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7 Common Thermostat Problems and How to Fix Them

How to fix seven common thermostat problems before you replace thermostatA programmable thermostat can save you up to 10-20% on your energy bill. That is if everything in your heating and cooling system is working together. Diagnosing a furnace can be really overwhelming for anyone unfamiliar with them.

If you live in a climate with extreme weather conditions, those air conditioning service calls can add up. Troubleshooting the thermostat is one of the most accessible ways to solve HVAC problems by yourself. Use this maintenance guide as a process of elimination to see if thermostat problems are the culprit.

Here are seven suggestions to get you started.

1. Not Enough Power

A wireless thermostat that isn’t keeping programmed settings or lacks a battery indicator could be low on power. Try replacing the batteries to see if the HVAC system starts switching on and off properly. Alkaline batteries usually don’t last much longer than a few months, so go for high-capacity Lithium.

If there is no power at all going to the thermostat, check the power switch in the HVAC closet. After that, you can deduce that it may be a blown fuse or breaker.

2. Improper Voltage

Did you just purchase a new thermostat? Even if it’s a modern digital thermostat, it could be rated at an improper voltage. This is especially true for commercial air conditioning systems. Your thermostat needs to be rated at the voltage capacity of your furnace.

If there’s not enough voltage running from the thermostat, temperature readings and signals can be lost. The best way to match the proper voltage is to ask an HVAC pro or take it into a local hardware store.

3. Faulty Wiring

Older homes and buildings are vulnerable to dry rot and fraying of electrical wiring over time. This is a common problem with older thermostats. The connections and electrical contacts can degrade over time and produce intermittent service.

Don’t try to mess with the wiring on your own, it’s best to hire a professional to repair or replace your thermostat.

4. Heat Anticipator

This next component of the thermostat might be a little tricky. Inside the thermostat is a small electrical metal piece that regulates the heat pump and tells it to cycle on and off. If the heat anticipator isn’t calibrated correctly, your temperature reading will always be off.

Adjustments to heat anticipators only apply to older mechanical thermostats. Digital thermostats all use embedded anticipators that are automatically controlled and adjusted. If you have the metal coil inside, yours is mechanical.

If you have a mechanical thermostat, you can test out the anticipator by nudging it lightly to either side. If that allows the thermostat to switch on, then it might still be good. If the problem persists, consider swapping your thermostat for a digital one.

5. Dander and Dust

Over time, your thermostat can collect floating debris, especially between the wall and the unit. Dust and pet dander are common problems with thermostats. You should try to clean your thermostat and the interior components every year.

You can do this with a can of compressed air or a high-quality microfiber cloth. You’ll need to be careful and gently clean the coil that controls the temperature. Do not apply any pressure on it because if you bend it, you’ll throw off the readings.

To clean contacts, slip a piece of paper between them. Slowly move the paper back and forth until you don’t see any more dust.

6. Temp Readings Off

If your air conditioner seems to turn on at the wrong times, it could be located in a poor location. This can be a big issue with large business complex buildings. Your thermostat should be located in the center-most location, away from windows and doors that can let in hot air.

Also, consider which wall it is mounted onto. Ideally, your thermostat should be on an interior wall facing north or south. That way, throughout the day the sun will be evenly heating the location with the thermostat.

Watch for space heaters and surrounding electrical equipment that can radiate a lot of heat, too.

7. Bypass the Settings

Sometimes programmable thermostats can go haywire and your settings may be causing all your problems. To test this out, you should try inputting a specific temperature that you want the building to be. Force it to turn on by pressing the hold button. If that doesn’t work, consult the owner’s manual for your thermostat.

Determine if this reading is accurate by purchasing a cheap thermometer to compare. This should tell you if the location and settings are working as they should. If it does check out, you may need to start looking into insulation issues.

AC Maintenance and Repairs

With proper maintenance, HVAC units should last around 20 years. The key is not allowing problems to take a foothold. Not changing filters on-time, not utilizing programmable settings, and not getting regular servicing can all make your air conditioner run harder.

Thermostat problems add to the likelihood of things breaking down over time. Sure, your air conditioner may work okay if you turn it off and on manually, but is it running efficiently? For commercial air conditioning systems, small problems turn into big expenses in a hurry.

Diagnose and Treat Thermostat Problems

Protecting your investment and avoiding thermostat problems is as easy as hiring a professional AC service provider. Hays Cooling, Heating and Plumbing strives to provide a maintenance service that is tailored to each client’s needs. Whether you live in a studio apartment or own large office complex, you’ll get the best prices and expert diagnoses.

At Hays Cooling Heating and Plumbing, we know the importance of preventative maintenance to keep costs low and HVAC systems running smoothly. Emergency repairs are also offered for same-day turnarounds, so your business or personal life doesn’t come to a stop. Our experience and access to a wide range of tools and AC parts allow us to turn any big job into an easy repair.

Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how you can improve your heating and cooling system and start enjoying the savings.

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About the Author

Chris Hays

Founder of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing

Chris and Stacia Hays, are the founders of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing; a family operated HVAC company in Phoenix founded in 2001 that services both commercial and residential customers. Chris leads a team of certified technicians who have over 45 years of combined experience and has earned and A+ rating with the BBB and a strong five star rating online. Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing focuses on providing support to their customers every step of the way, with exceptional service and competitive prices. If you are looking for top-notch air conditioning and heating service, contact Hays today.