Central Vac not picking up anything.


Hi Everyone,
This is my first posting. So please don't flame if i'm not doing this properly. I have a problem with my home's central vacuum. It's an old home (about 20 years), the vacuum pipes run through all 3 floors of the house (basement,main and 2nd). For some reason, the vacuum suddenly went to a very low suction rate, about 5% of what it used to be. I checked the hose and it's fine. I even used a plumbing snake but could only go so far into the lines and I haven't picked up anything in the lines that would account for the decrease in suction. I'm not sure about the layout of the lines and that may be a big factor in finding/fixing this clogged system. I can also go into the garage and post the model/make of the vacuum.
Anyone have any solutions they've tried or any suggestions as to what my next steps should be concerning the problem would be very helpfull and appreciated.
Thanks and sorry if this isn't the right newsgroup for the question.
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Odds are you picked up something that partly clogged the pipe(s). Kids' toys are usual suspects. They get stuck in a bend but the toy itself doesn't cause much of a problem and you don't notice anything wrong. But then other "stuff" gets hung up on the toy.
Anyway, one thing that often works is getting a shop vac and apply suction to the pipes where the "taps" are. You might even apply some pressure at the bottom while applying suction at the top.
Our previous place had a central vac and I had the devil of a time when it became clogged. I think the last thing that "worked" by blowing the obstruction out with a reversed shop vac.
To me, the main advantage of the central vac is that the motor noise is "someplace else." Accessories can be quite expensive (often more expensive than a "regular" vac.)
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On 28 Oct 2006 19:03:02 -0700, "edumacatedfoo"

Is it the bagless kind with a removable dust bin on the bottom of the motor unit and a vent to outside?
If so, unplug it, remove the dust bin, and reach way up inside. You will find a metal screen. Chances are you will find it plugged with hair and dust. Scrape as much off as you can, and then get a brush and brush the rest off. (This is a dirty job, be prepared with a can underneath to catch all the stuff.
If that isn't the problem, you probably have a clog. If it affects all the vacuum inlets, then the first place to look is where the inlet and outlet lines attach to the motor unit. There are usually flexible couplings held on with clamps. Loosen the clamps, pull the line out, and make sure there is no clog there. You can run your snake as far up the line in from that point too.
HTH,
Paul
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Most central units have a connector available right on the unit and a power on switch. Check suction at the unit. If none there then the clog or fan problem is right at the unit. Some Nutone units have lifetime motor warranty for original owner so if you have a Nutone with a motor problem, be sure to call someone who services Nutone units. I think the warranty includes labor. Newer Nutone have shorter warranties.
wrote:

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On 28 Oct 2006 19:03:02 -0700, "edumacatedfoo"

Disconnect the vacuum from the suction pipe and run it. If the suction at the vacuum head is normal then there is a restriction in the pipe system. I had to cut open my fixed pipes next to the 90 degree elbow joints to get at the obstruction. There was a whole mesh of fern leaf spines I had sucked up that were stuck in the elbows. The mesh would have allowed some air to pass through and yet not offer any surface resistance to a snake to detect. If at all possible replace the elbows with transparent ones.
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Those are some great suggestions.
I have the bagless kind and I have tried cleaning it all out to no avail. I'm going to try the suction right at the unit then I'm gonna try the reverse suction method John mentioned. If that doesn't do it, i'll have to look into getting somebody in to try their magic.
One thing though: sometimes when I plug the hose into the "tap", it takes a while for the vacuum to come on, I usually have to wriggle the hose around so that the metal band latches properly to the "trap". Do you think this might be part of the problem? maybe not enough of a connection?
I'll let you guys know how it goes and thanks again.
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edumacatedfoo wrote:

I just had a similar problem with an older (30 years) Sears central unit. The suction was very poor. It turned out to be a plastic, top hat-looking unit in the dirt separator. Unfortunately, the piece of plastic now costs $70. I only paid about a hundred dollars or so for the unit when it was new. But, a new one fixed it right up. But, do check suction right on the unit. If the suction there is ng, then you must look into the unit, as I did.
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On 28 Oct 2006 19:03:02 -0700, "edumacatedfoo"

IMHO:
Many central vacs have an inlet by the vac, have you checked this? Is the discharge blocked? Is the filter clogged? Have you found inlets that worked better than others? Have you tried snaking backwards from the vac to the inlets?
Just some questions to add to the many you might receive. ;)
later,
tom @ www.Consolidated-Loans.info
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