Friday, January 30, 2009

How To Unclog A Central Vacuum System

If you own a central vacuum system you're bound to experience clogs and blockages in your tubing at least once (and most likely more than once). Many of you have probably experienced clogs already. You most likely waited several days (without a vacuum) for a service call and then paid anywhere form $50 to $150 dollars for the technician to remove the clog. If you're system gets clogged often this can really start to add up! Because I understand the frustration of having a vacuum that doesn't work, I am going to teach you some secrets that central vacuum technicians use to remove clogs and blockages.

The first thing that we should discuss is prevention. The truth is that most clogs are preventable; there are certain things that you should avoid sucking up. In my experience with removing clogs, 98% of the time the clog was caused by a long solid object. When I say long solid object I mean any object that is over 2" in length and solid in form. Most commonly I found items like bobby pins, tooth picks, sucker sticks, crayons, pens, etc. These items enter the system and then get stuck in the turns of the vacuum lines. After the item is lodged in the pipe, it catches hair, carpet fibers, dirt and other things that would normally go through fine. Give it long enough and you have a full blown clog and very little suction.

Besides long solid objects there are a few other items that you should be cautious when sucking up. Things like shredded paper and pine needles are okay to vacuum up, however, if you suck up too much at once it can potentially cause a clog. When vacuuming up these things it is best to do it slowly and a little at a time. Also, for most central vacuum systems it is critical that you never vacuum up water or moister in any form. If moister enters your system it will mix with dirt and other debris, this mixture will then harden in your lines, creating a potential clog hazard.

Its hard to monitor everything you vacuum up and like I said, if you own a central vac you are bound to get a clog. So what do you do if you find that your system has no suction? The first thing that you want to do is determine that a clog is the actually cause for the low suction and make sure it is not another issue. To do this you test your inlets, if you notice that some of them have good suction and some do not you most likely have a plug in the line(s) near the inlets that do not have good suction. If you notice that all of the inlets have low suction you will want to check a couple of things to make sure the cause is a clog.

The quickest way to determine if the cause of the low suction is due to a clog or the vacuum unit itself (filter, motor, etc.), is to go to the canister and disconnect the intake pipe that enters the canister (usually it just slides out). Then use the manual switch to turn the vacuum on (Note: some brands do not feature a manual on/off switch at the canister, but you can turn the vacuum on by plugging in a hose to any of the inlets). With the vacuum running, feel the suction right at the intake of the unit where you removed the pipe. If the suction is good at the intake, but low at other inlets when you reconnect it to the system then you know there is a clog in your lines (it could also be a leak, but I will explain how to check for this below). If the suction is low right at the intake then this means that the cause of the low suction is being caused by something within the vacuum unit; usually the filters or motor issues cause this. If you can't determine the cause from this follow the procedures below.

If all inlets have low suction, go to the vacuum canister unit and check the bag and/or filter to make sure it is clean and empty. A full canister, full bag, clogged filter or covered filter screen can reduce the suction. Check the user's manual for your specific model for instructions on how to clean and maintain your filter, bag, screen, etc.

If you have checked the bags and filters and the suction is still low, next you will want to make sure there are no openings in your system. Check all of the inlet doors to make sure they are closed and sealing properly. If you have any openings in the system other than the inlet you are using it will lower the suction significantly. If there are no openings or leaks in the system and the suction is still low, you most likely have a clog.If you are confident that you have a clog, the first thing to do is locate it. Check the hose first to make sure it is not clogged. this can be done by sending a small item like a marble through the hose. If it comes out the other end you are okay, if it stops and does not come out the other end you have a clog in the hose. this can be removed by sending a heavy item like a screw driver down the hose or you can send a garden hose (NO WATER) through to try and dislodge the clog.

If the clog is not in the hose proceed to check the inlets to locate the clog. Like I mentioned before if only certain inlets have low suction the clog is most likely located near those inlets. However, if all of the inlets have low suction the clog is located near the vacuum unit.

Once you've determined the approx. location of the clog its time to remove it. What most service technicians use to get clogs out is a small high powered vacuum. The reason they try to suck out the clog is because when an item is stuck in the line it usually will not go forward anymore, but it will usually come backwards. You should never use plumbing snakes to remove clogs, because central vacuum PVC pipe is much thinner than plumbing pipe and a snake can potentially crack or break the pipe (then you have a real mess).

Service techs will use the high powered vacuum along with a short vacuum hose to remove the clog. They cover the opening of the inlet closest to the clog with the end of the short vacuum hose and suck out the clog. Most of the time the clog will come right out. If the clog is large and difficult you might have to work it loose. This is done by hooking up the service vacuum to different inlets around the clog to pull it at different angles. You can also alternate between the backward pull of the service vac and the forward pull of your systems. This will usually work a large plug loose. After doing this sometime the clog will loosen up and go forward into you central vac canister. Other times it will come out backwards to the service vac.

After you have pulled the clog out you want to check and make sure you got it all out. This can be done by simply sending a small grocery bag through each inlet. If the bags make it all the way to your central vacuum canister then you know your lines are clear. If the bags do not make it to the canister that means that they are stuck in the lines and you haven't removed all of the clog. Don't be fooled, just because you pull some of the clog out and the suction seems good that doesn't mean that you have gotten it all out. Many times the item that was the initial cause of the plug (the long solid object) is still in the lines and you have just pulled out the debris behind that object. You need to get that item out or a clog will happen again. That is why the bag test is so important to do. If the object is still in the lines working the item with the service vac will do the trick.

The service vac is the KEY to removing a clog. Without it, it's almost impossible to get them out. The service vac that I use is made by Eureka. I have pulled out thousands of plugs in peoples homes with it. It is very compact and easy to use, anyone can do it! If you have clogs often and are tired waiting and paying for service calls, I have the solution for you! We now offer the Central Vacuum Clog Removal Kit. The kit includes your very own eureka service unit and all of the items needed to remove clogs in your central vacuum system. Why pay for service calls when you can do it yourself! I you have clogs often it pays for itself and if you haven't already had one you're bound to, so be prepared. The Eureka service vac is portable (only weighs 7 pounds) and can also be used for other cleaning tasks and is perfect for the garage and outdoor tasks.

Central Vacuum Removal Kit

Eureka Service Vacuum
Eureka CV140 Yellow Jacket Compact Central Vacuum
The Kit Includes:
  • Eureka Service Vac
  • 5 ft. Service Hose
  • Pipe
  • Coupling
  • Inlet Connection
The entire kit is only $149.99! That that is less than the cost of some service calls!

To order the Central Vacuum Removal Kit click here

Veiw other Central Vacuum products

62 comments:

  1. Hi, I'm a new blogger you can find here at www.thecentralvacuum.com and your site is very related to mine; I thought it would be beneficial to both of us to do a blogroll link exchange. Please let me know if you're interested.

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  2. Thank you!! You helped me locate the clog--the hose--and fix it myself! Hurray for saving money! Your efforts are greatly appreciated in the quest for clean floors. : )

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  3. worked perfectly with a small shop vac thanks a lot

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  4. Thank you very very much, this work very well for me. I used my shopvac once or twice to pull the clog and everything that was clogged went through.

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  5. I used my 5hp shop vac and it only took a minute to do it. Thanks allot, great tips!

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  6. nice blog. I really read the article from start to the end and really enjoyed your blog. good job, thanks for sharing.

    Vacuum packing

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  7. Nice blog created by the blog owner its looking so attractive and have a quality to attract a visitor very easily. I like your post to its very effective and your blog template is according to your blog. Suction Unit, Suction Cup

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  8. Thank you so much. My husband used the shop vac, and after less than 5 minutes, the problem was solved allowing us to vacuum again.

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  9. Thanks for the helpful hint. Like anonymous immediately above, my shop vac had the problem solved in short order.

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  10. I like the article about hard drive recovery and how to keep the system clean too!

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  11. Thanks so muh!! Totally helped fix my central vac!! Just used the hose attachment on my old vacuum, worked like a charm!

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  12. I just tried to unclog it using the vacuum itself---I attached the hose to the unit itself and then brought it into the house to suck from the clogged port-- and to no avail, it didn't suck out--even though I have hella suction from the unit itself, just not at the one (two) inside outlets. I'm at a loss..... I've used shop vacs before but surely the beam itself has more suction than that! any ideas?

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    Replies
    1. If you try to use the vacuum itself you are creating suction going the other way you want to. In the example where you use a separate vacuum, there is no pull toward the built in canister, allowing the portable vacuum to reverse the flow and bring it back out.

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  13. I tried all the above methods without any luck. I then tried this: I opened one of the outlets (which turned on the vacuum.) Then I stuck a towel in the hole to block it (made sure it wasn't going to get sucked down the hole too!) When that was in place, I opened another outlet. It was difficult to get it open with the pressure that had built up. But as soon as I got it open, the clog cleared itself and all the outlets worked as they were supposed to.

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  14. Fantastic Blog, worked like a charm. We were really in a pickle and this fixed it in no time flat. We were about to auger it, thank goodness we looked here first

    5/5

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  15. You rock! Found the clog in about 10 minutes and fixed in about 5 more!

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  16. Tried everything recommended with no luck - had to auger! small hole but big enough to get the long string and hair-ball out with tweezers, then small needle-nose pliers. Luckily I could see where the clog was as the junction pieces were clear, which is how I spotted it to begin with. I then just covered the hole with a small piece of Tuck Tape.

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  17. Ya Hoo! Thank you thank you! The central vac is fixed and my husband's old shop vac is now broke! OH Well! he needed a new one anyway. The central vac has been stuck since New Years, and yes, pine needles came out. I shall never be stuck again!

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  18. Thank you aload off my mind! A d a few bucks in my pocket

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  19. Works like a charm. I let my canister get just a little too full.

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  20. freaking life saver you are. Big ball of hair came out

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  21. I just had the same problem today..

    To fix the clog, I ended up unhooking the line to the vaccum unit and plugging the line into the exhaust port of the vacuum. I then turned it on which caused the vacuum to blow into the line instead of sucking. this caused the clog to come out at the outlet.

    Problem solved in less than 10 minutes.

    Cheers

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  22. My husband unhooked the central vacuum unit and brought it in the house to the outlet that was plugged. We then used some of the exhaust pipe to go from the unit into the outlet and turned the unit on. Sure enough, the hairball that was stuck reversed itself and came right into the unit!! Problem solved using some reverse engineering!

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  23. This worked Beautifully! Now I can avoid having to tell my husband I clogged the vacuum!!!

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  24. Thanks for sharing this information about how to unplug a vacuum. It is a problem that everyone will deal with at least once in their life, if not multiple. As I have experienced duovac central vacuum systems, it has made it so my vacuum does not get as clogged and I have been very happy with the results. But thanks for sharing this information.

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  25. It worked I just took the hose attached it to the sucking hole on the wall and placed it in the CLOGGED whole in the wall and viola it now sucks perfectly and you saved me hundreds since this is a country home!!!

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  26. I was vacuming and a small towel was almost sucked up but I was able to grab it and pulled it out, the problem now is the light does not go off and on x-low it doesnt seem to be as good as before...Help...

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  27. QUAVAC Vacuflow Central Vacuum Station (a concrete cellar underground) has vacuum tank with specific size with vacuum pumps to create vacuum in the tank and also in the complete pipe network. Also, the central vacuum station will have a set of discharge pumps.
    For More…….http://www.quavac.con

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  28. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing on your rss feed and I’m hoping you write once more very soon!AGS Filtration Pvt. Ltd is a Native Indian organization of Worldwide reputation in the field of multiple demand and program Filtration.Suction Filters.

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  29. Worked perfectly. Probably 10 years of crap came out. Almost spent 1500 for a new until thanks.

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  30. A non-working vacuum is so frustrating. You saved the day! Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge.

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  31. Yeah. 5 seconds with the shop vac woo hoo

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  32. Shop vac worked like a charm. Thanks a ton!!!!

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  33. The clog I have might be on the floor (can't remember what it's called) under my cabinet. How do I plug up such a long openning to get the full suction to loosen the clog?

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  34. You are amazing!! This single mom loves the fact that she was able to fix this herself!! The plug was exactly as you said, closer to the canister...thank goodness because my pipes everywhere else are drywalled in!! THANK YOU!!

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  35. Vacuum Systems deals with technological processes and equipment that use vacuum to achieve better results than those run under atmospheric pressure.

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  36. Thank you. One of the inlets was not closed tight enough.

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  37. Thank you, Thank you , Thank you!!!! I had one line clogged, was looking online for a Central vac snake but found this page first. hooked up and old vac. to the port and presto!!! A big yellow capsul from my daughters last kinder egg. Just saved some serious cash!!!

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  38. This was awesome! My friend had a 6.5hp shop-vac, and it literally took 3 seconds to clear the clog. I just felt something hit the hose, and it was clear. Never really saw anything. Just for giggles, I went around the rest of the house and cleared all the ports. Thanks so much!!

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  39. Worked like a charm! We had accidentally sucked a cleaning rag into the line, and it didn't come out the other end. Borrowed a regular household vacuum cleaner to suck it right back up the line again. Thanks!

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  40. I accidentally sucked a sock into the line. I shut off the vac as soon as I realized what happened, but too late. I'm not sure whether to turn the vacuum on and see if the sock gets sucked to the canister, or try to suck it back out from where it entered. Suggestion?

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  41. My grandson put a match box car into the outlet. How do I get that out?

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  42. I had a clog where none of the inlets had suction. I had already tried the shop-vac at the inlet technique but decided to try again. This time, since the shop-vac hose did not entire seal at the inlet, I wrapped a towel around the hose after inserting into the inlet to form a tighter seal. I tried turning on the shop-vac alternating with opening a vac-pan and eventually I heard something enter the shop-vac. I must not have gotten it all out because I tested at the vac-pan and it was working for a few seconds and then was clogged again. So I repeated the steps and eventually got all of the clog. I did the plastic bag test and it collected in the central canister. Yay!! Just keep at it; it seems persistence pays off!

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  43. worked thanks very much

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  44. I think the things you covered through the post are quite impressive, good job and great efforts. I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading all of it... keeps it up, good job.

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  45. Have had central vac for 20 years with no clogs but tonight I accidentally sucked up a folded paper towel. Your suggestions did the trick and saved me $$$. Thanks so much.

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  46. Great tips. very well-written, keyword-oriented and incredibly useful. its really interesting to many readers. I really appreciate this, thanks

    Plastic Ducting

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  47. Awesome!! Thank you! Used my shop vac and it only took a minute. Could not believe that all that stuff could be in the pipes.

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  48. Fabulous!! I accidentally sucked a sock and it happened so quickly , didn't have time to shut it off the suction was already reduced. I used another vacuum at the basement inlet and the sock came right away! Thanks a million!

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  49. How do I determine which inlet is nearest to my unit? My unit is in the basement and there are 8 inlets throughout the house. I have no idea how the pipes are run and I can't see through the walls.

    The main unit is about the same distance in feet from 3 inlets on the main floor. Is there an easy way to tell?

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  50. My vac system has pipes in the attic and this is Nebraska with cold winters. After 13 years the system had no suction. In finally cutting the pipe in the attic I found it was clogged with hard dirt, like it had been mud that dried. Could the warm air from the house be causing condensation on the inside of the pipes in the cold attic and then the fine dust coming thru the pipe mixing with the moisture be causing this clog? This has happened more than once.

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    Replies
    1. Talked to vac dealer about my own clog. Not sure what my clog is yet. Dealer described your condition and gave the exact cause you write about. He suggested sucking up fine grit fish tank gravel to "sandblast" clogged line. Not sure this works but you can think about it.

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  51. Excellent article & helped me a lot to eliminate my clog.
    FYI, I found the use of a retractable workshop ruler invaluable to "busting up" the clog vs. using a plumbing snake that could damage the pipe.
    Mike

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  52. I love the writing skills! Very well said. I'm actually looking some related stuffs about this. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. I'm looking forward for your next post! I'll be happy to read it!

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  53. Excellent blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you!
    Plumbers in Houston

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  54. This post had added to my knowledge Sometimes, the higher vacuum power of central vacuum may require reduction (for example, when cleaning a delicate sheer fabric curtain). Excess vacuum is "bled off" by partially opening a bleed port or slot so i was not understanding How to handle this central vacuum cleaner calgary now i can try it out.

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  55. I figured that when it stopped sucking so much that might have something to do with it. Turns out, I was right!
    I took the vacuum in and got it back the same day. central vac

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  56. This is a great article looking at the sizes of vacuum in air duct cleaning. It is a subject close to our heart as we believe our child contracted asthma due to dirty vents and poor quality air.

    Professional duct cleaning

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  57. I really appreciate you sharing this info! I've been looking for some insights on ducted vacuum systems, and this helped me out a ton. It's cool to see that we have technology that helps our lives become easier.

    http://www.ellemscentravac.com.au

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  58. This will come in hand. I have noticed that my vacuum has lost some suction. I will have to try this out this weekend, hopefully it helps.

    Alena | http://www.premierclean.com.au/vac_index.html

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