How Often Should You Empty a Central Vacuum?

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A central vacuum requires less maintenance than regular vacuums, but you still have to empty the tank less often. They have larger tanks to hold debris (up to 3 gallons) and filter material that keeps dust and allergens from escaping into the air.

With a central vacuum, it’s out of sight and out of mind. When it’s done, it won’t need to be emptied for 3-6 months, depending upon use, and when that time comes, it gets emptied without even lifting a finger.

With a central vacuum system, 80% of the cleanup is done by the suction of the vacuum and 20% by blowing air. Most upright vacuums, on the other hand, are 60-70% to blow air and only 30-40% for suction.

The accessories are virtually endless, from power nozzles for the floor to ceiling cleaning to hoses, carpet brushes, pet grooming

To keep your central vacuum working for years, empty the bag every few months and clean and replace additional parts as necessary.

Emptying the bag is a simple procedure, but different systems require different procedures.

Whole House Vacuum Filters


The purpose of central vac filters is to clean the air in the home and remove debris that could damage your central vacuum motor.

The vacuum cleaning process relies on vacuum filters to keep your vacuum running efficiently and at peak performance. Pollen is eliminated in the air and on surfaces, reducing allergic reactions.

You can beat out some built-in cartridge filters and wash others, but they should be replaced every five to six years. 

Inlet valves allow a 1.5″ hose to connect to a central vacuum system through a door or port.

The Filter

Inverted bag filters are built-in to the vacuum unit and do not need to be removed.

If you check your central vacuum filters at least once a year, you may not need to change them every year.

Some systems have filters that you can remove and dispose of with debris, and others have filters that you cannot remove.

If your filter is especially dirty, you can clean it with soap and water.

The filter and bag should be cleaned regularly, and the vacuum hoses should be checked if the system is not performing well.

 How much maintenance for the central vacuum system

Like many vacuum systems, a central vacuum system must be regularly emptied of dirt accumulated in its dirt canister. If your system uses a filter bag, that must be changed too

  • Follow the maintenance schedule for best performance.
  • You will need to clean and replace additional parts of the system periodically.
  • Check your maintenance schedule weekly to determine how often to empty your bag.
  • Check your filter every year, change it every three to five years.

Types of Central Vacuum Systems

Single piece cyclonic units

These types of vacuums use a single-piece filter that is attached to the hose. This allows the user to simply pull on the hose to remove all the dirt and dust from the entire system. These vacuums are typically used by apartment dwellers or people who live in small spaces.

The drawback to these vacuums is that they require a large amount of space.

Split canister cyclonic units

Split canister units consist of a dirt canister with a power unit mounted nearby.

To empty a central vacuum, unlatch the lower half of the canister and remove the dirt from the bottom.

This type of central vacuum system has two separate compartments: one at the top and one at the bottom. This allows you to easily empty both sections separately. Simply lift the top section off and place it on the floor. Then, tilt the bottom section down and empty it into a garbage container.

Inverted bag units

Vacuum units that use an inverted bag as a built-in filter will clean the filter without the need to remove the bag.

These systems use a plastic bag that is attached to the hose at one end and has a suction nozzle at the other. When you attach the hose to the nozzle, the bag inflates and pulls the dirt up into the filter. After the bag fills, you detach the hose and let the air escape. The bag can be removed and replaced when needed.

Paper bag units

The only removable bag on the list, this vacuum uses a seal to prevent dust from escaping.

A seal must be applied before removing the paper bag. The sealing tab is removed and placed over the intake hole to stop any dust from getting out of the bag. It is then merely a matter of installing a new paper bag.

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