By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Tired of lugging a heavy canister vacuum up and down the stairs? Well, you're not alone. Many people are switching to a central vacuum system that's easier to use and removes dust and allergens from the air. You still have to move the hose and attachments from room to room, but that's nothing compared to hauling the machine around the house. These central units were originally designed for new construction when the walls are open, but today their streamline components make it possible as a retrofit.
The system is made of tubing that runs through switch-operated wall inlets where you plug in the flexible hose with the handle and attachments. The best location for the wall inlets is in a hall or open area of a room so you can easily reach inside closets and the farthest corners of rooms. The power unit is usually installed in a closet, basement or garage, where it can be easily accessed.
A professional will charge $1,282 to install a central system with a power unit, tubing and two wall inlets. That includes labor and material. If you have experience with electrical and carpentry projects, you can buy the components and install the system for $850, saving 33 percent. Budget more for the hose and handle and any attachments you want.
Don't want to get involved doing this job yourself? Click
Home Advisor, a free referral service that connects homeowners with local contractors, and type "vacuum system" in their Find Pro search box.
Read Consumer Reports' Vacuum Buying Guide.
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to install a vacuum system with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020