25 Tools You Need to Install Central Vacuum Systems

From a pencil to a ladder to a cordless drill, here are the 25 necessary tools to install central vacuum systems. It is not that difficult … it’s simply the combination of low-voltage electronics and PVC pipe.


Only 16 percent of residential custom installation companies installed central vacuum in 2013 according to the CE Pro Readership Study. That means you have a built-in advantage in the industry because 84 percent of the companies you are competing against are not offering it. If you do not offer it and the homeowner or builder wants CVAC, it also means that he will be introducing another contractor to the job… one that could take the entire project.

In a nutshell, central vacuum is a power unit, sometimes called the “can,” that creates the suction for the system. It is routinely placed in the garage, basement or utility room where other water or HVAC equipment is housed. Next is the hose and attachment set. That is typically 30 feet in length. There are longer sets available. A 30-foot hose in an arc from the outlet will cover 600 to 700 feet of living space. The outlets are then strategically located throughout the rest of the home based on the area of coverage from those 30-foot hoses. The difference between a central vacuum system and any other type of system is that those other will inherently exhaust dust and dirt back into the room based on the way they are designed while a central vac will remove 100 percent of the dirt and dust it comes in contact with.

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Many integrators struggle to understand the “fit” of CVAC with the home technology industry. Integrators are used to selling technology and pulling wires, so they wonder, “Why in the heck am I gluing PVC pipe together?” Well, it is PVC pipe… with some low-voltage wiring connected to it. Historically, CVAC was not plumbing. It was not high-voltage electrical. So by the nature that there is low-voltage wiring that needs to be connected to it, central vac found a niche with integrators.

25 Tools you Need

There is nothing out of the ordinary tool-wise that integrators need to carry to install CVAC. Each of these tools are typically going to be carried by a custom electronics technician, except perhaps a PVC pipe cutter, but if technicians are running wire in conduit, they will already carry that tool.

  • ½-inch Right Angle Drill (Milwaukee makes a good one)
  • Reciprocating Saw – Fine tooth wood blade – OPTIONAL
  • 2¼-inch self-feeding Wood Boring Bit with
  • 4-inch long shank
  • 12- to 18-inch Bit Extension – ½-inch shank
  • 2-foot to 100-foot extension cords, heavy duty
  • Ladders – 6-foot and 8-foot
  • Hammer
  • Wire Cutter/Stripper
  • Tubing Cutter – Special CVAC Pipe Cutter
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wood Chisel – ¾ inch – OPTIONAL
  • 33-foot tape measure
  • Cordless Drill
  • Light for attic & crawlspace installation
  • Torpedo Level
  • Small Flashlight
  • Pencil
  • Wire nuts –small blue
  • PVC glue
  • 8-inch wire ties
  • 1-inch Roofing nails or screws
  • ¾-inch #8 screws
  • ¾-inch wire staples

For retrofit installs, integrators might have to use a 9/16-inch bit for easier installation. Do not use hacksaws to cut tubing. Use tubing cutter specified. Ask your distributor or sales person for details.

About the Author

Jason Knott
Jason Knott:

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald's Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.


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