As central vacuum systems gain interest, remodelers can provide clients with built-in tools to keep their homes looking great. “This product category has grown by double digits in two out of the last three years,” says Larry Hartley, marketing director for Beam Industries, a division of Electrolux Home Care Products North America. “A lot of that is because of the increased focus on health in the home.” Laid out with vacuum valves in key areas of the home and a dirt collection canister mounted in a garage, basement, or utility area (see illustration), central vac systems let users remove dirt from living spaces without exhausting it back into the home. HEPA and other strong, permanent filters capture allergens and improve in-home air quality and cyclonic models eliminate the need for a filter.

Susan Schlapkohl says convenience is also key. “As people get older, it's hard to drag a vacuum around the house, and you're also losing storage space with bulky uprights,” says the president of Inter-Vac, Palm City, Fla. Instead, central vac systems remain stationary while the user simply plugs the portable hose and wand into the nearest valve.

Standard hoses range from 30 to 50 feet long, making it possible to reach up to 1,500 square feet of floor area from a single valve.

Courtesy Beam Industries

While it may be easier to install central vac during a remodel where some teardown is already involved, manufacturers say the affordable systems aren't just for new construction anymore; Hartley says that nearly a third of all installations are existing home retrofits. The affordable systems range from a few hundred dollars to $1,500. “These systems have a very high satisfaction rate among homeowners and help increase the resale value of homes,” Hartley says. “A consumer who has a central vacuum system in their home will insist on a new system when they move to another home.”