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Central vacuum

A central vacuum system offers a quieter, more convenient and more powerful way to keep your home clean. (Dreamstime/TNS)

If you've ever hauled a bulky vacuum from room to room and silently cursed as you ran out of cord length just short of finishing a hallway, a central vacuum system could solve your problems and ease up some of that back strain.

Much like a central HVAC unit, a central vacuum system runs pipes throughout the home's interior walls. Those pipes connect to a main vacuum and power unit typically located in a garage or basement. Suction ports, which are nearly as unobtrusive as electrical outlets, are placed throughout the home. This allows you to connect a hose directly to the wall in any room of the house, flick a switch, vacuum the room and be done. Just detach the hose and move on to the next room to keep vacuuming.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CENTRAL VACUUM?

A central vacuum system comes with numerous benefits. The main power unit's location makes vacuuming quieter and less disruptive — the noise won't be as bothersome to your pets and children. It's also more powerful than a portable vacuum, even though you no longer have to haul a heavy unit around the house.

Traditional vacuums recycle the suctioned air right out of the main unit and back into the room, but a central vacuum draws the dirt, air and particles all the way down to the central unit. Then, it exhausts air outside like a dryer vent. Since traditional vacuum systems kick up air and stir up debris when they recirculate the air, they can cause big problems for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. But a central vacuum system sucks it all out of the home entirely.

You can purchase a variety of add-ons to improve the system, such as retractable hoses that slide right back into the walls, or baseboard suction, which allows you to sweep dirt to the baseboard and suck the dirt away with the flip of a switch.

HOW MUCH WILL A CENTRAL VACUUM SYSTEM COST?

You'll be investing about $1,500 up front for a central vacuum system, and that goes up with installation or additional features. But on the positive side, you'll never need to buy a vacuum again; a central vacuum system boasts a lifespan of about 40 years. You also won't be constantly replacing filters or emptying debris as with a standard vacuum. The unit's larger reservoir means you'll only need to empty the unit a few times a year.

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You don't need to have new construction to install a central vacuum. A professional installer can retrofit it into your wall with minimal cutouts and fuss. Installers do not require a license, but in addition to checking their references, ask your installer if they have proof of training from the product manufacturers and/or certification on installation of central systems from the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association.

A central vacuum can add resale value to your home. What's more, it makes an interesting conversation piece that might help your home stand out from others when you're showing it!


Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.

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