What is Vacuum Plumbing?

Vacuum plumbing systems are simple and viable alternatives to underground piping that uses the combined energies of vacuum pressure and gravity for the collection, conveyance and disposal of waste through a piping network that can be routed above ground. Vacuum drainage operates on the principal of having a majority of the plumbing system under a continuous vacuum. Hundreds of vacuum drainage systems are in operation around the world and are accepted by most code authorities. Vacuum systems are a viable drainage solution as noted in the latest edition of the IPC and UPC Codes. In addition, many local and state plumbing codes have also accepted vacuum plumbing as an approved alternative for a variety of waste types including condensate, grey water, sanitary waste and grease waste.

Why Vacuum Plumbing is the Environmental Choice

A typical vacuum system can reduce potable water consumption for toilets by 68 percent with a highly efficient vacuum flush toilet requiring only a half gallon per flush. Of the many benefits vacuum plumbing offers, the water and waste treatment savings are one of the most important features of this technology. The water savings can be thousands of dollars and millions of gallons per year for larger applications.

Did You Know?

A 500 person commercial office building that is serviced by a single vacuum center and 1/2 gallon per flush vacuum toilets will save over 265,000 gallons per year, compared to conventional low flush toilets.

When to Choose an Engineered Vacuum Plumbing System

While a vacuum plumbing system can be used on virtually any project, certain design and construction conditions may make it the most cost effective solution available.
Here are some examples:

ConditionsSelect VacuumSelect Conventional
Proven technology
Conventional and low volume flush toilets
No space restrictions, site issues, water saving requirements or cost concerns 
Limited amount of cutting, trenching and digging to tie into existing sanitary sewer 
Renovation construction/ reuse of existing space in which there is limited existing points of connection to sanitary sewer and a moderate amount of waste line trenching is required 
Open architecture – with limited existing or available mechanical space – vacuum reduces space needed for waste piping 
Post tension or structural slab – vacuum eliminates cost of x-ray and trenching 
Restrictive site issues, bedrock, unstable soil, high water table, inappropriate inverts – vacuum waste piping is routed overhead 
Imbedded contaminates in the floor or slab, such as asbestos or other pollutes – no need to disrupt existing slab – vacuum waste piping is routed overhead 
Lack of as built documentation for structures in which there is concern for buried services 
Available water and sewage service – vacuum flush toilets require 68% less water per flush and can offer opportunity for reduced sewage impact fees 
Reduced maintenance – vacuum waste systems reduce main line blockages 
Concern for soil contamination – vacuum waste systems eliminate waste exfiltration