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
The Kit Includes:
- Eureka Service Vac
- 5 ft. Service Hose
- Inlet Connection
To order the Central Vacuum Removal Kit click here
Veiw other Central Vacuum products