Bob Vila Radio: Central Vacuums

More convenient, quieter, and more powerful than portable units, central vacuum systems may be the house-cleaning necessity of tomorrow.

Consider this: In Canada, about 40% of homes are equipped with central vacuum systems. In the U.S., the figure is less than 5%. Are those Canadians onto something?


Listen to BOB VILA ON CENTRAL VACUUMS or read the text below:

Central Vacuum


A central vac system consists of a canister-like motor, typically mounted in the garage or basement, connected via tubing to inlets in walls throughout the house. The system includes a long hose—usually 30 feet long—plus attachments. To vacuum, simply plug the hose into the inlet of your choice and start cleaning.

Proponents note that central vac systems are not only more convenient than standalone vacuums, but also quieter and more powerful. And because debris is sucked into a collection unit outside the main house, a central vac cuts down on indoor allergens, dust, and pollutants.

One drawback is cost. A system can run between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on house size and extras. (But on the plus side, installers claim that retrofitting can be less expensive than you’d think!)

Another con: Storing the bulky hose. If this is a turnoff, look into the Hide-a-Hose system in which a hose is pulled from each wall inlet and retracted after use.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.