We have a client that has had a central vacuum in their home for the past 15 years with NO problems. A central vacuum built to suck the paint off the walls. That was until yesterday…..
The vacuum was turning on when the switch was activated, but it had very little suction, not even strong enough to pick up bird feathers and anyone who has had birds, knows what kind of mess they can make. It’s a daily chore keeping those areas clean and a central vacuum is the owner’s lifeline, and without it, the amount of feathers that cover the floor could “build” you another bird!!
If you have a central vac that suddenly has low suction, there may be a variety of reasons this may be happening. The most common cause is a full filter bag or dirt cup. If cleaning the filter, changing the bag, or emptying the dirt cup doesn’t fix your low suction issue, there’s a good chance you may have a blockage.
Before calling an expensive technician out for a service call, here is a way to help you clear your vacuum lines.
Step 1: Determining where the blockage is located.
Start at the inlet valve is located the closest to the vacuum unit then plug in your hose and activate the vacuum suction. Unless you have a Suction Gauge. just laying around the house you will have to “test” the suction in a more conventional way. You can do this by placing the palm of your hand over the hose and sealing off the suction and then removing it quickly. This helps in determining “suction power” at that valve. Continue checking each inlet until you reach the valve where the suction level decreases dramatically or does not exist at all. Our clients clog was between the 1st and 2nd inlet, so inlet valves 3, 4, and 5 yielded little or no suction.
Step 2: Removing the blockage
This next step is simple, but it requires a second vacuum. A Shop Vac style vacuum works best, but almost any vacuum with a hose (i.e. Upright, Canister, Backpack) will do the trick. To unclog the lines, insert your central vacuum hose into the inlet valve that is closest to the “culprit” inlet valve and leave it on the floor (DO NOT ACTIVATE THE SUCTION). Next, insert the 2nd vacuum’s hose into the “culprit” inlet valve and turn the 2nd vacuum on. Depending on how far away the clog is from the inlet, the Shop Vac will reverse the suction direction and pull the debris out of the line. You may have to wrap a small towel around the hose and the inlet your 2nd hose is plugged into to get a good seal. This process may pull out a little at first but just remove the hose and pull out whatever you can see with your hands and the re-apply the hose. It may require 2-3 attempts to get all of it cleared out, but the method is VERY effective.
What happens if the method above doesn’t work?
If the method above doesn’t unclog the lines, you may want to consider calling in a technician as those types of clogs usually have to be cut out of the central vacuum pipes.
How can I prevent clogs from happening in the future?
Loss of suction is not always a result of the vacuum lines being clogged. Most times, the loss of suction is due to excess build up in the lines of dirt and debris from years of service. To help clean and service the vacuum lines, The Vacuum Factory has two different methods for keeping your vacuum performing at its peak ability. The first way is by using TornadoPower Cloths. Tornado Power Cloths are textured cloths specially formulated to capture dirt and grime residue that exists in the hose and pipe of your central vacuum system. Also, when pulled through the pipe system, these cloths capture larger debris such as pebbles, lint, sticks, etc. and deliver these items to the canister. Finally, the treated cloths “wipe down” the inside walls of hoses and pipes, and their scented solution leaves the entire system smelling clean and fresh.
The second method is by using the FlipBus Central Vacuum Pipe Cleaner System. The FlipBus System is a small device designed to remove the small residue left in the piping network of a central vacuum system. It leaves the piping system cleaner and smoother, which provides higher performance of the system and guarantees increased efficiency. Just insert the Flip Bus container into the valve farthest away from the unit (In our client’s case that would be valve #5) and the suction will pull the cleaning balls through the system and deposit them into the bag or dirt canister. You would then retrieve the FlipBus cleaning balls from the dirt container and reinsert them into the Flip Bus container and move to the next inlet and repeat the process.
Perform either of the two methods above on the central vacuum pipe every 6 to 8 months and your system should be clean, fresh, and performing to its peak performance.