DIY: Central vacuum-cleaner installation
Installing an InterVac remote vacuum-cleaner system in an unused area saves space and makes cleanup a breeze
Whether you’re parked in a low-dust, paved campground or in the middle of off-road racing pits, the dirt always manages to find a way inside a motorhome. Keeping a coach clean also helps keep it functioning, since dirt wreaks havoc on many appliances and accessories. There is an abundant selection of cleaning supplies and specialty items (think “As Seen on TV”) for home and motorhome use, not to mention the huge varieties of specific-purpose cleaning machines. Out of all these choices, the vacuum cleaner reigns king for most messy situations.
Quite often when dealing within the confined living quarters of a motorhome, storage space for a full-size stand-up house vacuum cleaner — or any vacuum for that matter — can become a bit of an issue. To the rescue is InterVac Design Corp., a company that has made a longtime commitment to developing practical, small-scale, high-power central vacuum systems. The company put itself on the map over the years as a leading manufacturer of permanently mounted, remote home, boat and RV vacuums. The InterVac Design vacuum systems consist of a small rectangular, rugged polycarbonate plastic housing, weighing around 9 pounds and measuring 9.5-by-8.25-by-3 15/16 inches deep. Of course, this is no ordinary plastic box; inside is a small yet powerful 12-amp, 120-volt AC motor creating impressive suction that makes the RMH model (remote mount hanging) practical for motorhome installations. The vacuum uses an internal five-layer, hypoallergenic filtration bag to catch and contain all debris. The company also backs up its fully American-made products with an astounding six-year guarantee.
Without a doubt the best attribute of the InterVac is its chameleon-like ability to adapt to nearly any situation. No matter what style or shape motorhome you’ve got, the InterVac has got an application that will suit just about any installation configuration. This is especially notable for the RM series if you’re seeking a truly custom remote location; the unit is designed for mounting in a basement or outer compartment. However, just because this particular model is mostly intended for a basement installation doesn’t limit installation possibilities. With a little imagination the unit can be installed in any area deemed dead space, which is exactly how we installed this vacuum.
Most InterVac models can be mounted by securing to a floor, flush mounting or hanging on a wall as long as there’s enough “breathing” space for the machine. To begin this install, the most important step is to find an ideal location to suit individual needs. Making sure there’s a good 120-volt AC power source that can be tapped into via a plug or hard wiring is one of the primary requirements. We used some completely out-of-the-way space under drawers that was not being utilized for anything and it also had access to a power connection relatively close by. If it’s necessary to route power to the vacuum housing, a receptacle and Romex wiring can be routed to the appropriate area.
After locating a home for the RMH vacuum housing, the install procedure relies on the well-written instructions, which have all the necessary mounting templates that are very accurate. Tape the cutout template to the chosen mounting surface and begin by marking the four screw positions with a pointed tool, like an awl. Since the template will likely not be needed again, just drive the screws right through the template and remove once all four screws have been set, leaving about 1/8 inch of the screw head sticking out.
The next step involves hose and duct routing, which is ultimately dependent on the number of inlet valves used (for connecting the hose) and where they are located. In our case, we installed one valve in a central location. Use of the backing plate provides a proper seal between hose and the plumbing. At this point it’s a matter of configuring the 2-inch PVC pipe and connectors using the appropriate glue and primer — and any other items to facilitate the install like cable ties and hose clamps. As mentioned earlier, unleash your imagination and creativity when designing the installation.
We also opted to install a VacPort, which is an inlet that is installed floor level at the base of a cabinet. It takes a little more effort to integrate this component into the system, but it allows debris to be swept close to the port and sucked into the vacuum bag without using the hose. The kit comes with the correct cutout pattern and a selection of flex hoses, elbows, T’s, Y’s and pipe that can be run between the vacuum and valves. When the flap on the VacPort is lifted, a pair of LEDs illuminate the area, the vacuum motor starts and the debris is sucked away as it’s swept into the opening. Obviously, the VacPort is best mounted where there is no carpeting. The vacuum is also activated every time any port door is lifted for inserting the ultra-user-friendly (lightweight) hose that stretches to 30 feet.
Pretty much all that’s left to do is the wiring. In most cases, when using the RMH (the model with the attached power cord and plug), no serious wiring is needed as it simply plugs into a receptacle. For this particular install we opted to run Romex wire from another outlet to a new one we had mounted on the floor right beside the vacuum housing. Coincidentally, the plastic outlet box was also mounted in such a way to help lock the RMH in place and allow it to be removed quickly for any servicing such as replacing an exhaust filter. Aside from finding the most suitable 120-volt AC power source, the only other wiring necessary is to the square and VacPort inlet valves. Two 20-gauge low-voltage wires are routed from each valve to the two yellow remote power wires located in the bottom side of the vacuum housing.
Once the installation is completed, using the InterVac RMH takes no more effort than plugging in the stretch hose along with your favorite convenient and highly functional attachments, which are part of the tool kit and offer all the basics. Additional tools and accessories are available. Dust bags can be purchased from the manufacturer or from online suppliers and can be replaced by removing the door on the vacuum housing, pulling out the full bag and tucking the collar from the new bag over a pipe.
The RMH model, part of the RM-120 series, can be found at Camping World and on the Internet for around $265; the VacPort is another $37. Both make great tools for streamlining cleaning of any motorhome while conserving precious storage space.
InterVac Design Corp. | 888-499-1925 | www.InterVacdesign.com