Central Vacuums 101: Frequently Asked Questions

Is your central vacuum acting up? If it’s making weird noise, or just doesn’t have enough suction, this video is for you. Andrew goes over many common problems or issues you might run into when dealing with a central vacuum.

Central vacuum systems are a good investment, but like all investments, they require routine maintenance. No matter what make or model vacuum you have, these tips will work for you!

 

Important Safety Tips

  • Always make sure your machine is unplugged and the power button is turned off, before servicing your vacuum.
  • Always make sure your hands are dry and free from moisture before servicing your machine.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when servicing your machine to prevent any cuts or scrapes.
  • If you are uncomfortable working on your vacuum, please don’t hesitate to contact us at service@greatvacs.com and we can help you through the process or you can send it into us to fix it for you. 

 

The Parts of a Central Vacuum Unit

 

You will notice four ports on the outside of a central vacuum unit. 

All of the ports on the bottom are for suction. The piping from your home will go into either the left or right bottom ports. Most homes only use one, so we will use that set up for our demonstration.

 

 

Your piping will hook up to one side and the other will have a length of PVC pipe with a cap on the end. A common problem we’ve seen is that homeowners hook up their pipe correctly on one side and leave the other side open, with no cap. When this happens the suction will go through the open port and you won’t have suction in the rest of your house.

 

The port on the front has suction, but you will also notice it has a lid with a seal. This needs to be closed for the central vacuum to have suction in the rest of your house. The purpose of this port is so you can attach the hose and vacuum the room where the central vacuum is located – like your garage or basement.

 

The port on the top is the exhaust port. Our units come with the exhaust muffler you see hooked up here. When the muffler is installed it will quiet the machine down while it’s running. Some people buy additional PVC piping and route the exhaust to the outside of the house. This blows the hot air outside and also further decreases the noise.

 

How a Central Vacuum Works

 

The central vacuum unit is usually installed on the wall of the garage. There will be piping that runs throughout the entire house and these pipes will end in hose connectors. The hose connection for our demonstration is right at the end of the suction pipe.

 

Your hose will plug into the wall outlet. Many central vacuum owners don’t realize that the wall outlet actually has wires that run all the way back to the central vacuum unit through the walls. These wires tell the central vacuum unit to turn on.

 

Each hose has two metal bands at the end that plugs in.

 

If you look inside the wall outlet you’ll see two brass tabs.

 

These brass tabs need to contact the metal bands of the hose for the unit to work.

 

There are two styles of hose. The first is “direct connect,” where you’ll see two prongs that stick out at the end. These prongs will plug into the port on the wall outlet when you plug the hose in.

The other style is “pigtail.” This style actually has a cord that comes from the hose and needs to be plugged into your standard 120V wall outlet.

All of our central vacuum units work with either hose style.

 

How Do Central Vacuum Wall Outlets Work?

 

As you can see in our demonstration, there is a wire that runs from the wall outlet to the unit. This wire send a signal when the hose is plugged to let the central vac unit know when to turn on. This means the vacuum doesn’t need to run constantly and you don’t need to go out to your garage to turn it on every time you want to vacuum!

If you were to plug your hose in sideways, both brass tabs would be touching the same metal tab. If this happens it will immediately tell the unit to turn on.

If your hose is turned off and you plug it in correctly the unit won’t turn on until you flip the switch.

 

Troubleshooting a Central Vacuum

 

Sometimes people buy a power nozzle and hose kit, go to use it, and then notice there’s no suction. The suction will not come from the power nozzle, wand, or hose. It will only come from the central vacuum unit. 

If you’re noticing that it’s not picking up as well as it used to, or as well as you think it should, you’ll want to check the suction at the unit itself.

 

First, make sure you hose is unplugged from all your wall outlets.

 

Then go out to the unit and find the on-off switch on the side. Flip it to on and the vacuum should turn on.

 

Once it’s on, go throughout your house and find all of the wall outlets. While the vacuum is running open each outlet and test the suction with your hand. If you’re having trouble even opening the flap you probably have adequate suction.

 

If you check the outlet and it doesn’t seem to have much suction, visually inspect it for signs of a clog. Check any piping you can access for clogs.

 

If there doesn’t appear to be a clog, you’ll want to check the tank on the bottom of the unit. Dump the dirt bin out and clean it. While you’re checking the dirt bin, go ahead and check that all of the filters are clean as well.

 

If the vacuum has good suction and everything is clean, you can move on to the hose. Make sure the flip the power switch on the central vac unit to off! This way it won’t just be running by itself without direction from the hose. 

When you plug the hose in make sure that the central vacuum unit turns on and that the power nozzle turns on. When you turn the hose on it should turn both of those parts on.

Now plug your hose in. In this example we show the pigtail style hose that needs to be plugged into the wall outlet. Depending on the style of hose, make sure it is plugged in correctly.

 

When you flip your hose switch to the #1 setting, it should just turn the central vacuum unit on. You should hear the suction turn on at the wall outlet when you do this. You can also go out to where the central vac unit is and make sure it’s on.

 

If you turn the hose to the #2 setting, both the power nozzle and the central vacuum unit should turn on. Some power heads have their own additional on-off switch, so after you turn the hose on check that the power head itself doesn’t need turned on!

 

Some power heads, like the one in our demonstration, need to have the pivot released for the power nozzle to turn on. If you were to turn the hose on with the pivot still locked, the power nozzle won’t turn on.

 

Now, if the power nozzle and the central vacuum unit are both turning on, but you STILL don’t have suction you’ll need to check the suction on your hose. Turn everything on, disconnect your hose, and check the suction at the end with your hand. If there’s poor suction there is likely a clog in the hose itself. You could try straightening a wire coat hanger and carefully insert it to dislodge any clogs. A broomstick also works to get at least a few feet into the hose.

 

One other trick you can try is inserting the end of the hose into the front suction nozzle of the central vac unit and try to suction the clog back out.

 

Two more places to check for clogs, if the hose is clear, include the main electrical wand and the power nozzle.

 

Disconnect the wand and you should easily be able to look through it. If you see light there is no clog and you can move in. If you see a clog you can use a coat hanger or broomstick and push it out.

 

 

If the wand is fine you can look down into the pivot of the power nozzle to check for a clog. You can also look behind the brush roll. If there is a clog you will typically see debris lodged there. If you see a clog in the pivot head you can try sticking the hose directly in to attempt to suck it out, or use a coat hanger.

 

Need a central vac? Check out the Prolux CV12000 featured in the video here!

 

Need to clean the filters on your central vacuum? We have a video for that!

 

If you need any parts, supplies or have any other questions, email us at service@greatvacs.com or leave a comment! You can also head on over to our YouTube channel to see more educational videos on all of our products.

 

 

Central Vacuums 101: Frequently Asked Questions

Central Vacuums 101: Frequently Asked Questions

Is your central vacuum acting up? If it’s making weird noise, or just doesn’t have enough suction, this video is for you. Andrew goes over many common problems or...

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How to Test Your Rainbow Vacuum Power Head

Is your Rainbow Vacuum Power Head not working like it should? Try this simple troubleshooting trick to see if the problem actually is your power head.

 

Important Safety Tips

  • Always make sure your machine is unplugged and the power button is turned off, before servicing your vacuum.
  • Always make sure your hands are dry and free from moisture before servicing your machine.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when servicing your machine to prevent any cuts or scrapes.
  • If you are uncomfortable working on your vacuum, please don’t hesitate to contact us at service@greatvacs.com and we can help you through the process or you can send it into us to fix it for you. 

 

Instructions

 

We are starting with the SE power head. Remember that warning to make sure your vacuum is turned off and unplugged when you service it? Well, this time you’ll actually need to plug it in! Then, take your two-prong connector and plug it in to the canister itself.

 

Flip the power head over and turn your vacuum on. In our video the power head does turn on. If your power head turns on when it’s plugged directly into the vacuum, the problem is likely in the hose.

If your power head didn’t turn on it could be a problem with the two-prong connection or something else within the power head. In that case send us an email to service@greatvacs.com with details about your problem and we can help!

 

The E series is the same process. Take the power head cord and plug it in to the canister. Then flip the power head over and turn the vacuum on.

 

Need a new Power Head or Hose? We sell them! Click the links below.

 

Rainbow Power Heads

Rainbow Hoses

 

Click Here to shop Rainbow Vacuums.

 

Need a Rainbow vacuum guide? Look no further. Check out this link!

 

Looking for more info? Check out our Education Center!

 

Need your Rainbow repaired? Send us an email at service@greatvacs.com

 

We sell Rainbow vacuums! We buy Rainbow vacuums! And we sell water bowls, belts, cords, or anything else you need! If you need any parts, supplies or have any questions, email as service@greatvacs.com or leave a comment! You can also head on over to our Youtube channel to see more educational videos on all of our different products.

 

How to Test Your Rainbow Vacuum Power Head

How to Test Your Rainbow Vacuum Power Head

Is your Rainbow Vacuum Power Head not working like it should? Try this simple troubleshooting trick to see if the problem actually is your power head.

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Red Light on Rainbow E2 Black!? Why?


Is the red light on your Rainbow E2  vacuum coming on? In this video we go into some common problems that cause this model to stop working, and the solutions to those problems!


Important Safety Tips

  • Always make sure your machine is unplugged and the power button is turned off, before servicing your vacuum.
  • Always make sure your hands are dry and free from moisture before servicing your machine.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when servicing your machine to prevent any cuts or scrapes.
  • If you are uncomfortable working on your vacuum, please don’t hesitate to contact us at service@greatvacs.com and we can help you through the process or you can send it into us to fix it for you. 


Supplies

  • Flat head screwdriver


Instructions



Gather the following four components: the canister, the main wands, the power nozzle, and the main electrical hose. Any one of these four could be the problem and the reason why the red light is coming on.




The first part you will check is the main power hose to make sure that it’s connecting to the vacuum cleaner properly. If there is anything blocking the prongs at the end of the hose, or if those prongs are bent, it will cause a bad connection and the red light will come on.




Also, take a look at the grey tabs at the same end of the hose. These attach the hose to the vacuum, so if they are broken or damaged the hose will not latch properly. Additionally, if the holes for these latches are damaged, broken, or blocked the hose will not be able to latch properly.

If these appear damaged, you can email us at service@greatvacs.com and we can help you with repairs.



To plug the hose in, lift up the flap for the electrical port and then firmly press the hose into place. You should see both grey tabs lock into place and you will probably hear it as well. It may help to apply pressure to one side and then the other as you connect the hose to the vacuum. If the hose connects properly you can move on.




The other end of the hose is one of the most common reasons for the red light to come on. Usually it is because the trigger lock is engaged. If the grey lock is all the way down it locks the trigger in the “on” position. If it is all the way up it prevents the trigger from being pulled at all. If it is in the middle/ neutral position you will be able to press the trigger on and off. If the trigger lock is all the way down and you are trying to turn your vacuum on the red light will come on.




Make sure that the trigger lock is in the neutral position – you can tell if it is correct if you can move the trigger freely.



Now, check the very end of the electrical hose – make sure it is not damaged and is still round. Also make sure the button lock is sticking out and working properly. Check the electrical connection and make sure there is no dirt, debris, or moisture on it.




If that looks good go ahead and check both ends of your wands for the same things! Make sure the electrical connections are clean and the prongs are not bent. Also make sure that the wand is still round and has not become bent.




If it looks good, insert the first wand into the hose and you should hear a click to let you know the button lock engaged. Repeat with the next part of the wand. If it all connects together with no excess play you should be good to go.




There is one more connection to check: the power nozzle. At the top of the nozzle is a pivot piece where the wand connects. There is a hole on the front for the button lock on the wand and an electrical connection at the top. Take a look at the electrical connection to make sure it is clean and not bent or damaged.



If it looks good go ahead and connect your wands and hose. Line everything up correctly and it should lock into place. If everything connected properly you don’t have problems with this part of the vacuum.

If any of these connections are not engaging properly go ahead and send us an email at service@greatvacs.com and we can help you troubleshoot it further.

The next step is checking out the power nozzle itself.



Disconnect the wands to make it easier to check out. Take a look at the bottom and you’ll see the brush roll and a round brush on each side. If there is a blockage around the brush roll, like a sock or an excessive amount of hair, that could be the issue. The red light will turn on if the brush roll cannot spin freely. Go ahead and turn it by hand to make sure there are no problems.




If that part checks out okay, you can go ahead and take the cover plate off the bottom. There is a grey twist screw at the back that you can turn with a flat head screwdriver to unlock.




There are four tabs, two in the middle and two at the back, that you need to unhook to get the cover off. Push the tabs on the sides, one at a time, as you lift the cover a small amount.



Once those are free you can push the tabs on the back in at the same time and lift the cover off.



Once you remove the cover you can check inside for blockages and check that the belt is not damaged and can spin freely with the brush roll.




To replace the cover snap it back into place and don’t forget to turn the lock screw.




Connect the power head, wands, and hose to the vacuum and try turning it on to see if the red light still comes on. Use caution when the vacuum is plugged in – do not stick your fingers or anything else in or near the power nozzle! When the vacuum is on you should be able to look under the power nozzle and see that all the brushes are all spinning.

If the red light is still on and the vacuum is not working, send us an email at service@greatvacs.com and we will help you troubleshoot it even further.

If you are still having trouble getting your vacuum to turn on and want to continue troubleshooting, we have another video with a bunch of tips and tricks to help you get working!

Need a Rainbow vacuum guide? Click here!

Here at Great Vacs we service and rebuild Rainbow vacuum cleaners, so if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave us a comment! You can also head on over to our Youtube channel to see more educational videos.

 

Red Light on Rainbow E2 Black!? Why?

Red Light on Rainbow E2 Black!? Why?


Is the red light on your Rainbow E2  vacuum coming on? In this video we go into some common problems that cause this model to stop working, and...

Read more