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How you answer the following questions will influence the kind of system you should consider. Your system supplier/installer will need to know this information before a recommendation can be made.
Once you have made your system selection, be sure you get answers from your supplier to these questions.
The best time to install a built-in vacuum system is when the home is being built. If you are in the planning stages, your architect can incorporate your built-in system into the specifications for your home drawings. For a home under construction, it is important to do some installation planning to determine the system configuration and scheduling the rough-in (piping the home) at the right time. If you are using a custom builder or contracting the home yourself, installation planning can be done directly with the supplier. If you are purchasing a home in a subdivision, you usually need to go through the sales office or coordinate with the construction office for system selection and piping of the home. Built-in systems can be installed in existing homes. Single-story homes usually present no installation concerns. Multi-story homes can be retrofit for a built-in vacuum system provided there is attic crawl space or other access routes to install the piping. Consult your installation contractor to be sure.
The size of the home is important, because it is used by your system designer to determine the size of the power unit you will require and the number of inlets that will be needed to properly serve your home. A good rule of thumb is to plan on one inlet for every 700 square feet of living space. For example, a 2100 square foot home would require three inlets.
Virtually all built-in vacuum systems provide exceptional cleaning when compared to portable vacuums. The features of each system determine their relative effectiveness and convenience, such as filtration system, number of motors, whether outside venting is required and so on. Check out our Features analysis for more information to help you decide what is important to you in selecting a power unit.
Most home owners install the power unit in their garage. Alternative locations include utility rooms, laundry rooms, and even the attic or basement. Two facts are important to keep in mind: the power unit will require an electrical outlet, and most units need to be placed in a ventilated area.
Be sure to inform your builder or architect where you want the unit placed so that a dedicated 110 or 220 volt power source can be installed by the electrician. If you must install the power unit in an enclosed area, such as a utility room, be sure that the power unit you select does not require an exhaust, that is, has been designed to be installed in enclosed spaces. If you must install a unit in the living area of the home, e.g., in a laundry room, you might prefer to select a unit that has been designed to operate very quietly.
Inlets are installed inside your home which connect the cleaning hose and attachments to the network of piping that leads to the vacuum power unit. Various inlet styles are available to complement the interior design of your home, from standard PVC plates to custom materials like antique brass or pewter.
The kinds of surfaces that need to be maintained and the design of your home will influence the kinds of attachments and accessories you will select. Will you have tile and wood floors or all wall-to-wall carpeting or a combination? How high are your ceilings--normal height or vaulted? Do you have stairs? Do you want to use the power unit to clean your vehicle interiors? Will you need to clean any wet areas such as the patio around the pool or light pickup of kitchen spills? How do you want to turn on the unit: by inserting the hose into the inlet or by a switch on the hose handle?
A wide variety of attachments are available that can be selected for your cleaning requirements;
Warranties vary by manufacturer. Check on where the warranty service must be performed, who is responsible for shipping and handling costs if the unit must be returned to the factory, and any on-site service fees.
Installation quality is critically important to the trouble-free operation of a built-in vacuum system. Even the most powerful vacuum unit will not make up for poor quality installation materials or design. Is the installer trained in built-in vacuum system installation? How much installation experience does he have? Equally important is after installation service. Is the supplier selling the power unit also an authorized service center--will the supplier be available after the installation to support the warranty or will you be referred to the manufacturer, or have to find a service center on your own?
The piping of the home--called the rough-in--must be scheduled with your builder at a specific point in the construction process, namely, after the electrical wiring has been completed and before the drywall is put up. The scheduling window can be very short, so it is important to maintain good communications with your builder and selected installer.