Tips for Troubleshooting Your Thermostat

Posted: 2023-07-06

If your HVAC system's thermostat isn't functioning properly, it may seem like a small and often overlooked device, but its malfunction can lead to significant inconvenience. Fortunately, thermostat problems are generally less costly compared to other issues with air conditioners or furnaces. In fact, many disruptions to a thermostat's function can be resolved through straightforward troubleshooting steps. At Four Seasons Air Specialists, we are a reliable HVAC company in Woodbury MN, dedicated to fixing all types of HVAC equipment, including thermostats.

Thermostat Basics

A thermostat serves as a control device for regulating the temperature within an HVAC system, such as a furnace or an air conditioner. By setting a specific temperature, the thermostat ensures that your room remains at your desired level of comfort. Once your furnace or air conditioner reaches the designated temperature, the thermostat will switch off the system to prevent overheating.

If you find that your home suddenly lacks heat or cooling, the culprit might be a malfunctioning thermostat rather than a major issue with the HVAC system. It's important to note that not every thermostat problem requires professional assistance. In fact, there are steps you can take on your own before reaching out to an HVAC technician.

Below, you'll find some useful suggestions on how to address a faulty thermostat.

Troubleshooting Tips for a Faulty Thermostat

Verify the power source.
Is your thermostat turning on and off unexpectedly? The first step is to check if it's receiving sufficient power. Most thermostats rely on batteries, so ensure they are fresh and properly installed. Additionally, inspect the circuit breakers to see if any have tripped, leading to a loss of power for your system. Once you've confirmed the power source is intact, attempt to restart the system.

Review your settings.
Thermostat switches can sometimes be inadvertently moved to the wrong setting. Double-check that your thermostat is set to "HEAT." If you have a programmable unit, ensure it is correctly programmed to your desired temperature at specific times of the day.

Assess the thermostat's placement.
Proper mounting of the thermostat on the wall is crucial for accurate temperature readings. Make sure it is not situated near heat sources like direct sunlight, gas stoves, or refrigerators. Avoid placing the thermostat near vents, registers, or windows, as they can affect the ambient temperature around it.

Additionally, check if the thermostat is level. Use a level device to ensure it is perfectly horizontal on the wall. If it is not level, the mercury switch inside may not function accurately.

Troubleshooting Steps for Thermostat Issues

Check for dirt buildup.
Accumulated dirt can cause problems in any HVAC system, including your thermostat. Excessive dirt can lead to discrepancies between your temperature settings and the actual room temperature. In such cases, cleaning your thermostat is necessary.

For older electromagnetic thermostats, a gentle brushing can often solve the problem. Carefully remove dust from the inside of the thermostat, as well as the metal coils and contact plates. If your brush is too large to fit between the plates, try sliding a soft paper back and forth to wipe them clean.

Verify compatibility.
To ensure proper functioning with your heating or cooling systems, your thermostat needs to be compatible, especially if your HVAC unit has advanced features like variable-speed operation. If you have a heat pump for both heating and cooling, make sure the thermostat is compatible with it.

Check thermostat wiring.
Sometimes, malfunctions can be caused by wiring issues. Check the wiring connections of your thermostat by removing the casing and back plate. If it's a new thermostat, refer to the wiring diagram provided.

A word of caution: Dealing with wiring issues can be risky if you lack proper HVAC training. It's important to avoid attempting to fix a broken thermostat by moving wires without considering the potential for damaging control boards or even the transformer. Unless you have the necessary expertise, leave significant wiring issues to qualified technicians.

Still Having Problems? Seek Professional Assistance

These troubleshooting tips should help you restore comfort in your home. However, if you encounter more severe thermostat issues or if the problem persists, don't hesitate to contact Four Seasons Air Specialists, a trusted Vadnais Heights heating and air conditioning company.