While we often think about the aesthetics of our dream houses, we may not spend enough time researching some of the more technical/mechanical elements that could contribute to making our daily lives easier.

No matter how beautiful a home is, it still needs to be cleaned.

A built-in central vacuum system will make the not-so-glamorous job of vacuuming a little easier and ultimately will result in a home that is cleaner and air that is healthier. A central vacuum system eliminates the hassle of lugging a portable vacuum all over the house. For those of us with stairs, this system becomes even more appealing.

A central vacuum system is just what the name implies. It is a built-in vacuum system that runs throughout the house with hoses and pipes connected to a dump canister and stationary vacuum.

Each area of your house is equipped with a wall or floor-mounted receptacle into which you plug your vacuum hose. The vacuum hose and nozzle are the only things you have to transport from room to room.

Usually there is an on-off switch on the handle of your portable hose, so you can power up the vacuum from anywhere in the house once you are connected to a vacuum outlet. The dump canister is out of sight, usually located in a remote area like the garage or basement.

For the ultimate convenience if you do not wish to haul the hose around, options are available with disappearing hoses that will retract into a storage area inside a wall.

One of the main benefits of a central vacuum system is the vacuum unit itself. A stationary vacuum can be more heavy duty and powerful than the typical household vacuum because it doesn’t have to be lightweight.

Most central vacuums have twice the suction power of portable vacuum cleaners. There are various sizes and capacities of the vacuum unit and the dump canister, which will be sized based on the square footage of your house.

Most central vacuum manufacturers offer several models ranging in size, power and price so as to accommodate various sizes of houses.

A vacuum is often rated by air power, air flow and horse power; however, these measurements are not the best indicators of effective suction. The most reliable measure is “waterlift.” Water lift is established by a factory test of a sealed vacuum system’s sucking power.

Smaller vacuum systems have a waterlift rating from 105 inches to 120 inches. This is sufficient for a house of area 2,500 square feett. Manufacturers offer literature explaining which size of central vacuum will be suitable for a house of specific area. Check the manufacturer’s literature to choose the right size model for your home.

One of the biggest misconceptions of the central vacuum system is that it can only be installed in new construction applications.

That is simply not true. It can definitely be retrofitted into an existing house either in conjunction with a remodeling project or simply added as a stand-alone DIY project.

Installation is fairly simple if you have easy access (such as an unfinished basement). If you can handle a drill and measure accurately, you can install the cleaning system in about a weekend for as little as $1,000 to $1,200. Of course, if you have it professionally installed, you will need to pay for labor so the bill will be closer to $2,000 depending on your contractor, the size of your house, and the size of the unit to be installed.

Installing the system in a fully finished house is possible, but takes more time, money, and skill to open the sheet rock on walls and ceilings in order to complete the system.

Central vacum systems 2

Photo Credit: Scot Zimmerman Basement Before and After: A dream home is more than beautiful? to look at, it also needs to have well-thought-out electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems to support it and make the space functional.

Central Vacum Systems 1

A built-in central vacuum system eliminates the hassle of lugging a portable vacuum. (scott zimmerman)

Adding a central vacuum system is one of the unseen aspects of a remodel that can contribute to improving your life after the project is finished. As we are designing a remodel, one of our goals is to create a space that functions better for your family.

As architects, we get to know your needs, wants, and goals for your family as well as for your house. We ask you to consider the shortcomings of your current house and how you ultimately want your space to function. Remodeling should create solutions and help your home function better.

We want your home to make you happy and your life to be easier because of how your home functions.

Taking time to think of everything will be the key to creating your ultimate dream house. A true dream house is full of technical conveniences like plugs and switches in the perfect places and simple pleasures like a central vacuum system.

Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local architectural firm specializing in home remodels.

Adding central vacuum system to the home