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Fall Allergies – Steps To Enjoy Your Autumn

As the leaves begin to fall and the pumpkin harvest begins, allergy sufferers face a whole new and different set of challenges. Fall allergies have different causes and different situations that can be easily dealt with, just in a slightly different manner than spring allergies.

fall allergies can be aggravated when raking leaves

Fall Allergies and Hay Fever – Not Just for Horses Anymore

“Hay Fever” is a term from years past that was used to describe the general symptoms of late summer and fall allergies. While it has nothing to do with hay specifically, these allergies often coincided with the beginning of the harvest and hay-making season. The actual condition is referred to by the medical community as “allergic rhinitis”, and includes symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes or mouth, sneezing, congestion and fatigue.

The causes of allergic rhinitis basically fall into three major categories: outdoor allergens, indoor allergens, and irritants. Outdoor allergens include things like tree and plant pollen. In our area, Ragweed is a notorious hay fever trigger, as it begins to pollenate in August and can continue to do so until the first frost of the season.

fall allergies heightened by ragweed

Indoor allergens encompass things like pet hair and dander, dust mites, and mold spores. Lingering warm weather in the fall can cause the symptoms of fall allergies to last longer. Mold spores can be released when the humidity is high, OR when the air is dry and windy.

Irritants, such as cigarette smoke, perfume, or diesel exhaust aren’t really a seasonal thing, but also contribute to the pesky symptoms of hay fever.

Outdoor Allergens

There’s not much you can do to effect the level of allergens and pollutants outside, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to these irritants. Staying indoors when pollen counts are at their peak is always a good idea for allergy sufferers. Wearing sunglasses or glasses when you’re outside can help keep pollen out of your eyes. Avoid hanging clothing or linens on an outside laundry line, as pollen can cling to the fabric as it dries.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends that allergy sufferers use a NIOSH rated N95 mask when raking leaves or doing yardwork in the fall months. Using your air conditioning when in the car can help filter the air and reduce the level of airborne contaminants.

Indoor Air Quality

There are a lot more steps you can take to improve the air quality inside your home, and reduce the contaminants that contribute to fall allergy symptoms. Just like in the car, running your air conditioning can reduce the amount of airborne contaminants. Simple steps like installing a UV light in your air handling system can reduce these contaminants even further. These UV lights, combined with keeping the humidity low, also help to limit mold growth. Remember to replace the air filters in your duct work every three months to help improve indoor air quality.

air handling system uv light

Washing your bedding frequently with very hot water will help control dust mites. Using a “mite proof” bedding cover can also help reduce these pesky critters.

If you have pets AND allergies, make sure you wash your hands after petting your animal. It’s also best to let a non-allergic family member handle your pets grooming, preferably in a well ventilated area. Using a damp mop to clean floors and replacing carpeting with hardwood, tile or linoleum will also help with pet dander build up.

How 7 Oil Company Can Help

If you’re looking to take bigger steps towards improving indoor air quality, look no further than 7 Oil Company. We offer a full range of indoor air quality solutions. Whole home humidifiers, HVAC UV light installation, and electronic air purifier installation. Not only can we keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we can help you breathe easier all year round.

For more information, call one of our knowledgeable representatives at 856-786-0707, or send us an email.

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Heater Maintenance Made Easy – The 7 Oil ‘Clean & Tune’

Whether you’re using oil or natural gas to heat your home, there are certain heater maintenance items that should be taken care of on an annual basis. They differ slightly based on the type of equipment you have, and our technicians can help you no matter what fuel source your home uses.

We have a comprehensive yet economical service package to make it easy to maintain your heating system. We like to call it the “Clean & Tune”.

a tech arrive to perform heater maintenance

Heater Maintenance Benefits

First, we’d like to let you know why heater maintenance is important. Whether it’s gas or oil fired, your furnace accrues normal wear and tear, like any machine. Yearly maintenance helps mitigate this wear and tear and extend the life span of your equipment. For example, under normal working conditions, oil fired furnaces will acquire some soot build up in the smoke pipe, chimney base, and in the heater itself. Removing this build up once a year helps your heater last longer and run more efficiently.

When Is The Best Time and How Often Should Heater Maintenance Be Performed?

The timing of your heater maintenance is really a matter of personal preference, but many homeowners choose to have this maintenance done in late summer or early fall. That way, you have peace of mind for the oncoming cold season that your heating system is working properly and at peak efficiency.

Under normal usage conditions, we recommend that maintenance and cleaning be performed annually. Regular cleaning and maintenance once a year will help eliminate costly repairs at other times of the year.

Oil Heater Maintenance

As mentioned above, the maintenance item required by oil fired and gas fired furnaces differ slightly. With an oil fired furnace or boiler, the technician will first clean the heater, the smoke pipe, and the chimney base. He then changes the nozzle and the oil filter, and pump strainer. He will inspect, clean and adjust the ignition electrodes.  If your oil furnace is a forced air system, our technician will also change the air filter.

Next, he’ll inspect the combustion chamber, blast tube, and end cone. He will inspect all the circuit boards and electronic components for proper functionality. Once the unit is reassembled, he will run it to ensure everything is working properly.

Gas Furnace Maintenance

Natural gas fired furnaces require slightly different maintenance. Our technician will first clean and inspect the ignition system, whether it’s a hot surface igniter, pilot light, or electrode. He changes the air filters, and then inspects all circuit boards and other components, paying particular attention to safety limits. He will electronically check the heat exchanger for signs of carbon monoxide leakage. Lastly, he will reassemble the unit and run it, checking it for proper functionality.

We’d be happy to schedule a Clean & Tune on a day that’s convenient for you! Simply give us a call at 856-786-0707 and one of our customer service representatives will be glad to assist you.

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Hot Water Heater Maintenance – Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Hot Water Heater

hot water heater from turn of the century still in use

Hot water heaters have been around since the late 1850’s, and have come a long way since the early models like the one pictured above. One thing has remained the same however. Your hot water heater doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. In fact, it can be one of the lowest maintenance pieces of equipment in your home. IIt stands silently in the basement or utility room, always ready to provide you with a nice warm bath or shower. You can extend the life of this stalwart piece of machinery with a few simple yearly maintenance items, though.

Visually Inspect The Hot Water Heater Tank

hot water heater with signs of corrosion

Starting from the top and working your way down, carefully inspect the hot water heater itself for signs of corrosion or rust on the outside of the storage tank. Don’t forget the expansion tank as well!

Check The Pressure Relief Valve, Water Shut Off Valve And Drain

hot water tank components

Every hot water heater has these components. The Pressure Relief valve is usually located on the top of the heater. Simply check this valve for signs of leakage or corrosion. Do the same for the shut off valve, which will be located on the water lines. It’s usually a gate valve. A simple visual inspection should show any signs of leakage or corrosion.

The drain is located near the bottom of the heater, and looks like a regular spigot with threads for attachment of a hose. Again, a simple visual inspection should show any signs of leakage.

Rid Your Hot Water Heater Of Sediment

hot water heater being flushed

This is a simple procedure that goes a long way towards extending the life of your hot water heater. First, make sure that the fuel source to your heater is shut off. If it is gas, close the gas valve. For electric heaters, turn off the breaker. Locate the drain valve, and attach a hose to the threaded end. Run this hose outside or to a utility sink, or bucket and open the drain. Water should flow out slowly for a moment, and then stop. This caused by a vacuum inside the tank as water escapes but no air enters. Open the pressure relief valve and allow the tank to drain. The water may be discolored or dirty, but that’s ok. It’s normal for sediment to build up over time. Flush water through the heater until all of that gets out of there! Once clear water is running through, you’re all done!

Anode Maintenance

hot water heater anode rod

Hot water heaters have a zinc or magnesium anode, which helps prevent corrosion within the tank. The metals in the anode corrode more quickly than the steel construction of the tank, and actually draw the corrosive reactions away from the steel. These anodes should be checked yearly, and replaced approximately every three years. If you use a water softener system, then it’s recommended that you replace them every year, as the salt speeds up the reactions which cause corrosion. If there is more than 6 inches of bare wire showing at either end of the anode, it’s time for a new one.

Check Your Hot Water Heater Temperature Setting

hot water heater control diagram

Your temperature dial should be set between 120 and 125 degrees. Use caution when setting it higher than this, as scalding could occur. Setting the temperature is as simple as rotating this dial to the desired temperature. To save on fuel expenses, if you’re leaving the house for more than three days, set this to the lowest setting. That way you’re not heating water you’re not going to use.

Following this short checklist can do a lot to keep your hot water heater running as long as possible. Your hot water heater experts at 7 Oil Company can take care of this for you. Our hot water heater service can be performed individually or in conjunction with your annual heater maintenance. For more information, give us a call at 856-786-0707. We’re here to help!






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