I am in the process of building a house, which means I can say with confidence that there are about a billion decisions to make: from what kind of door hinges to install, what type of tile to use on the backsplash, to where each electrical outlet goes. Today I find myself mulling over a new topic: should I get a central vacuum system or stick with a traditional vacuum?!
When our contractor asked us if we wanted central vacuum, I began to imagine all of the beautiful crumb traps (called toe kicks, in central vac parlance) I could install all over my home—in the kitchen, bathrooms, front hall—the options seemed endless. It would seem like a miracle to have somewhere to sweep all those crumbs and just see them disappear, especially if you’ve ever met my son.
Then I started thinking about those hoses. Man, they are long and cumbersome and I would need to store them somewhere, and then drag them out every time I need to vacuum. That part does not seem ideal. As you can see, I was all over the place with this decision.
I decided the best thing to do was to educate myself a little bit more on the technological advances of central vac, since the last time I lived in a house with a central vacuum system was about 15 years ago. Well, here’s what I’ve found out…
The Hose Problem
The hoses are still large! They extend to 30 or 40 feet, and unless you want to pay through the nose (and still potentially run into some snags) you want it to be those large ones that need to be stored, and not the retractable ones. Why so long you ask? In most homes, there are only one or two inlets on each floor for the hoses to attach to, so they have to be long enough to reach every corner of the house.
The Crumb Trap Trap
The second thing I discovered is that crumb traps can’t necessarily go wherever you want. This was pretty disappointing news. For the same reason that you can only have inlets in certain spots, the same applies to the toe kicks. The dirt needs a way to travel to the main system, so each kick means additional piping through the house to the garage, making it a big, costly, and often unfeasible job to have them in every room.
And The Verdict Is…
Despite my disappointment with the latter, and taking into consideration that I am going to have hardwood throughout the house, I decided that a central vacuum system was the way to go for us. The benefits of having cleaner air, better suction than with a canister vacuum, and getting to have that one toe kick in the kitchen, outweighed the negatives of the bulky hose. I will have a designated spot for the hose in my laundry or storage room, and when I don’t need to do a big vacuum, I will just use a dry mop or a robot vacuum.
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