What is Tubing Vacuum?

Tubing vacuums, also known as central vacuums, are a type of vacuum system that uses tubing installed inside walls and ceilings to connect to inlets around the home. When it’s time to vacuum, you attach a hose into one of the inlets. The suction comes from a central motor and collection canister, usually installed in a garage, closet or basement.

The concept of tubing vacuums originated in the 1860s, but the first patented tubing vacuum system was developed by Ohio inventor H. Cecil Booth in 1901. His system used canvas hoses rather than tubing. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that tubing vacuums started to gain popularity for residential use, with companies like Electrolux marketing tubing vacuum systems that used lightweight plastic tubes.

Over the decades, tubing vacuum technology continued to evolve with improved motors, filtration and convenience features. By the 1990s, tubing vacuums had firmly carved out a niche in the vacuum cleaner market, touting benefits like high suction power, whole-house coverage and reduced noise. Today, tubing vacuums remain a popular high-end choice for homeowners wanting an advanced cleaning system.

How Tubing Vacuums Work

Tubing vacuums are a unique type of central vacuum system that utilize tubing installed inside walls and ceilings to connect to wall-mounted inlets throughout a home. This tubing leads back to a central motor unit, typically installed in a basement, utility room, or garage.

The central motor unit contains a powerful motor and collection bag or canister. When a vacuum hose is inserted into one of the inlets and the unit turned on, suction is created through the tubing network. This allows the user to vacuum by simply moving the hose between inlets in different rooms.

Tubing vacuums operate via a tubing network rather than relying on a motor inside a mobile canister unit. The tubing is installed similarly to electrical wiring, concealed inside walls, floors, and ceilings with access points in each room. This creates an integrated vacuuming system throughout the home.

Compared to traditional vacuums, the tubing allows for superior suction power since the motor can be much larger when not constrained by a mobile unit. The central motor unit generates suction strong enough to operate even long tubing runs over 50 feet. This makes tubing vacuums extremely effective for whole home cleaning.

The lightweight hose eliminates the need to lug a heavy canister while vacuuming different levels and rooms. With no cord drag, vacuuming is easier and faster. The central design also contains all the dirt, dust, and allergens in one location, rather than recirculating particles as portable units can. Overall, tubing vacuums deliver convenience and cleaning performance.

Advantages of Tubing Vacuums

Tubing vacuums offer several key advantages compared to traditional vacuums:

Flexibility

The flexible hose and long tubing allow you to easily maneuver around furniture and reach tight spaces like under beds or sofas. You don’t have to move heavy furniture to vacuum every spot. The lightweight tubing is easy to extend, retract, and bend to access all areas of your home.

Easy Storage

Tubing vacuum systems feature compact main units that can be installed in closets, basements, or garages. This frees up space and eliminates the need to haul around a bulky vacuum cleaner. The tubing tucks neatly away into walls and baseboards. With no large appliance to store, tubing vacuums are ideal for small homes.

Less Noise

With the motor and dust collector located in a separate unit, often in a different room, tubing vacuums operate much more quietly than standard vacuums. Without the noise of the motor next to the cleaning head, you can vacuum without disturbing others in the home. This makes tubing vacuums great for cleaning at any time of day or night.

Disadvantages of Tubing Vacuums

Tubing vacuums have some drawbacks to consider before purchasing:

  • Limited suction power – Because the motor and collection bin are located in a separate unit, tubing vacuums tend to have less suction power compared to regular upright or canister vacuums. The narrow tubing restricts airflow, reducing suction strength at the cleaning head. This can make it harder to thoroughly clean carpets or pick up larger debris.

  • Hose durability – The plastic tubing used on these vacuums can become brittle and prone to cracking over time. Kinks or tight bends in the hose can cause it to split open. Replacing the tubing on a central vacuum system can be costly compared to a vacuum with a standard hose. It’s important to be gentle and avoid tugging or straining the tubing.

  • Limited reach – The fixed inlet valves around the home limit the reach of the hose. You may need to install additional inlets to conveniently access all areas. This can add to the overall cost. With only one hose, cleaning large homes can take more time as you move from room to room.

  • Higher upfront cost – Installing a built-in tubing system requires professional installation labor and costs more compared to a portable vacuum. The central unit and tubing installation can run over $1000. Upkeep costs are also higher due to possible tube repairs.

  • Noise – Hearing the loud motor noise throughout the home can be distracting and irritating for some. Operating a tubing vacuum is noticeably louder compared to a self-contained portable vacuum.

Overall, tubing vacuums involve some tradeoffs in terms of power, reach, and durability compared to regular vacuums. Considering these disadvantages before installing a system is important.

Types of Tubing Vacuums

Tubing vacuum come in several different types, each with their own advantages and use cases.

Central Vacuums

Central vacuums are the most powerful type of tubing vacuum. They utilize a central motor unit installed in a garage, basement or utility room. Vacuum inlets are installed in walls and ceilings throughout the home. Tubing runs through walls, floors and ceilings to connect inlets to the central unit. This allows you to simply plug the hose into any inlet as you clean different rooms. Central vacuums produce very high suction power since there is no loss of suction over distance. They also filter dust and allergens outside of living spaces. However, central vacuums require professional installation and can be expensive.

Inlet Vacuums

Inlet vacuums work similarly to central vacuums, with inlets installed throughout the home. However, the motor unit is mounted directly onto one of the inlets instead of being in a separate location. Tubing runs from the inlet with the motor to additional inlets in other rooms. This provides high suction and the convenience of built-in inlets for easy access. Inlet vacuums are simpler to install than central vacuums. But the motor unit on the wall can be noisy when in use.

Fixed Vacuums

Fixed tubing vacuums have the motor unit and collection canister permanently attached to one inlet location. Tubing then runs from that inlet to additional inlets placed in other rooms as needed. This is the least expensive type of tubing vacuum. But suction power decreases over long tubing distances. The fixed location of the motor also reduces convenience.

Retractable Vacuums

Retractable tubing vacuums use a hose that can extend and retract on a reel to provide access to different rooms. The motor and collection unit is in a fixed location. Retractable hose systems allow you to vacuum multiple rooms from one inlet location. However, the hose may snag and get damaged over time. Suction power also diminishes at longer hose lengths.

Key Features to Look For

When shopping for a tubing vacuum, there are a few key features to consider:

Suction Power

The suction power determines how effectively the vacuum can pick up dirt, dust, pet hair, and other debris. Tubing vacuums are powered by the central motor, so they generally have much greater suction capabilities than portable vacuums. Look for a model with a suction power rating of at least 100 air watts for optimal cleaning performance.

Hose Length

The hose length determines the reach of the vacuum for cleaning your home. Longer hoses of at least 30 feet allow you to vacuum multiple rooms without having to relocate the central unit frequently. Opt for the longest hose that will reasonably meet your needs.

Accessories

Tubing vacuums come with a variety of attachments and accessories for specialized cleaning tasks. Look for accessories like crevice tools, dusting brushes, upholstery nozzles, and pet hair tools. The accessories should conveniently attach to the hose or wand. Having the right tools makes it easier to clean ceilings, walls, furniture, stairs and hard-to-reach areas.

Top Brands

Tubing vacuum systems come from a variety of brands, but some of the top names in the industry include:

Hide-a-Hose

Hide-a-Hose is one of the most popular and well-known tubing vacuum brands. Their systems feature flexible hoses that can be hidden away when not in use, helping maintain a sleek, clean look in the home. Many Hide-a-Hose systems utilize central vacuums with the power unit installed in a basement, garage, or utility closet and tubing routed through walls and floors to inlet valves around the house.

Hide-a-Hose offers both DIY and professional installation options. Their tubing is designed for easy user installation. Their central vacuums come in a range of sizes and power levels to suit homes large and small.

Vacuflo

Vacuflo is another leading brand in tubing vacuums. Like Hide-a-Hose, they focus on central vacuums with hidden tubing running throughout the home. Vacuflo systems are known for their strong suction power and durability.

Many Vacuflo models utilize cyclonic technology and bagless dirt collection for convenience. Their systems also include HEPA filtration to help improve indoor air quality. Vacuflo offers professional installation but also creates DIY-friendly systems.

Cyclovac

Cyclovac central vacuum systems feature cyclonic technology for powerful cleaning performance. Their systems include long-lasting tubing installed through walls and under floors to inlet valves around the home.

Cyclovac emphasizes energy efficiency in their vacuum motors. Low power consumption helps make their systems affordable long-term. Cyclovac also utilizes HEPA filtration to capture allergens and keep indoor air fresh.

Like other top brands, Cyclovac systems can be professionally installed but also accommodate DIY installation. Their tubing is flexible and easy to route throughout a home. Overall, Cyclovac is a reliable option for high-performance tubing vacuum systems.

Installation and Maintenance

Proper installation and maintenance are key to getting the most out of your tubing vacuum system. Here are some tips:

Professional Installation

  • Hire a qualified professional to install the system. Improper installation can lead to poor performance and potentially hazardous electrical issues. Professionals have the right tools and expertise.

  • Make sure ductwork is properly sealed and insulated. This prevents leaks that reduce suction power. Insulation also keeps noise levels down.

  • Use smooth interior ducts. Rough or ribbed ductwork causes turbulence that reduces airflow.

  • Minimize bends and elbows. Straight runs are best for maintaining airflow.

  • Install the power unit in a location that minimizes noise and provides adequate ventilation.

Cleaning Filters

  • Check and clean filters regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. Clogged filters reduce suction power.

  • Use genuine filters made for your model. Aftermarket filters may not fit right.

  • Take care not to damage the filter when removing it for cleaning. Damaged filters allow more dust through.

  • For washable filters, avoid using harsh detergents or chemicals that could damage the filter.

  • Allow filters to air dry completely before reinstalling to prevent mold growth.

  • Replace filters at least once a year or when they show signs of deterioration. Worn filters are less effective at trapping dust.

Regular professional maintenance can also help keep a tubing vacuum running at peak performance over its lifetime.

Costs

The costs of a tubing vacuum system can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the installation. Here are some factors that affect pricing:

  • Central unit – The central vacuum unit itself can range from $300 for a basic model to over $1000 for a high-end model with advanced features. Expect to pay $500-800 for a good quality unit.

  • Tubing – The tubing that runs through the walls costs around $0.70-1.00 per foot. A 2,000 sq ft home would need around 250-300 feet of tubing.

  • Inlets – Inlets (vacuum outlets) cost $15-30 each. Plan on installing one inlet per room.

  • Labor – Installation labor can be a significant cost, ranging from $1000-3000 depending on the complexity of the install. DIY installation can save substantially on labor.

  • Additional accessories – Items like mounting brackets, tubing connectors, and electrical work can add a few hundred dollars.

  • Whole home pricing – For a typical 2000-3000 sq ft home, a full tubing vacuum installation with a good quality unit will likely cost $2000-3500 if doing DIY installation, and $3000-5000 to have it professionally installed.

The benefits of a full home tubing vacuum system can make the upfront pricing worthwhile when compared to using portable vacuums. The system can last 15-20 years with proper maintenance.

Conclusion

Tubing vacuums are a great option for whole home cleaning thanks to their powerful suction and flexibility. Key points:

  • Tubing vacuums use suction power generated in a remote canister and sent through tubes to clean hard floors, carpets, upholstery and more. This gives great cleaning with less noise.

  • They are very versatile for cleaning different areas and surfaces throughout the home. The tubes and attachments can reach difficult places like ceilings and under furniture.

  • Maintenance is easy since the tubes keep dirt in the canister, not clogged in the vacuum head. Filters are washable too.

  • Installation is simple, just mount the canister and outlets. No ductwork required. Tubes neatly tuck away when not in use.

  • Major brands like Miele, Kenmore and Simplicity make reliable tubing vacuums in different price ranges. Look for powerful watts, long cords, attachments included.

For whole home deep cleaning power with less noise, tubing vacuums are a great investment. Focus on suction power and quality when choosing a model. Proper installation and maintenance will keep it running smoothly for years.

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