AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by kevvyg on Monday, January 21, 2013
Some of the new Miele S8 vacuums are brand new, but a couple are direct replacements for models in the popular S5 line. The Miele Kona fits into the latter category. With many of the same features and color, the Kona is the direct replacement for the S5 Miele Callisto. Think of it as an updated version with a couple new features at the same price point. As the center of the new S8 line of canister vacuum cleaners, the Kona represents the best value and most balanced vacuum in the line.

Miele S8390 Kona Canister Vacuum CleanerThe Kona shares many of the features of the retiring Callisto, including,
  • HEPA Filter to trap 99.99% of particles 0.3 microns or larger
  • Sealed system with self-sealing filterbag
  • Two floor tools - SEB 228 for all types of carpet and the SBB 300-3 Twister for all types of smooth flooring
  • Three included mini accessories and a 7 year warranty
In addition to these, the S8390 Kona has several noticeable upgrades. First, the Vortex motor is encapsulated. So in addition to the silence insulation, this second layer reduces noise even further. The S8 vacuums are quiet enough to hear a child, the doorbell, phone, or even to carry on a conversation (without having to yell) while you clean.

Second, the older style rotary dial suction control is gone. Instead, the Kona features +/- buttons on the body of the vacuum that allow you to adjust suction with a tap of your foot. In addition to this, the cord will now fully retract simply by tapping the button (instead of having to hold it down). So after you plug the Kona in, you have full control, with your hands and feet, without the need to have to bend down when you change cleaning tasks.

Third, instead of the integrated flush rubber bumper that the S5's had, the S8 line has a raised rubber bumper. With a raised profile, this small strip cushions and protect the Kona and your furniture better.

And lastly, each of the new S8 canisters are about 20% lighter than the S5 line. The Kona offers the same great suction and cleaning performance but in a slimmer, more lightweight package.

These features are all upgrades without any increase in the price (compared to its predecessor). In all, the Kona retains the balance that not only made the Callisto the most popular S5 vacuum but also made it an award winner. In the coming months and year, we fully expect the Kona to pick up right where the Callisto left off. For more detailed information about the Miele Kona or to compare all of the Miele S8 vacuums.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, January 18, 2013
Sleep is something we're all concerned with. Do we get enough? (Probably not) How can we sleep without waking up? And, why do we sleep but still feel tired? These are just some of the questions that we all tend to ask ourselves fairly regularly. Comfort while sleeping can help to answer these questions. If you lack support or have particular health issues, getting a good night's sleep is about as easy as finishing a Rubix Cube. Not only does the mattress you sleep on effect comfort but the way you position your body. So how do we sleep, and what can we do to get a better night's rest?

Most people sleep on their side with a much smaller percentages sleeping on their backs or stomachs. No matter what position we start the night in, most people change their sleeping positions an average of a dozen times each night, with some people, like myself, tossing and turning their way to a whopping 3 dozen position changes each night. Buying the right mattress that offers the right amount of support and comfort is a key first step.

Specific health issues can keep us awake at night, so sleeping in positions that best alleviate the symptoms related to them can help us get a more restful night's sleep. Some of the most common conditions that can effect sleep are back, neck, shoulder and knee pain as well as sleep apnea, and acid reflux.

For back pain, a neutral position on your back is the general rule of thumb. With shoulder pain, sleep on the opposite side and hug a pillow to support the hurting shoulder. You can also sleep on your back with a small pillow under the troubled shoulder for support. For neck pain, side or back sleeping is key, as is using a pillow to provide proper support for the hollow of your neck. Those suffering from sleep apnea should avoid sleeping on their back. Elevating the head, sleeping on the side or stomach can sometimes eliminate sleep apnea or snoring. With acid reflux, side sleeping or elevating the shoulders, head and neck can help.

Most of these solutions involve pillows of one type or another. If you're like me you sleep with a lot of pillows (the term is "pillow herding"). I use them under me, beside me, and between my legs, all to try to make for a more comfortable night's sleep. Finding the right bed and support system is important in getting a good night's rest, but so is using pillows to properly adjust for common health problems. No matter if you're a side, stomach or back sleeper, knowing what works best can leave you sleeping better and feeling better throughout the day.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, January 09, 2013
With the new S8 line of vacuum cleaners slowly rolling out, one of the most striking top-end models is the Miele S8590 Marin. Versatile and dependable, the Marin provides all of the tools to vacuum, dust and clean every nook and cranny of your home.

Miele Marin S8 Canister VacuumOne thing that Miele heard back from dealers and customers alike was how much people prefer some choice. With the S5 Capricorn, you have your choice of two powerheads. Have really thick carpet or pets? Go with the SEB 236. Medium pile carpet or only a couple rooms with carpet? The SEB 217-3 is your better option. Along with the choice in powerhead is also a difference in price, which means you can not only match your floor cleaning needs but also tailor a price point that fits your budget. The Marin offers your choice of either the SEB 236, 228 or 217-3.

For anyone who has allergies, asthma or a respiratory condition, it’s important to try to improve your indoor air quality while possible. Many vacuum cleaners fail to even meet the “do no harm” criteria in this category and spew millions of microparticles and ultrafine particulate back into the air as you vacuum. The Miele Marin is a different. With the AirClean system, the Marin uses a sealed system and 12 stages of filtration to not only “do no harm” but do better by trapping 99.99% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. That’s more efficient than most air purifiers!

Like other Miele canisters, the Miele is extremely versatile. Vacuum flooring of all types, dust hard to reach areas like on top of ceiling fans and doors, between and under furniture, clean out vents and registers, remove dust from drapes, clean your furniture and even your car. The three included attachments when combined with the Miele's powerful suction and the length of the hose and wand provide the ability clean nearly any space or mess in and around your home.

For those wanting a few extras with the vacuum, this S8 model has filter and bag replacement indicators, one-touch cord rewind, a raised bumper strip, and full foot pedal control, as well as the automatic suction setting. Aside from the functionality, two of the things I like most is that it is really quiet for a vacuum cleaner and honestly, the color. Call me a color snob, but some Miele colors are more appealing than others, and this is one of my favorites. In terms of noise level, Miele vacuums are some of the few that you can actually run and not worry about missing a doorbell, phone call or child yelling in the background about how they made Peeps explode in the microwave.

Named after the mild, humid breeze that comes in off the coast of France, the Marin strikes the perfect balance between cleaning ability, air filtration and appealing features. As the second model in the new S8 line, the Marin is available and in stock.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, January 07, 2013
Installing New Laminate Flooring in Our KitchenIt took two years of nagging, but I finally persuaded my parents into investing in new flooring.  The old farm house my parents live in was fully carpeted almost two decades ago, so from bathroom and bedrooms to the living room and kitchen, there was nothing but carpet.  Not only was it terribly worn (nearly threadbare in spots), but in a house with three asthmatics, it was also unhealthy.

For years, doctors and allergists have recommended that carpeting be replaced with hard flooring.  The biggest drawback to carpet is that a layer of matting/padding covered by a layer of carpet essentially acts as a giant sponge.  Dirt, allergens, moisture all work their way deep into the carpet fiber and the pad below.  When they settle this deep, they are nearly impossible to extract.

In the one picture, you can see the Miele Bolero (now the Auto Eco Upright) that I purchased for my mother a couple years back.  Even a vacuum like this Miele with the AirClean System (certified to remove 99.99% of particles 0.3 microns or larger) and powerful suction simply cannot pull fine particles that have settled into and below the carpet pad back up.  Many people turn to hot water extractors/carpet cleaners to try to remedy this.  While these do remove more of the dirt and soil that has settled to the sub flooring, they leave behind more than enough moisture to All Projects Require a Supervisor… and a Miele< create a dust mite and/or mold problem.

So for people with severe asthma, allergies, COPD, or emphysema, one of the best things you can do is simply remove the carpet.  Dirt, allergens and other particles then have nowhere to hide from your vacuum.

Choosing a simple laminate over the expense of true hardwoods, laying the flooring is something I have done in several homes. It requires little more than a couple rubber mallets, a circular saw, chop saw, and claw hammer. I also find that a quality wood rasp and flexible, mini Japanese saw (nokogiri) are indispensable for custom cut pieces around the door frame and register vents. For those who have laid any time of flooring before, you will understand this next part. Invest in knee pads. And if you forget yours, like I did, just scoot around on a couple old throw pillows.

When you remove the old carpet, it's a good idea to wear a dust mask as a lot of dust and microparticles are now going to be stirred up. I used simple broom and dust pan to sweep up and remove large piles of fine dust then used the Bolero with smooth floor tool (not included) to finish removing years of soil, dirt and dust. Despite freezing Ohio temperatures, I kept both exterior doors in the dining, Finished - Smooth Flooring Looks Better and Is Better for Asthmatics cracked while I removed the old carpet and vacuumed. Finally, after two days and some much appreciated help from my siblings, we replaced the flooring in both the kitchen and dining room.

Mom promptly begin laying rugs down in front of all the doors, the sink, refrigerator and stove, and with a little care, that should be the last flooring that my parents will have to worry about in those two rooms. In the long term, it not only looks twenty times better, but I'm hoping that it will help to improve my father's condition. He's likely only a few tests away from being diagnosed with COPD or emphysema. Too many years of severe asthma and smoking having taken a harsh toll on his ability to breathe. Small measures have helped. After talking to him I was glad to hear that small Honeywell air purifier he's been using for several years was helping him sleep better. So I'm hopeful that this too makes a difference.

That was my Christmas to them this year. Next up, replacing the carpet in the bathroom with ceramic tile! And thankfully, my knees have a full year to recover.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, January 03, 2013
With 2013 now officially here, the annual rite of making resolutions, and often breaking them, is in full swing. All across the country people are trying to sweat, starve or deprive themselves to a reach a healthier place, and those selling gym memberships couldn't be happier! I noticed a few new faces at the gym yesterday, but instead of pledging to punish yourself on the treadmill or starve your way to a new pants size, there are a couple, simpler ways you can make big improvements in your health.
  • Spend One Day Cleaning Things You Normally Don't - This shouldn't take but a couple hours, but focus on things like washing your drapes or dusting areas that need it but rarely receive it (top of door frames, ceiling fans, ceiling corners that often get winter cobwebs, vents and registers, under furniture, etc.). Wipe down handles or knobs that get used every day but cleaned only rarely.

  • Check and Replace Filters - In many modern homes there are an increasing amount of air filters. From a furnace or air purifier to the water in your home, there can be a variety of filters that are often forgotten. Spending more time indoors can really take its toll on furnace filters, so replacing them is the natural starting place. From here, replace air purifier and vent filters, and don't forget to replace those water filters (whether they are above or below the sink, in your refrigerator or in your Brita). Being out of sight, filters are easy to forget.

  • If You're Going to Clean, Do It Right - We all clean our homes, but most often we simply clean for appearances - removing splatter on the countertops but not thinking about actually killing the germs that are likely forming plaques there; vacuuming up dirt tracking in on the carpet but forgetting that the most damaging particles to our lungs are the ones we cannot see; disinfecting the bathroom but ignoring the damage that harsh chemicals like ammonia and chlorine are going to your skin, eyes and lungs. We too often clean for appearances but fail when it comes to cleaning for our health. (Personally, I've had my best luck with the Vital Oxide Disinfectant. It's food safe, non-toxic and works on mold, mildew, and kills bacteria and viruses.)

Now, here is the reason why these things are important. The EPA and other organizations have found that the indoor air quality in many homes can be far dirtier than the air outside. Secondly, with modern homes being so tightly sealed, allergens, once in the homes tend to stay there. So the same dust can literally continually circulate through your home. And when it comes to surfaces, while the cleanest place in the house is most often the toilet seat, some of the dirtiest, most bacteria ridden places can be where you actually prepare your food! Health can't be defined as a simple logic statement, if a then b, but the effects of poor air and water quality or exposure to bacteria like salmonella or Listeria can have a cumulative effect - effects that can be reduced or mitigated with slight changes in everyday habits.

Of course, it never hurts to cut down on the sugary drinks and potato chips or eliminate tobacco, but there are enough people out there harping about those things. Besides, my focus is on small, quick habits or ways you can improve the health of your home and how you feel when you're there. With little time and money you can help to make sure your home is healthier and that the air, water and surfaces inside it are healthier for you!

Author: K. Gilmore

Why Should I and How Do I Change My Furnace Filter?



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