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central vacuum (ARA) - It's a secret many contractors and remodelers already know, and one most homeowners only learn about as they begin to make home improvement decisions. But what makes the secret remarkable is that, once installed, it enhances every room, and makes a home healthier to live in, easier to clean, and a more valuable property -- yet it stays hidden in plain sight.

Even better in the eyes of some, it narrows the housework gap between men and women. The secret is disarmingly simple -- whole-house central vacuuming, a technology that's everywhere present and barely visible. Today's central vacuum systems have come a long way from the industry's original models. They're more powerful, convenient, sophisticated, quiet, versatile, reliable and affordable than ever before. They install easily in both new homes and older homes, where retrofitting is rarely a problem.

And -- consider it a bonus -- they actually lead men to vacuum.

A nationwide customer survey by M.D. Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of central vacuums, shows that central vacuums encourage men to more often share the work. Among central vacuum owners, 80 percent of the men who responded said they vacuum more frequently than before the systems were installed, while 59 percent of the women agreed -- they said their spouses do vacuum more often than before.

"One reason may be that central vacuums are more powerful, efficient and versatile than floor models," says Grant Olewiler, General Manager of M.D. Manufacturing. "Some, like our AirForce Central Vacuum, can even be set to automatically turn off when a phone rings. These high-tech features appeal more to men, and may help them think of the vacuums as they would a power tool or a muscle car.

"Even in an age of increasing equality between the sexes," continues Olewiler, "most women would be delighted to learn that simply purchasing a central vacuum could get their husbands doing some vacuuming. Most men would like to help around the house, but many cleaning devices are designed with women in mind." Among their many virtues, central vacuums are gender-neutral.

Central vacuums are valuable additions to a home for a host of other reasons as well, and are "one of the best investments you can make in your home," adds Olewiler. For one thing, central vacuums are healthier than portable vacuums. As confirmed by a study at the University of California's Davis School of Medicine, central vacuums totally eliminate the re-circulation of dirty air, as well as allergens and dust mites, inside a home's living area, creating a healthier long-term environment.

Central vacuums are also much more powerful than portable vacuums, delivering a superior clean in less time. Since central vacuums are based in garages or basements, they use stronger motors that can pick up dirt -- especially in carpets or fabrics -- that conventional vacuums can't. They're also remarkably convenient. Owners just plug the hose into special outlets installed around the house. There are no heavy units to pull, push or drag up stairs, no switches, and no electrical cords to trip over.

As with other built-in appliances, central vacuums increase the market value of homes in which they're installed. For less than the cost of a high-end portable vacuum, homeowners can buy a central vacuum and watch their properties' resale value rise by about $2,000 when appraised. They can also save money by prolonging the life of their carpets, drapes and furniture due to the superior cleaning power of central vacuums.

Today's models, like M.D.'s SilentMaster, are also much quieter because the power units are acoustically insulated and outside the living area, and much more versatile. For many, dozens of specialized attachments are available to clean any surface, including carpets, wood and tile floors, drapes, furniture, crevices, corners, staircases, ceiling fans, mini-blinds, cars, and more.

A central vacuum isn't often the first thing that comes to mind when a home is being improved, but it may well be the most practical.

For more information about central vacuums, their health benefits and other features, call (800) 525-2055 or visit the most comprehensive Web site in the central vacuum industry:

Courtesy of ARA Content

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