Coming to terms with your home’s systems

Do you know furnace filters have performance ratings? Are you puzzled by your sump pump?

As you settle into your new home and establish a regular maintenance schedule, there is a lot to learn about the systems that heat, cool and otherwise maintain your home and how to keep them working properly. Regular maintenance helps you keep your home healthy and comfortable and protects your new home warranty coverage.

Key terms and tips to know:

Furnace Air Filters and MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value)

When it comes to buying replacement filters, you may want to consider upgrading your furnace filter to improve your indoor air quality.

There’s a rating system called MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) and filters with higher ratings trap more particles like dust, hair, and pollen. MERV ratings of between 8 and 11 are suitable for most homes. You should check if your furnace manufacturer has a maximum MERV rating for your furnace.

Air Conditioners and SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) Ratings

SEER is a measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners. The SEER rating formula is designed to measure an air conditioner’s total cooling output (in BTUs or British Thermal Units) divided by its total energy input (in watts per hour) over a typical warm weather season of usage.

Generally, the SEER rating can be found on your unit’s Energy Guide label and will appear as “13AC.”  A 13AC or 14AC is currently the minimum SEER rating required for new air conditioners. If your rating is lower, you should check with your builder or the unit’s manufacturer.

Sump pumps

Sump pumps are pumps located in your basement or crawlspace, and are designed to prevent excess rain or ground water from entering the house. Most residential sump pumps are installed in pits, called sump pits, and help to keep your basement dry by pumping the water out of the pit away from your house through a discharge pipe. Make sure you know where the discharge pipe is and ensure you keep the vent hole clear, especially in early spring.

You’ll also want to learn about your sump pump’s backup system, which is important if you lose electrical power, especially in a severe rain storm. Also find out what kind of alert you will get if the pump stops working.

Maintaining your home is a year-round responsibility and our seasonal maintenance checklists can help with what to do at what time of year. You can also find helpful advice in our Home Maintenance video on YouTube.