Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Air-Flo Central Vacuum Systems

One of the most common brands of existing systems that I service (and historically the most common system installed in the Chicagoland area) is the Air-Flo system, made for and installed by Central Vacuum, Inc, which for many years operated out of an office on Division Street in Chicago. Some of the first incarnations of this brand were brown and tan in color and from the early 1980’s. Manufactured by Thoro-Matic, they had one, two or three motors and looked like the system below:

The next ones were blue in color and made by M.D. Manufacturing in California. There were two models available, each using either two or three of the same motor. The CFM-2, with two motors and 8-gallon bag capacity, is still available as the Modern Day Model B2. Below are some of the CFM-2 units I have serviced:

Available concurrently with the CFM-2 was the CFM-3, which had three motors and used 12-gallon bags. Typically installed in larger homes, these units were always hard-wired to a 30-amp circuit breaker. The smaller CFM-2 was plugged into a standard wall outlet on a 15- or 20-amp circuit. Here are some pictures I have taken of various CFM-3 units:

Note, even though the CFM-3 is no longer in production (the recommended current unit has two larger motors, instead of three smaller motors), all parts including bags, filters, motors, hoses and attachments are available through Just Central Vacuums, Inc.

Air-Flo units were installed with proprietary inlet valves, manufactured exclusively for Central Vacuum, Inc., which looked like this:

These inlets, based off the old Filtex “Automatic” inlets, turned on when opened, and had an opening slightly larger than industry-standard, meaning that “universal” central vacuum hoses purchased today fit poorly. The good news is, Just Central Vacuums not only has hoses to fit these old inlets (including electrified hoses), we also are able to replace these inlets with new industry-standard inlets that allow you to use a hose with a fingertip on-off control, eliminating the need to unplug the hose to turn the system off. An added benefit is that since the new inlets turn on only when the hose is inserted, they eliminate the loud rush of air when the inlet door is opened.

Even though Central Vacuum, Inc. stopped installing these systems and closed its Division Street offices nearly ten years ago, JCV continues to provide support to the many tens of thousands of systems they installed over the decades. If you have one of these systems, call us at (630) 608-0175 or go to www.justcentralvacs.com to get a coupon good toward your next purchase, plus a service sticker to affix to your central vacuum unit. We look forward to helping you keep your Air-Flo central vacuum working for many years to come.