Central Vacuum System (VAC) for Enhancing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Central Vacuum System (VAC) for Enhancing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Central Vacuum Systems (VACs) for Enhancing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Looking back, I believe a good choice we made for enhancing indoor air quality (IAQ), was the incorporation of a Central VAC in our home.

We've used the Dyson Animal, Oreck, and Kirby--all with modest results.  While each can perform adequately well on carpeting, they simply don't (like every other upright vacuum cleaner) do well on hard floor surfaces such as wood and tile.  In any event, we've found that conventional upright vacuum cleaners often kick up some of the "nasties," you're attempting to clean, back into the air. 

Now that we have lived with a central VAC system, we would never design and build a home without one.  We selected a Vacuflo FC650.  According to Vacuflo, the FC650 consists of a filtered cyclonic power unit, utilizing cyclonic separation as its primary filtration and a replaceable pleated filter for its secondary filtration. Unlike central vacuum systems (VACs) that rely on permanent cloth filters, the performance of VACUFLO doesn't decrease as dirt accumulates.

As we built an airtight Passivhaus, of course we couldn't use a vented model that would penetrate the outside of the building envelope and compromise the airtighness of the building and cause depressurization.  The Vacuflo FC650 was well suited to the sheer size of the interior square footage of our home.  The Vacuflo FC650 is marketed as being capable of handling spaces up to 8000SF.  Its collection capacity is six gallons.  Compare that capacity to a conventional upright vacuum cleaner.

Even though the central VAC was plumbed early on--during our construction phase (rough framing of secondary wall system)--it was only brought online at the finishing punch-list phase.  The Vacuflo unit came with a variety of attachments including two roller types that you find on uprights, but instead of being driven by belts (which ultimately stretch and break), the rollers are driven purely by the suction power of the central power unit.  We found the system performed significantly better at cleaning carpeting than any upright we have used to date.  One may be surprised to see that even after running an upright, the central vacuum will remove additional debris that was left behind by the conventional uprights.

We purchased the optional dusting head and successfully used it to thoroughly clean our hard floor surfaces.  We were also able to very effectively dust and vacuum off the walls, windows, and trim without kicking up any dust--particularly the very very fine sawdust that had accumulated from sanding the unfinished hardwood floors.

The amount of super fine saw-dust was incredible and would have taken an extremely long time to remove with something like a swiffer (as effective as they are) or conventional static-type dusting rag.  While vacuuming, no discernible dust is kicked up.  I would suggest that one purchases the dusting head.  They run about $20.

This cleaning head also worked exceptionally well during our hardwood finishing phase as we were able to use it to suck up the very fine dust that remains after sanding the hardwood floor coatings with 180 or 220 grit paper.

The central VAC had wall access ports that flip open from a spring loaded tight seal and accept a 30 foot hose that can turn the system on and off with a toggle switch.  The port operates on low power.  The connecting plumbing terminates in the basement's mechanical room which is especially good for sound isolation.  The Vacuflo FC650's container can be easily removed as can its replaceable filter.

The total cost of the system installed was approximately $2000.  For that you get an appliance that, I believe, goes a long way towards enhancing the overall indoor air quality of your home.