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Are Central Vacuum Hoses Universal?

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Central vacs offer inlets in all rooms of a house yet the main bulk of the vacuum is discreetly housed out of the way, typically in a closet, garage, or basement. Have you just purchased a home with a central system but perhaps one of the hoses for the system is in need of replacement? Are these hoses universal? You're in luck because we've researched all about these hoses and will share our findings below!

Many companies offer universal central vacuum hoses. You can use a standard universal hose with any central vac or hidden hose system. However, for best results, you will want to examine your vacuum system inlets to determine whether standard, low voltage, or an electric hose are what your system uses.  

Now that we've established what you need to look for to find the perfect universal replacement, continue reading below for a comprehensive guide on how to inspect, troubleshoot, or pick the very best hose replacement for your system.

Parts of the central vacuum system, Are Central Vacuum Hoses Universal?

Inlets Matter

For best results, you will want to inspect your hose inlets on the wall. This is what your central vacuum hose connects to. There are a few clues on this end to determine which hose replacement will best serve you and your system.

Standard

Close up of central vacuum cleaner hose plugged in to wall inlet socket

The standard hoses or no-volt hoses plug directly into any wall inlet and solely use suction to run. If you have a system with an electrical inlet and a powerhead, the standard hoses will not be able to run the electric powerhead.

Electric

Electric inlets can be used with standard, low voltage, and direct connect hoses. They allow the use of a powerhead with the hose. Low voltage wiring is used to allow the user to turn the central system on and off with a switch located on the hose, but not powerful enough to run an electric powerhead. To run a powerhead with a low voltage inlet system, you will want to purchase a hose with a pigtail plug.

The direct connect has two prongs for the inlet end to plug into and the pigtail will have a typical hose end with a cord attached. It is reported that the pigtail hoses are compatible with 99% of central vacuum systems and are the best choice when upgrading hoses.

Hidden hoses

The hide-a-hose systems, which use the powerful suction of the central vac to hide the hose in the piping conveniently out of the way, are able to be installed into most existing central vac systems. The inlets are retrofitted with the hide-a-hose inlets.

Hose Handle

If you have a hose handle with a two-prong female plug, this means that you have an electric-powered inlet. You will need to determine whether your wall inlet is a direct connect or requires a pigtail cord.

Lengths

Most universal hoses have a 30-foot length; however, if you're replacing your hose, it may be worth it to upgrade to at least a 35-foot or even longer one. This covers more square footage without the need to disconnect and reconnect to a different inlet port. 

Are central vacuum powerheads interchangeable?

Central Vacuum Direct reports that almost all powerheads are interchangeable between manufacturers. You will, however, want to make sure that the attachment set uses a 1.25-inch fitting.

How long do central vacuum hoses last?

The central system itself has a very long lifespan for a vacuum. That is as long as they receive proper care and maintenance. Some homeowners report their systems lasting up to 30 years! The average lifespan is reported to be 20 years. Sadly, the hoses generally have a much shorter lifespan and it really varies depending on usage.

The hoses put up with significantly more wear and tear than the main system. They are jerked upon, stepped on, rubbed against, and sometimes suck up sticky or other undesirable things. They are the workhorse of the central system and will need replacement or repairs long before the main system ever does.

Can a central vacuum hose be repaired?

Yes! Good news, the central vacuum hoses can absolutely be repaired! Many times a repair is all that is needed. If you are using a low voltage or direct connect hose, manufacturers have reported that if the hose is no longer turning the system off or on, it is usually a worn-out switch assembly. Oftentimes this is an inexpensive, simple repair with a new switch assembly. There are also handle replacements, kits, and cuffs all available for purchase to repair hoses.

How do you test a central vacuum hose?

To rule out the powerhead as the issue, you'll want to unplug the pigtail cord from the hose, plug the pigtail directly into the powerhead, then plug the other end into the wall. Turn your powerhead on. If it turns on, you know your issue lies within the hose. If it doesn't turn on, you know that is your issue.

To check if the problem lies in your hose, you will want to plug the hose directly into your main central vacuum unit. It's important to do this to rule out the possibility of a clog or another issue being in the wall pipes. If your hose does not work when plugged directly into the main unit, then you know it needs to be serviced or replaced.

To be sure your hose actually needs replacing and not just some routine maintenance and cleaning, you should follow these steps:

1. Inspect

Closely inspect the hose for a clog. This is the most common culprit of suction loss in hoses. Lay your hose on a flat surface and insert a flexible hose brush through the length of the hose to remove any possible clogs or stuck debris.

Check out this flexible tube brush on Amazon.

2. Clean

You can wash the hose to further clean out any stickiness or stuck-on debris. Inspect to see if any water is coming out of holes or cuts in the hose.

3. Dry thoroughly

This step is very important. You will want to dry the hose thoroughly prior to using it again. This step is best achieved if you are able to hang it from a high surface and allow it to air dry.

A good plan for long-term cleaning maintenance is to occasionally use pipe and hose cleaning cloths in your hoses. These are very simple to use. You simply suction up one or two sheets into your hoses and they clear the piping and hoses on the way to the main unit, improving suction and freshening the filter bag in the main unit.

Check out these pipe and hose maintenance sheets on Amazon.

In Summary

You can confidently replace your central vacuum hose without having to visit the manufacturer of your particular model. There is a wide range of universal hoses on the market if you feel you are in need of a replacement or an upgrade. Just a few quick inspections will help you decide exactly the type of universal hose you will want to purchase, or perhaps a repair is all you will need. Whatever the case we hope this guide has been helpful in determining your next steps.

If you've enjoyed this article, consider these for further reading on central vacuum systems:

Central Vacuum Not Turning On -What Could Be Wrong?

5 Best Central Vacuum Cleaners

Not Enough Suction From A Central Vacuum – What To Do?