Luckily, thermostats are among the most reliable devices you have in your home and rarely malfunction. However, when they appear to malfunction, there are ways to test them. Perform these simple exercises to see if the thermostat is the problem. If not, some other aspect of your HVAC is responsible for the improper functioning you are experiencing. Here are five things you can do to test to see if your thermostat is working properly:
- The Five Degree Test: You can tell that your home’s atmosphere is not quite right. You might suspect your programmable thermostat because it has not been replaced in a long time. A few simple tests should determine if your thermostat is fully functioning or not. Adjust your thermostat up or down about five degrees. Listen to your HVAC system. You should hear a click. That click is the first positive sign that you do not need thermostat repair. Now check the vents. If you increased the temperature on your programmable thermostat by five degrees, you should feel warm air emitting from the vent, and if you decreased the temperature by five degrees, you should feel cooler air.
- Eliminate the Obvious: Examine the unit. Is it set to provide the seasonally correct atmosphere? If you’re in winter, you should have it set to “heat,” and if it's summer, “cool.” While there, make sure that your fan setting is “auto” rather than “on.” If it is set to “on,” you will feel air blowing through the vents constantly. When correctly set to “auto” the system only blows through the vents to make temperature adjustments at intervals during the day. These may seem obvious, but people do accidentally or erroneously change thermostat settings that can make everyone in the house uncomfortable and mislead you into thinking the unit is not working correctly.
- Replace the Batteries: If you have an electronic thermostat that uses batteries, replace them, even if you feel you replaced them recently. Maybe the batteries you installed were defective or had already been used so they did not last as long as usual. Either way, if replacing the batteries works, you have saved money in repair bills and are done with testing.
- Clean the Thermostat: Be gentle. Though small, thermostats are advanced technical components. Do not spray them all over with window cleaner and scrub the numbers off the dials. Use a soft cloth or soft-bristled brush to gently remove accumulated dust. Look at the exposed stems of the dials. Dust often sticks to those stems. Gently work your cloth or brush in to remove that dust. Remember that though hardy, thermostats are not designed for aggressive pulling or rubbing and you don’t want to create a problem by cleaning.
- Check the Connections: Carefully remove the unit from the wall making sure to keep track of the tiny screws needed to reattach it. The thermostat is usually not conveniently close to a strong light source, so you may need a flashlight to examine the connections. No wires should be present in the unit unconnected. Make sure the connections you see are secure. Replace the unit after this test is done. When you are done testing the thermostat, make sure the unit is level. If you have a small level around the house, use it to level the thermostat. A level thermostat is much more likely to work properly than a slanted one.
My thermostat passed all the tests and I am still uncomfortable.
Good job! It’s not easy to perform all those tests on your own. As homeowners in the Mobile area, we are vastly more comfortable poking and prodding a reluctant commode than we are touching the thermostat.
If your system is still not providing the correct heating or cooling temperatures, it’s time to call a professional.
There are one or two more tests involving the thermostat that need to be performed, but they are best left to a professional. As much as you can, provide a detailed description of the problem. You may notice that the technician performs all the tests you already did but that is fine. He will either confirm what you already know, or he may uncover a problem you missed.
For remarkable services in your Mobile, AL area, call a certified HVAC professional at Hembree Heating & Air Conditioning at (251) 259-4664 to visit and evaluate your system.