Vacuum Plumbing – Cost Savings in Health Care Facilities

by 352adminApril 22, 2013

Vacuum Plumbing Provides Cost Savings in Healthcare Facilities

In almost any type of building an AcornVac Vacuum Plumbing System is a clean, convenient and cost saving choice. Vacuum plumbing provides the facility owner a cleaner environment and lower installation and maintenance costs. It also allows unlimited freedom and flexibility in building layout design and construction.

Vacuum plumbing operates on the principle of having a majority of the waste piping network under a continuous vacuum and because of that, the waste piping can be routed without the need for continuous slope. That means architects and designers can basically locate plumbing fixtures “at will” for an open architectural environment and flexible space planning.

Before we get into that however, let’s take a look at the benefits a health care facility might be most interested in. While everyone wants a clean environment, it is particularly important in hospitals and other health care facilities and impacts their bottom line significantly.

Keeping the environment clean and free of bacteria is a top concern for health care facilities. According to the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) hospital infections add more than $30 billion annually in hospital costs. There are many things patients and caregivers can do to reduce the rate of infection but engineers and architects can also play a role in reducing infections and costs through design.

Vacuum Plumbing How It Works

Click on the picture for an animated view.

Vacuum Plumbing is Clean

In an earlier post, we discussed how a vacuum toilet eliminates a flush plume. A flush plume is the contaminated water droplets released into the air each time a gravity toilet is flushed. The vacuum toilet uses atmospheric pressure to push toilet waste into the vacuum piping completely eliminating the flush plume.

Perhaps just as significant in the battle against infection is the vacuum system piping itself.

Gravity waste piping is typically located underground or in the ceiling space of the floor below. Leaks in gravity waste piping allow wastewater to drip out of the pipe, creating a breeding ground for infectious material and pathogens. What’s worse, those leaks can go undetected for long periods of time.

If waste pipes in a vacuum plumbing system develop a leak, air leaks into the pipe and no wastewater escapes the system, leading to a more sanitary environment. Those leaks won’t go unnoticed for long periods of time either. The system is often designed to include automated system alarms, triggered if a leak is detected letting building maintenance know of the issue immediately.

Vacuum Plumbing is Cost Effective

Some would argue that solutions that include alarm systems are more costly than conventional gravity or pumped solutions. But when you consider the entire picture and the lifetime of the building you’ll see how cost effective vacuum plumbing systems are.

When conventional system spring a leak it’s creates no only a shutdown of the area where the leak is, but the floor below as well. Imagine a leak occurs in the pipes of a room above the surgical suite. Have you ever been in a situation where you need to tell a hospital they need to shut down an operating room for a day or two? Even a couple hours loss of income added to the cost of maintenance creates an astronomical monetary loss.

If this same scenario were to occur with a vacuum system, there would be no disruption to the surgical suite below. Because vacuum piping is installed in the overhead structure, when the leak is found it’s easily repaired without much inconvenience to the building occupants. Now you are significantly reducing maintenance costs and profit loss.

Costs are also reduced in many other ways:

  • Faster installation, with less opportunity for conflict with other mechanical or structural elements during construction.
  • Piping network typically smaller in diameter
  • Eliminates traditional vent stack requirements
  • Eliminates up to 70% of materials and labor costs associated with vent stacks
  • Eliminates up to 60% of the cost of trenching
  • Eliminates 100% of costs association with waste grinding/pump stations
  • Less maintenance because there are fewer waste line blockages
  • Uses only ½ gallon (2 liters) of water per flush so water supply and sewage disposal costs are dramatically reduced. Sewer connection fees are also reduced.
  • An added bonus…depending on the number of toilets installed, a vacuum solution can help earn LEED points under the “Water Efficiency” section.

Ease of Installation

Let’s take a closer look at that overhead system and the ease of installation and design. You’re going to love this. Because you can install the plumbing overhead, you can easily route around existing mechanical, electrical or structural elements.

Do you want to create a design that is aesthetically pleasing instead of one where you are forced to work within the limits of gravity? A vacuum plumbing system will allow you to locate fixtures “at will.” Essentially it’s as easy as moving a piece of furniture.

Yes, it’s certainly different from what you may be used to doing.  AcornVac is there for you every step of the way. We offer:

  • Comprehensive coordination during the design phase as well as construction and commission.
  • Training for the installing contractor and periodic inspection of the installation
  • On-site training for facility maintenance staff
  • Technical support through our Sales Engineering and Technical Services Department.

As you can see there are many significant advantages to an AcornVac Vacuum Plumbing System. Perhaps the biggest advantage in a healthcare facility is measured by its role in fighting infection.

To learn more about vacuum plumbing and other AcornVac products, visit and then click on Products. To contact your location reps, click on Contact.

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