Central Vac Retrofit 101

Central vacuum systems aren't just for new construction. Here are some basics for installing central vac retrofits.

Basic retrofittable central vac solution with backing plate, face plate and 90-degree connector.
CE Pro Editors · March 30, 2011

With the existing home market dominating the custom landscape, some CE pros have wondered if high-margin, high-customer-satisfaction categories like central vacuum installations are still viable.

It’s a category, like structured wiring or distributed audio, that is more often associated with new construction - but as the folks at M.D. Manufacturing emphasize to us, there is definitely room in retrofits for central vac, especially if your core clientele live in single-story homes.

M.D. Manufacturing’s Andrew Bransby runs through the Retrofit 101 of central vac.

Related: Anatomy of a Central Vacuum System: 5 Easy Pieces

10 Steps to Install a Basic Inlet
The backing plate and face plate of a basic connection create a sturdy anchor as they pinch firmly on the drywall. Here’s how to get it done:

  • Determine the interior wall spot for coverage of a 30-foot hose
  • Probe the wall, and spin 90-degree vacuum connector 2 inches to be sure of clearance
  • Determine accessibility from below or above the wall (Note: can go in the wall or in back of closet or cabinet)
  • Drill into the wall, verify the clearance and access
  • Cut the drywall from a trace of the backing plate
  • Feed the low-voltage wire
  • Attach the wire to the cover, glue a 90-degree connector to the backing plate
  • Insert the backing plate into wall, attach the face plate
  • Feed the pipe into the 90-degree connector and continue to the main pipe/wire run
  • Hang the power unit and hose hanger

Photos: 4 Prime Spots to Put an Inlet

5 Benefits and Tips for Existing Home Installations

  • Typically a one-day job, paid on the spot
  • Creates instant customer satisfaction
  • Start with single-story homes, with attic or basement
  • Start with non-electric inlets, using pigtail electric hose
  • Up-sell accessories on the spot (garage kit, petvac kit, special floor tools)

Are you going retro? Send photos of your intriguing retrofit projects to managing editor Arlen Schweiger at

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  Article Topics

News · Central Vacuum · Retrofit · All Topics
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