I've got a central vacuum hose that has a broken 3way on-off-on rocker switch. It has 4 wires connected to it. I've seen several suitable replacement switches with varying numbers of pins, from 3 to 10. I'm unsure of which switch to buy (i.e. how many pins) and how to wire it.

Top view rocker switch

Bottom view rocker switch

  • Look for any more info on the switch body itself, or try to find specs on the switching requirements by searching on the model info of the central vac unit. – user2448131 Dec 15 '16 at 18:22
  • Does the switch control both a 120v vaccumn head AND the low voltage control? Mine did, and I never did find the right replacement switch without buying Beam's switch. – Tyson Dec 15 '16 at 19:09
  • @Tyson- yes, I think it does. The vacuum hose also has a cord that plugs into the wall. Although the existing switch was broken (vac was left by previous home owners), I did get the brokwn switch to turn on a couple times to see if the central unit worked. Both the vacuum head and central unit turned on when the switch was flipped. BTW, what is "Beam's switch"? Thanks. – hotkarl Dec 15 '16 at 19:40
  • @hotkarl actually I had the same situation, inherited the problem from a prior owner. I spent about 4 months trying to find a switch I could solder in. In the end we decided to buy a second set of OEM (I.e. beam) attachments, hose, and power head. Research told me not to buy a third parties. In the end, the dealer changed the entire end of the old hose as an incentive on the new purchase. – Tyson Dec 16 '16 at 1:02
  • BTW the switch you need is not On-Off-On which can be found, it's Off-stage 1-stage 2--or off, one side, both sides. I'm pretty sure it's Beam specific. As I said, I tried pretty hard to find the exact replacement and failed. – Tyson Dec 16 '16 at 1:11

It looks like a DPDT switch where they cut off one of the legs before soldering the board. Black is closed in either "on" position, and white is closed in only one of the "on" positions. Some DPDT switches have a center position which is all-disconnected, and I presume this switch has that feature, otherwise the black wiring would be utterly pointless.

If you want component switches, my usual places are Digi-key, Mouser, Newark, Galco and other electronics suppliers. They are relatively standardized most of the time. Trying to match a switch is a chore, but you might as well learn it. Numbers on the switch can help, but some may be on the bottom and require unsoldering it.

Soldering is not a huge job, but to un-solder, you're going to want a "snap" solder-sucker, solder wick, or both. It's all done from the solder side of the board. Don't heat it for too long or you'll cook the board, so if an attempt fails, move to a distant pad, or give it 2 minutes to cool off. When un-soldering is done well, the device wtill won't come out because each pin will still be stuck to the hole by a microscopic amount of solder, but nudging the pin sideways will cause it to release. If you're nudging hard enough to bend the pin, you haven't removed enough solder.

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  • @Harper- thanks. Yes, everything is off when the switch is in the center position (although the existing switch in the pic was broken, I did get it to turn on a couple of times before it completely conked, and the hose manual, which I have, shows the center position as being completely OFF). After staring more closely at the picture (glad I took it) it seems like the existing switch is a 6 pole DPDT. I'm thinking I'll just cut the wires at the existing switch connection points and attach a new 6 pole DPDT with wire crimp terminal connectors- whaddya think? – hotkarl Dec 15 '16 at 19:46
  • Electrically that would be fine. Mechanically it may be difficult to mount. For Code compliance the assembly needs to be UL listed. Replacing the switch with one with the same mechanical and electrical characteristics would be a repair that would not change the UL listing. I would search to exhaustion for that same switch body before changing designs. Also 'pole' is the P in DPDT. You may mean to use the word 'pin'. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 15 '16 at 20:10
  • You may mean to use the word 'pin'. Yes- updated. Thanks again for your help. Hopefully I can find a good match. – hotkarl Dec 15 '16 at 20:27

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