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How to Install a Central Vacuum, and Is It Good for Pet Hair?

Central vacuum systems are becoming more and more common in everyday homes. They are known to be a completely dust free way to clean and are more powerful than any traditional household or commercial vacuum cleaner available. 

A central vacuum unit is installed in an area away from the central living space of the home with the pipes and hoses leading to and from the central unit being run through the walls, attic, basements, or crawl spaces.

How to Install Central Vacuums

Installing a central vacuum unit in an existing home can be done without the help of a professional. All you need to do is pay careful attention to planning the layout of the pipes and unit placement before making any cuts.

Installing the Power Unit

The first thing you should do is choose a location for the power unit, which is the central part of the vacuum unit. It will need to be installed somewhere away from the central living space so that its noise doesn’t bother anyone and so that the unit can be accessed easily for cleaning.

Choosing a well-ventilated area will ensure that any dust stirred around from changing the filter doesn’t bother anyone. Good location options include the garage, basement, utility room, covered deck, carport, or some other type of covered, ventilated area.

The power unit is meant to be mounted on the wall. From its permanent mount, it is connected to the rooms in the house through tubes installed inside the walls throughout the house. Since the power unit will need to be plugged in, you will need to install it close to an electrical outlet.

But you will also want to check the circuit breaker and the other appliances connected to each circuit so that installing your power unit doesn’t overload your home’s circuits.

In order for your power unit to have sufficient ventilation and room for proper and convenient functionality, you will need to make sure it’s about a foot and a half off the ground and leave at least one foot of space between the top of the power unit and the ceiling.

Planning and Layout

Before making any permanent steps forward, such as cutting tubes, pipes, or walls, make sure you plan carefully for the type of home that you have. Different types of homes will require different layouts.

Split-level Layout

A split-level house will most likely use a double-trunk line system, which means that there will be two main lines, or trunks, that have other tubes branching out from them leading into the various other sections of the house. With a power unit installed in the garage, this layout would likely have the intake tubing running along the garage wall and into the attic of the house’s ground level. From there, lines can be dropped inside interior walls with lines extending down to the house’s lower level so that area can be connected as well.

Two-Story Layout

A two-story house will also use a double-trunk line system, but this one will have a lower line running through the basement and an upper line running through the attic. The basement line is usually exposed along the basement walls and ceiling. The inlet lines for the first floor will be run through interior walls and connected to the basement line.

The attic line is run along the attic floor and connects to inlet lines for the second floor of the house. A two-story house with no basement could possibly have lines run through the crawl space under the house if there is room.

A two-story house with no basement or crawl space would have the tubing run through the attic and dropped inside interior walls down through both levels instead of just one level. The power unit for a two-story house will most likely be in the garage or basement, whichever is applicable.

Ranch Style Layout

A ranch style house will typically have the power unit installed in the garage with the tubing running through the attic and dropped into interior walls. This is a very straightforward central vacuum system layout and should be fairly easy to map out and take measurements for.

Planning the Installation of Tubing

Before you make any permanent cuts, you need to plan the layout of the tubes for the central vacuum system. You can do this conveniently with a wire that you will run along the basement or attic and the walls so that you can get a feel for the layout and take accurate measurements for the tubing.

You will also need to plan the inlet locations, keeping in mind that the more locations you have, the higher the chances of leaking in the system. When you have your estimated measurements, you can purchase the necessary pipes and fittings. Make sure to buy the appropriate PVC, which is certified 2” central vacuum PVC. Plumbing PVC will not work.

Is a Central Vacuum System Good for Pet Hair?

Central vacuum systems are an excellent option for pet owners because it will help you to easily and conveniently minimize the amount of pet hair and dander that comes with owning pets. Since a central vacuum unit will have the power unit located away from the main living areas, the noise of a running vacuum will be muffled.

It won’t scare your pets or interrupt your family activities. In addition to that, when you vacuum, no dust, dander, or fur will be blown up into the air like it would with a traditional vacuum. Traditional vacuums constantly exhaust as you vacuum, so even though it is sucking up pet hair and other stuff, it is still expelling dust particles into the air. Central vacuum units contain the dust and particles in one spot away from common living areas.


There are many types of vacuum options available, but when it comes to minimizing pet dander and common household dust and allergens, a central vacuum unit is the best choice. With proper planning and the right tools, you can install a central vacuum system without professional help, even in an existing home.
If you’re not ready or your house doesn’t suit a central vacuum, then you might just need a dog hair vacuum that’s up for the job.