Troubleshooting Your Thermostat

Troubleshooting Your Thermostat


Being able to control the temperature of your home is a key aspect of a working heating and cooling system. The whole point of indoor climate control is that you can keep your environment comfortable for you and your family. When problems suddenly appear with your HVAC system it can be frustrating, especially for non-professionals who aren’t quite sure where to begin in the troubleshooting process.

Don’t worry – we have you covered. In our recent post about common air conditioning problems, we outlined some things you can check as soon as you notice a problem. If you believe the thermostat is the source of your troubles, here are some issues to look for before calling a technician.


Check for Power

You would be surprised by how often a thermostat problem is related to nothing more than a blown fuse, or the unit itself not being turned on. The very first thing you should do if you suspect a problem is ensure that the thermostat has adequate power. If the thermostat is on and not functioning at all, it’s time to double-check the fuse box for problems.


Check Your Settings

Sometimes the issue with a non-working thermostat is that the desired mode has been turned off. Sometimes buttons or switches can accidentally be placed in the wrong position, causing a mix up in which setting is active. Make sure the thermostat is set to the proper setting – cool in the summer, heat in the winter. If “fan only” is selected, move the setting to cool or heat, as the fan won’t provide anything other than air movement.


Check the Area

Where is your thermostat located? Remember, the thermostat is what provides temperature information for the whole house to your HVAC system. If your thermostat is located in a room that tends to be hotter or cooler than the rest of the house, that will affect the overall efficiency and provided comfort of your heating and cooling system. If this is the case, it may be time to speak to a professional about a zoning solution that will allow you to independently control temperatures in different areas of your home.

Sometimes the problem is related to placement of other household appliances. Is there anything near it that could be preventing an accurate temperature reading, such as a window allowing in direct sunlight, a hot lamp or a TV? If so, try moving anything that could be interfering with the temperature measurement, as this will affect how often the HVAC unit turns on or off. If the problem is a window, make sure window coverings are used that can block light (and increased heat) from hitting the thermostat.


Check for Dust

Much like your HVAC system, the thermostat can be affected by dust or dirt buildup within the unit. Carefully remove the outer casing of the thermostat – it should come off easily with a little prying. If you notice a lot of dust buildup, that can cause problems with the wire connections. Use a soft brush to gently remove any dust or dirt buildup, replace the cover, and try turning on the HVAC system again.


Check for Loose Wires

If the steps above have failed, remove the thermostat cover again and do a visual check to see if any wires appear to be loose. Over time, wires can sometimes work their way out of place, which means that internal electrical connections aren’t being made. If you think this could be the problem, turn the power to the system off and see if you can put the wire back in place. Return power to the system and check to see if the problem is resolved.


If you have tried the steps above, and there is still a problem, it’s time to talk to a professional. Give us a call at (205) 871-8111 and we’ll help you set up an appointment to figure out what’s going on.