What is a Whole House Vacuum System and How Do They Work?


The traditional vacuum cleaner is something we are all familiar with. They are portable, versatile, and can be placed in the cupboard when we are no longer using them. They are the very definition of convenience, but what if we told you there was something that might be an even better fit for your home? 

The whole house vacuum system, otherwise known as the central vacuum system, is physically installed in your home much like a boiler. It is discreetly wired through your walls with a portable hose that allows you to clean every room effortlessly. 

They are bigger and more powerful than your traditional vacuum cleaner, with incredible filtration and outdoor venting to keep your air clean. They have the potential to make life a lot easier for you, and this guide will help you determine if they are the right fit for your home.

The History of the Vacuum Cleaner

Since you likely haven’t heard of them before, they might not sound like a very popular option, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, they are becoming increasingly common due to their convenience as well as their ability to add to the value of your home. 

These vacuum cleaners actually go back to 19th Century America, and they started out as a ducted machine with copper tubes that connect from a bellows chamber in the basement or utility room. However, the machine was too expensive and less effective than people anticipated and so did not sell particularly well.


Eventually, this early version of the vacuum cleaner was slowly transformed into the portable models that we are more familiar with today. 

It wasn’t until the 1960s that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was introduced – changing everything for whole house vacuum systems by reducing the price substantially. Combined with modern technology, they also became more effective.

Advantages of Whole House Vacuum Cleaners

One of the main reasons why these semi-permanent types of vacuum cleaners are preferred over their portable vacuum cleaner counterparts is that they are the perfect systems for those with allergies and hypersensitivity to house dust.

A lot of this is due to the way in which it is installed, with the allergens sending particles directly through tubes in the walls. This eliminates any contact with dust and debris inside the house as the polluted air is pushed outside. When you compare it with the traditional vacuum cleaner, there is a much lower risk of the allergens contaminating the air within the home. 

They also last a lot longer than traditional vacuum cleaners and have greater reach, with many of the hoses reaching impressive lengths of 30 feet or more. Their increased suction power also leaves floors looking and feeling exceptionally clean after use.

Whole House Vac

How to Operate Central Vacuum Systems

The good news is that operating a central vacuum system is a lot like a traditional vacuum cleaner. So, you don’t need to worry about things getting too complex. We are here to take you through the steps so that you feel comfortable using your model for the first time.

1 Step 1: 

Take the hose for the vacuum cleaner out of storage and select the right attachments for your chosen cleaning task. These are things like the main floorhead, brush, or upholstery nozzle. It all depends on the surface you are cleaning. 

2 Step 2:

Grab the end of the hose that goes into the vacuum inlet that’s mounted to the wall and secure it in place. You will normally find that it is behind a hidden cover for better aesthetics. Make sure it is properly attached before you move onto the next step.

3 Step 3:

Generally speaking, simply opening the door to the inlet is enough to turn the vacuum motor on – but this will depend on the way your system has been designed. In systems where this is not the case, inserting the hose into the allocated fitting will connect the two electrical contacts and switch the motor on. 

More advanced designs may even have a power button found on or near the attachment section of the vacuum cleaner. This communicates with the motor through either a wired or wireless signal system.

4 Step 4:

Now you can move onto the actual cleaning process. This is very similar to the way in which you would use a traditional vacuum cleaner. However, you may need to use special techniques for heavy dirt or stain removal that will be detailed in the user manual.

5 Step 5:

Once you have cleaned that portion of the house, you can simply remove the hose from the inlet and close the hatch (which is usually automatic). This will also tend to shut the motor down until you are ready with the next room.

6 Step 6:

You can then move on to another part of the house that has a wall inlet to continue cleaning. Or, you could also utilize a longer hose that can reach every nook and cranny of the house. This option will likely impact the overall suction power, however.


7 Step 7:

Once you are done, remove the attachment and roll the hose up so that you can put everything away where you found it.

8 Step 8:

The dust canister only needs to be emptied every three months or so, depending on the design of your system. This makes things much more convenient for you. Additionally, the filter only needs to be checked every three months or so as well.

9 Step 9:

The electric motors on your whole house vacuum system will require lubrication every few years to keep things running smoothly. You may also need to replace the carbon brushes in this time to ensure they continue to work efficiently.

10 Step 10:

It is rare that these models end up getting clogged, but if it does happen it is possible for you to remove simple ones with household tools like long broom handles. However, it is recommended that you call a professional for anything that seems more severe so that they can handle it in a safe and expert manner that won’t damage your machine.


How Much Does it Cost to Install a Whole House Vacuum System?

The cost to install a whole house vacuum system can vary between £600 and £3000. It all depends on the size of your home, the accessory kit, the power unit, and the space you want it to cover. There are quite a few factors that can determine the price, but it is good to have a rough idea of how much you can expect to spend.

How Long Does a Whole House Vacuum System Last?

A whole house vacuum system can easily last 20 years. Of course, in that time you may need to replace the hose or the attachments. The main unit, however, will last a lot longer as long as you take good care of it.

Can You Install a Whole House Vacuum System After the House Has Been Built?

Yes, you can install a whole house vacuum system after the house has been built. There is no need to demolish interior walls or make big adjustments in order to install one – most of the time you only need one hole for installation, and this will be concealed by the inlet valve anyway. New or existing build, you can have the central vacuum system you want.

Does a Whole House Vacuum Need to be Vented Outside?

No, a whole house vacuum does not need to be vented outside if you install a filtered or bagged model. 

However, even if you have one of these it is recommended that you have it vented outside to improve the quality of the indoor air and ensure that allergens do get pushed outside. Additionally, true cyclonic units will need to be vented.

Is a Whole House Vacuum Better Than a Regular One?

Yes, a whole house vacuum is better than a standard one in many ways – namely the amount of suction it is able to provide and its deep cleaning abilities. However, whole-house vacuums are not portable and the hoses can be quite heavy and cumbersome to use.

Does a Whole House Vacuum Increase the Value of My Home?

Yes, a whole house vacuum can increase the value of your home. This is because it makes vacuuming a quieter experience, but also because it is already installed and ready to go – so no need to buy a new vacuum for the house. 

You will find it can increase the value by a few thousand pounds, which isn’t a massive amount but it’s certainly something.

Final Thoughts

At the very core, there isn’t much that’s different between a central vacuum cleaner and a traditional one. 

A lot of it is down to your personal preferences and what you are comfortable with having installed in your home. After all, a whole house vacuum is a more permanent resident than a traditional portable model. 

Have you got experience with whole house vacuum cleaners? Are they something you would recommend to others, or do you feel they are overrated? We love hearing your thoughts and experiences, so leave us a message in the comments below.

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