Is a Central Vacuum System Right for Your Home? Learn Pros, Cons, Cost, and More

Conroy Baltimore
Written by Conroy Baltimore
Updated March 2, 2022
A beautiful living room interior with carpet
Photo: pics721 / Adobe Stock


  • Central vacuum systems are installed within your home.

  • Benefits include more suction power and enhanced air quality.

  • Installation ranges between $1,000–$2,000.

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Sigh. You promised yourself the kids wouldn’t eat on the carpet anymore—there are crumbs everywhere! Now you have to break out the portable vacuum, a machine you wouldn’t call your favorite. The noise, sound, and dust in your face make it something you try and avoid. 

But vacuuming can be made easier by installing a central vacuum system. It’s a modern cleaning method popular among homeowners. You won’t have to worry about maneuvering a portable vacuum to keep your carpet looking brand new. We’ll explain the ins and outs of a central vacuum system and if your household can benefit from its use.

What Is a Central Vacuum System?

A central vacuum system is an internally built vacuum system within your home. It consists of three main components:

  • Central vacuum unit

  • Concealed PVC pipes

  • Vacuum accessories

There are usually two types of central vacuum systems you can choose from:

  • Cyclonic

  • Filtered

Cyclonic systems use a tornado-like force and gravity to separate impurities from the air being taken in by the vacuum. Debris gets deposited into a bag or canister. Filtered systems are more common among homeowners. You can either have a bag or a bagless unit. 

The main difference is cleaning or replacing the filter on your bagged vacuum system. Bagless systems have a self-cleaning feature, reducing the need for hands-on maintenance.

How Does a Central Vacuum System Work?

The central vacuum unit is usually placed in a remote location, such as your basement, garage, or utility room. Unlike your traditional vacuum cleaner, a central vacuum system operates away from your living area. This means you won’t have to worry about any dust blowback as you’re vacuuming.

A PVC pipe network runs throughout the walls and floors of your home, which also connects to various vacuum inlets. Depending on the type of system you might have, it will either power on immediately or need manual operation when you attach a hose.

Anything taken in by the vacuum travels through the piping network to the central vacuum unit, which houses the dirt and debris. Afterward, the only job left to do is to put your hose back in its storage place. 

Pros of a Central Vacuum System

A central vacuum cleaner hose plugged in to wall
Photo: Hamik / Adobe Stock

Think about the level of possibilities you’ll unlock if you get a central vacuum system in your home. No mornings will be spent going up and down the stairs with your portable machine. You won’t be hunching over because you can’t set the right vacuum height. Doesn’t that sound like a dream?

Here are other benefits you’ll get from installing a central vacuum system in your home.

More Suction Power

Take a moment to think about common vacuum cleaner problems. Is suction power one of the first to come to mind? Whether your current machine is older or has little storage capacity, its limited suction power can hinder your cleaning capabilities.

Powerful motors in your central vacuum system enhance its suction power, giving it industrial-level strength. Greater suction power makes it even easier to gather the tiniest dust particles in your home.

Improved Air Quality

With traditional vacuum cleaners, you’ll always face the inevitable dust cloud that comes from your machine as you clean. In these dust clouds are particles and other allergens that can negatively impact your indoor air quality and anyone with respiratory issues.

Since central vacuum units are away from frequented areas, your air quality won’t be affected by any dust left behind. It remains stored until it’s time to empty the container.

No Noise Pollution

You can’t miss the sound when someone uses a portable vacuum cleaner. Central vacuum systems won’t give you a noise pollution problem. Even though they’re already quieter than portable vacuums, central vacuums are located away from your living space. You won't hear it running.

Longer Life Span

How often have you replaced your vacuum cleaner (you can stop counting now)? If you find yourself buying a new machine every so often, it’s because traditional vacuum cleaners have an average life span of two to three years.

Even if you pay to fix it, those maintenance costs can add up over time. Compared to the life span of a central vacuum system, which is about 20 plus years, that’s one way to cut down on expenses. Your maintenance will include occasionally buying filters and bags, and emptying the central unit.

Cons of a Central Vacuum System

As many benefits as a central vacuum system offers, it might not be for your household. There are a few things you’ll have to consider before hiring a central vacuum company to install your system.

Installation Costs

Installing a central vacuum system can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000. However, it will depend on several factors such as:

  • House size

  • Your location

  • Type of system

  • Connections needed


Although it’s rare, central vacuum systems can have occasional maintenance issues. For example, broken motors are one of the issues homeowners have to deal with. According to HomeAdvisor, it can cost anywhere between $100 to $500 to repair a broken motor, plus installation fees. 

Issues with other electrical components can range between $15 to $55 an hour. If you’re not comfortable with these occasional maintenance costs, then a central vacuum system may not be the best option for your household.

Storage Space

There are vacuum systems with retractable hoses that go into the wall after use. On the other hand, some units have attachable hoses that connect to the vacuum inlets. 

While they help with cleaning, the hoses can be long and bulky, taking up space around your home. Without ample room, you’ll have to figure out the best area to store your hoses.

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