To Central Vacuum, or Not to Central Vacuum?

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?!

Decisions, Decisions…

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…

central vacuum hose outlet

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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  1. This is the second home in which I have central vac and what they call “hideaway” hoses. The hideaway hose sucks up into the outlet after you vacuum so no hose to store! The hoses are long enough to have just one on each floor. I can’t imagine cleaning without it!

  2. A central vacuum system is ideal for large homes or homes with more than one level. These systems are easy to use and give you access to a powerful vacuum cleaner without lugging the unit all around the house.

  3. The central vacuum seems like such a great idea, will you please let me know how you feel about your decision now? I am also in the middle of building a home, and the thought of having a central vacuum makes me happy. I have three young children, and it would be so nice to just suck all those crumbs in the kitchen away.

  4. Too bad for those of us homebuyers out there, if the home to buy lacks a central vac, then we’re the losers as installing it AFTER ain’t cheap or easy no matter what the liars out there who claim it’s “easy” to retrofit would have us believe.

  5. Well, beyond those cons, the pros have more points that do give a Yes to installing Central Vacuum. A central vacuum is much better at suction, easy to use by not having to carry your canister or upright here and there. Also other benefits like healthier air and less noise make them a better choice.
    I agree that installing them is cumbersome, but that is at once or make a better decision whenever you are building a new house.

  6. With a central vac it is easy to vacuum drapery, upholstery, walls, above door jambs, all sorts of place dust collects. I NEVER dust, just use my central vac to vacuum surfaces. It’s easy and keeps dust away. In my summer home I have a Dyson cordless – decent but no way can I do the blinds and upholstery as easily – and no way near as much power as my central vac (which is completely vented outside and could easily suck up a small dog if I’m careful lol)).

  7. There really is a lot that you have to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to have a central vacuum. I’m really glad that you’re honest with some of the downsides, but I do agree that it is worth having in the end. After all, the sucking power and being able to set up an outlet for specific areas of the house are great.

  8. I have central suck which is good on the stairs and wood floors, but my Dyson is my go to, it is more powerful then central and does a better job in carpets.


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