiring in the hose.
The number of inlets is based on the square feet of the building. Normally, they are placed every 600 square feet. Buildings with several stories and office space may require more inlets depending on the square footage.
The number of inlets has little to do with the size of the power unit. The number of people using the system at one time decides the ability of the system.
In one hour, a single operator can clean approximately 3000 square feet of clear floor space. Rougher floors or obstructions, as is found in factories and work floors, require an hour to clean approximately 2000 square feet. The size of the cleaning system and the operators using it determines how many vacuum power units will be needed.
The power button for the system is on the handle of the wand. Once the hose is inserted, the vacuum is activated by a button on the handle.
Wand or Handle:
The handle or wand has a two way switch to turn the system on and off. They come in several styles from ones that look like the handle on a gas pump to ones that look like the handle on a portable vacuum.
The hose has metal around the wall end or metal ring . When it is inserted into the inlet, suction automatically starts. The hose supplies electricity to the hose and has a diameter of 1 1/2 inches or more, depending on the system. Hoses can be in 25 to 30 foot lengths or longer.
Central vacuum system tubing is specifically designed to avoid clogging. It has thinner walls to match the thickness of the hub of the fittings avoiding the potential of gaps or crevices. All back up plates are designed to fit this size tubing. Central vacuum manufacturers recommend it.
Chapter Four – How to Install a Central Vacuum System
A central vacuum system is designed for cleaning of dry granular materials or low viscosity liquids. The size of the area to be cleaned and the amount of dirt or debris determines the size of the hose, wand, and accessories. Below is a brief explanation of the steps to be taken when installing an industrial central vacuum system.
Central Vacuum System Installation
When planning the installation of a central vacuum system, the important factors to consider are the materials to be picked up and removed and the area to be cleaned. In most industrial settings, there are obstructions and uneven surfaces with a variety of debris. A close evaluation of the environment and conditions can help determine the size of the central vacuum system.
Power Unit Location:
Power units are located on the lowest floor of the building in a utility closet, storage area, or janitorial closet. The location should provide enough access for an exhaust pipe, canister, motor, and connecting tubing. In some cases, very large units are located outside the building with multiple tubes.
The image below has a system located in a corner of the building with room for the tubing.
The main principle behind the installation of the tubing system is to keep it short. Main pipes or tubes can be routed in several different ways. The video below, from Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum Solutions, shows the installation of a tubing system in a three story building.
Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum Solutions
The installation of tubing begins at the farthest inlet and works backward to check if the routing is correct.
Inlet valves have to be located so that every part of the location can be reached. For factories, tubing systems and inlets are installed along the walls. For offices, they are inside the walls out of view. Normally, the tubing that connects the inlet to the system is at a 90o angle to prevent objects from being inserted into it. In some factory or work room locations, inlets may be installed at a 45o angle.
Chapter Five – Types of Central Vacuum Systems
Central vacuum systems are a labor saving, efficient, and time saving method for keeping work areas clean and clear. They avoid the necessity of extra cleaning equipment and are easily accessible.
The main types of central vacuum systems are cyclonic, filtered, and unfiltered or bagless.
Types of Central Vacuum Systems
Bagged Central Vacuum Systems are the cleanest and most hygienic way of capturing and disposing of dirt, dust, and debris. The incoming suction from the central vacuum system carries the dirt and other debris directly into a disposable bag, as seen below. Bags trap dust, dirt, and debris as well as 99.9% of microscopic particles and allergens. The use of a bag system increases the life of the motor and removes the need for venting the system.
Bags come in a variety of filtration levels such as standard, micro-lined, and HEPA. They are available in cloth or paper and should be emptied when half or three quarters full.
Bagless Central Vacuum Systems are easy to use and less expensive to maintain. They run at peak suction power even when the canister is nearly full. The system is dumped by unlatching the canister and emptying the contents.
Bagless systems can come with a self-cleaning inverted filter that keeps dirt and debris from entering the motor. When the system is activated, the filter moves up to protect the motor. When the system is deactivated, the filter moves down dropping debris into the canister.
Cyclonic Systems use cyclonic separation to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Most of the debris is collected into the canister. Smaller particles are vented outside. Cyclonic systems do not have a bag or filter and are maintenance free.
Compact Central Vacuum Systems require little to no installation and can be easily moved. They have the same suction as the larger systems with the convenience of being easily relocated.
Wet/Dry central vacuum systems can pick up dry dust, dirt, and debris or liquid spills. They do everything a normal central vacuum is capable of with the added feature of being able to remove liquids.
Chapter Six – Central Vacuum System Concerns
Central vacuum systems are durable, reliable, and convenient. They are a readily accessible method for cleaning shop floors, factory spillage, and debris. As dependable as they are, they are also complex systems that can malfunction if there is a problem anywhere in the system. Described below are some of the problems that can develop in a central vacuum system.
Central Vacuum System Problems
Reduced suction can be the result of a full filter or canister, a damaged filter bag, or a clog in the vent or exhaust system.
A clog in the hose or pipe can cause reduced suction. It can be complete or partial. The easiest way to determine the location of the clog is to check the hose, which can be connected directly to the central unit to be cleared. If the clog persists, then it is in the piping, which requires checking all of the inlets to determine the location of the clog.
The causes of leaks in the system can be multiple hoses being used at the same time, unsealed inlet covers, damaged tubing, or multiple hoses being clogged or plugged.
Unit Won’t Shut Off:
The possible reasons the unit won’t shut off are a bad relay, a short in an inlet, or a problem with rodent infestation.
Unit Will Not Activate:
The unit not activating is an electrical problem similar to ones associated with any type of electrical equipment. It could be a tripped circuit breaker or insufficient voltage for the unit. Circuit breakers can be tripped by a short in a wire. A short in the motor may also be the cause of the problem.
Over time and with continued use, central vacuum system pipes may crack or be punctured. Since the majority of systems have PVC piping, the steps for repairing them are the same as those used to repair any form of PVC pipe.
Dirty or worn bearings in the motor can cause a circuit breaker to trip. They can be fixed with a lubricant. If the bearings are worn, they will need to be replaced.
Chapter Seven – Central Vacuum System Maintenance
Regular maintenance of a central vacuum system can prevent many of the issues the system may have. Though central vacuum systems run flawlessly for many years, they need to be regularly maintained to ensure peak performance. Below are some of the regular maintenance activities to keep a central vacuum system running efficiently.
Regular Maintenance of a Central Vacuum System
Canister maintenance, on large industrial systems, may need to be done every other day, depending on the capacity of the canister and the amount of waste that is collected. Normally, industrial canisters need to be checked and emptied two or three times a week. Having a schedule and checking this will ensure it happens as a routine part of the cleaning process.
Under normal conditions, the filter on a central vacuum system will need to be replaced two or four times a year. As with emptying of the canister, this is determined by the volume of waste collected. Checking the capacity of the system and making periodic checks of the filtration system can help determine how many times the filter will need replacing. In clean room facilities, this may be more frequent.
With filter bags, it is best to replace them when they are half or three quarters full. It is unwise to wait until they are full since it may clog the system and damage the motor.
Since cyclonic systems do not have a filter, the only part of the system to check is the collection container, which is much like a canister. With a cyclonic system, the collection container may not need to be emptied until it is full or before suction drops off. Some systems have clear collection containers, which makes checking them easier.
The central part of any central vacuum system is the motor. As with any form of machinery, the motor must be regularly checked and lubricated. The bearings on the motor will need regular lubrication, unless there is a specific problem. Brushes on a motor last for years and only need replacement in special circumstances.
One of the problems that goes unnoticed with a central vacuum system is the types of substances that are collected. Most of the time, what is collected, is dry dirt or dust that is commonly found on the work floor. On occasion, sticky substances, like glue or epoxy, may get stuck in the tubing. If this problem arises, it can usually be cleared with a plumbers snake or a length of wire.
Problems in the tubing become noticeable when there is a drop in system suction. As with other maintenance, the quality of the suction should be checked to ensure the system is working properly to avoid damage to the motor.
- Industrial central vacuum systems are built into a building for ease of use, access, and maintenance.
- Central vacuum systems are a readily accessible method for cleaning shop floors, factory spillage, and debris.
- The types of central vacuum systems are cyclonic, filtered, and unfiltered.
- Regular maintenance of a central vacuum system can prevent many of the issues the system may have.
- Central vacuum systems are designed for convenience and dirt and debris removal with easy access to cleaning tools