Is your Central Vacuum not working as well as it once did?
Use this troubleshooter to find the problem!
#1 - Electrical Failure.
- If the inlets are Supervalves, plug the power brush directly into the valve. If the power brush
works, the problem is in the high voltage lines in the hose – likely a blown fuse in the hose, but also look at #14.
- Check brush for bad neck tilt switch or reset button.
- Put power directly to brush motor to see if the motor is bad.
- Check cord connections from hose to brush.
- Check to see that Supervalves/Electravalves have 110 volts.
#2 - Clog somewhere else in the system.
- Check power brush.
- Check wands.
#3 - Clog vacuum tubing.
- Check fitting just inside inlet and just inside or right at the power unit for stuck
- Isolate exactly where clog is - by determining the inlet furthest from the vacuum unit that is not
suctioning well. The clog is between that inlet and the unit and is the one you will be working on. You can also find the clog by running 1 styrofoam ball (each numbered) through each inlet. Find
which balls made it to the power unit.
- Reverse vacuum with another portable vacuum or built-in vacuum (first disconnect built-in vacuum
unit from vacuum PVC line(s) coming from the home.) Suck from the inlet that is bad if your hose is long enough.
- Run electrician's fish-tape or plumber's snake, through pipe and try to hook
- Put hose end in, plug end to build pressure, then suddenly release. Do this with your hand over the
hose end. Try this multiple times from various inlets. The release will send a shock wave through the pipes and over time release the clog.
- You can even plug the hose into the unit, disconnect the intake pipe, and bring the hose to the
clogged inlet and suction it out.
- Run paper towel through as a "pigs" towards motor unit, then reverse suck with a
- Run paper towel through from motor unit toward portable at non functioning inlet.
*Very important: Now run paper towel through all inlets and make sure they all arrive in power unit. If they don't, repeat steps 1 through 6. *If these solutions will still not free up the line -
approximate where clog is and locate if accessible. (attic, crawls pace, closet...)
- Cut pipe and feel suction and visually inspect.
- Run paper towel through and listen for humming or vibration - possible nail in pipe or picture hung
with toggle into pipe.
- Run small string through from motor unit to inlet with portable then tie heavier string – attach
large object to heavier string. (always tie a safety line to large object to pull it back if needed).
- Locate exact location by creating noise w/ ping-pong ball. Insert in inlet and turn on unit (remove
inlet to get ball in). (Find least obvious way of lifting flooring or cutting into back of cupboard or ceiling to access clogged spot. Cut pipe, remove clog, patch back access.)
- Again run paper towel through each inlet.
- If only one inlet is clogged and cannot be fixed, relocate new pipe via existing installation
- Pipes that run underground can sometimes coagulate with debris from moisture.
i.Route out with long blunt object.
ii.Run 10 pounds of rice through system into unit, repeat.
iii.Trench old lines and replace.
iv.If lines run under concrete driveway, relocate power unit in area where accessible to locate.
- Re-route pipes from section that does work to section that does not work. Abandon any unnecessary
- Check for "wrong way" Y's or T's.
- Any recent construction or workers who might have driven nail into pipes (esp. closet organizers,
phones, or alarms)?
#4 Bad inlet - replace inlet & plug hose in again.
- Check to see if inlet is of same type w/contact points. If not; it may have a push button which
requires a latching relay.
- When replacing inlet look to see if old one had tape on inlet neck, if so: put tape in approximate
same location on new inlet. When re-installing vacuum, test for air leak: If slight hissing coming from inlet; additional tape required on inlet neck.
#5 - Low voltage wire cut.
- Recent construction done?
- Detached garage with unit located in garage? Recent digging?
- Re-splice broken wire (coppers together and tins together).
- Wires disconnect at unit (on M.D. units only) four coming from vacuum unit plus at least 2 coming
from house. Should be (1 black, 1 red , 1 from house) and (1 black, 1 yellow/or red, 1 from house).
- Re-route wire from any working inlet or power unit to any section of wire to inlet that does not
work. (Run under carpet, behind baseboards, stapled in corners or closets or down inside of walls. Try to tie it to existing bad wire and pull it through).
#6 - Clog in the hose.
- Reverse the hose at inlet on power unit. Suck it out.
- Drop a butter knife or heavy object through hose - sling it or squeeze hose & twist to get
- Shove garden hose through vac hose. (Don't turn water on!)
#7 Unit is good, pipes have leaks.
- Recent work done on house?
- Recent wallpapering or paneling? Inlet removed or re - installed wrong?
- Inlet lid broken?
- Hidden or forgotten inlet?
- Inlets installed in floor; pipe fell down or loose.
- Turn unit on and walk around house listening for a leak.
- Inlet roughed in but not found on finish?
- Pipe running underground has a break in it.
- Recent gardening or tree has strangled it.
#8 - The Power unit has bad suction.
- If multi-motored unit: are both working?
- Check power unit gaskets and cracks in housing.
- Improper voltage into power unit.
- Loose wires.
- Mini-breaker has malfunctioned.
- On cyclonic unit:
- Unit & debris in motor fan blades.
- Lint & debris on screen on intake.
- Too much back pressure from exhaust line.
- On bag type unit: Excessive amount of very fine plaster dust clogging primary or secondary
- Motor loose.
#9 - Short in power unit.
- Directly isolate low voltage leads alone (disconnect all auxiliary switches).
- Short in relay. (very rare)
#10 - Short in low voltage system.
- Recent attic work or someone in crawl space?
- Rats chewed through wire?
- Disconnect any splices you can find & check continuity of short.
- Worst case: re-route wire from any other working inlet or wire. (Possibly running wire behind
baseboards, under carpet, in closets, or in air ducts)
#11 - Relay getting power but not starting unit.
- Most likely motor brushes need to be replaced.
- Isolate motor and see if it works.
- Check wiring from relay to motor: Does it go through a mini-breaker?
- After replacing brushes: if it won't take them, then replace the motor.
#12 - The power unit is not getting electricity.
- Check house circuit breaker.
- Try vacuum in another outlet.
- Is the circuit breaker the right size for the power unit?
- See what all is on the circuit: is it overloaded?
- Continually recheck the system after you do get power to see if it was the vac that tripped the
- If necessary, have an electrician look at it.
#13 - Transformer and motor not getting power.
- Bad cord?
- Bad transformer, check for spark between 2 low voltage wires out of transformer.
- Bad relay, check points, arc across to see if it solves it.
#14 - Low voltage in hose is not working.
- If switch feels "mushy" then it needs to be replaced.
- Remove hose from wall and take apart the handle end. Look for lint or other debris in contact
- Make sure hose is being fully inserted into inlet.
- Hose may need to be replaced.