Although it is rare for a ducted vacuum system to get blocked in the pipework it sometimes can occur and usually are quite simple to fix. The first thing you must eliminate is that the hose and fittings are clear. This is best done visually where possible, but if the hose is long then it may not be possible to see all the way down it. If you do have a blockage, unless it is close to the unit some of the other inlets will work fine you can check the hose on these other points to be sure. If they all seem blocked or low on suction, either there is a blockage closer to the unit or infact a pipe may be off and you are losing all the suction here.
Let's deal with a blocked inlet first.
Other inlets work fine, its just this one that has no suction, then yep its probably blocked. Many times when we un block these inlets we find things like sticks, hair clips, large paper clips etc. that may have got jammed on a fitting and gradually a build up of fluff and junk will block the pipe. This is easily fixed by using a portable vacuum cleaner to suck from the inlet backwards.
Here's a neat trick..... Unscrew the cuff off the end of your ducted vacuum hose (do not attempt this if you have a hose with on off switch on the handle, just standard hoses) and insert just the cuff into the hole. You will notice the ducted system will start now, at the same time insert your portable vacuum into the cuff (which will now seal well) and you are now pulling apart the blockage by two ways. As the blockage is usually close to the inlet (first fitting as a rule) the portable vacuum should eventually win and remove the rubbish blocking the pipe. Help this along by sometimes removing the cuff enough for the ducted vacuum to stop but in enough for the portable one to seal. You should hear a thud as it is moved and sucked into your vacuum.
Once you are happy it seems clear, I like to suck a piece of paper towel or a wet one through the system, this makes sure that the object that got stuck in the first place has also moved and you wont need to do this again in a few weeks! Check the bag or canister for the towel to ensure it is all good.
Now let's look at there is no suction anywhere.
More often than not this is a pipe fitting that has come adrift, usually because it was installed with strain on it and the glue eventually popped. The quickest way to find it is to start the system by inserting the hose, stick your head up the manhole and listen. Follow the pipework around and keep listening, you will soon be guided straight to the culprit. If needed to be modified so there is no strain on it, do it then glue everything all together with blue plumbers glue, much stronger than the clear stuff. Make sure to secure the pipes in place especially near fittings with pipe saddles.
The other cause of no suction may still be a blockage near the system, prove this by removing the pipe that goes directly into the system. Check the suction from the machine itself. If machine is sucking fine then it could be in one of the fittings quite close to the machine or the short one just inside the wall. If possible remove these pipes and check here.
9 out of 10 blockages can be fixed using these methods, if you are the other one, you will need to call for service. Call 08 8261 8223 for Adelaide or South Australia. Call 1800 050 333 for service by your local Valet dealer if outside of S.A.
How to unblock a blocked Ducted Vacuum System
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3 April 2011
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