How to Tell If Thermostat is Bad?

Whether you have an older thermostat or you just bought a new one, you need to know how to diagnose certain problems early if you want to maximize the life of your investment. What does this mean? Due to unfavorable conditions, even new thermostats can malfunction or their location can limit their functionality. In addition, older thermostats will be slowly affected due to wear and tear and can result in unpleasant conditions – such as inconsistent temperature or a full break down in the middle of winter.

Here we will take a look at what you need to do to diagnose a malfunctioning thermostat early, to maximize its efficiency, and prolong its life to the maximum. Plus, we will look at how to find out when it is time for a new thermostat.

How to Tell if Your Thermostat Malfunctions

The easiest way to check how efficient your thermostat is to test its abilities. If you use it to cool down your home during summer, turn the thermostat down by four degrees from its usual setting. Listen carefully to hear if it starts automatically – if not, it is a sign that it is malfunctioning. Alternatively, if you want to check during winter, turn up the temperature by four degrees and do the same – the device should immediately kick in.

Another way to check whether it functions properly is if you have suspicions that the temperature is wrong. Install another thermometer next to your thermostat and check the shown temperature. Is it consistent with the thermometer? If yes, then it works great; if not – it might be the time for a new one. Make sure you don’t install the thermometer in another area of the house, as the temperature fluctuates between rooms.

If your thermostat seems to be inconsistent, for instance, between day and night, a cause might be that the sun warms up the thermostat during the day, causing the inconsistency. Alternatively, if your thermostat is next to a door, frequent opening and closing might lead the thermostat to register a cooler temperature than what it actually is, which causes it to work extra and overheat your house.

How to find out if the location is at fault? Location is essential for the longevity and proper functionality of your thermostat. A common sign of an improper position is that the furnace does not turn on or off. If it does not turn on, you should consider whether the thermostat is placed in a very hot location – such as in direct sunlight. If it is not, you might want to consider hiring a professional to check out. The HVAC system might still be functioning, and most times, it is the thermostat that does not allow it to turn on.

Similarly, if it does not turn off, the thermostat might be placed in a cold location, registering, therefore, a lower temperature than it actually is. This does not mean that the thermostat or the HVAC system is wrong – simply adjust the temperature to match the location where it is placed without overheating or overcooling other parts of the house.

What Can I Do if My Thermostat Malfunctions?

If any of the tests above indicate that it does not work correctly, it is absolutely crucial to remember that the system itself is made of numerous electrical components. Therefore, you should not attempt to touch any wires or components inside it. This is a job for professionals. It might also indicate that a new one is needed.

Other than that, you can still try a few safe methods to maintain the good condition of your thermostat. First, if you have display issues (it does not turn on), you can check the batteries and replace them. This is a common cause.

As mentioned, do not interfere with the insides of the electrical devices. What you can do, however, to maintain a long life of your system is to take the cover off a couple of times per year and clean off any dust inside. Like any other area in our home, dirt and dust tend to build up, which will cause the system to malfunction. Make sure you use a dry rag or cloth to carefully clean the dust inside and put the cover back on.

Wrapping up

A thermostat has a life of 10 years on average. However, knowing how to tell if thermostat is bad and doing proper maintenance is necessary, and all you can do is make sure it is always clean. A well-functioning thermostat will save you money in terms of energy bills and save you the unpleasantries of having fluctuating temperatures inside your house. Despite this, it is recommended not to fidget with any electrical components inside the system, as it is not a novice skill. If you notice any loose wires or parts, make sure you address this with a professional who can help you repair or replace your thermostat.

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Sandy Creener - November 4, 2019 Reply

Thanks for the helpful tips. Heating and cooling systems are sophisticated and repairs can get costly real quick so it’s good to diagnose things from the least expensive area up (thermostat). It’s also good knowledge (at least I think) to know the basic maintenance procedures for such an important component in your home.

    Don’t Touch The Dial - November 4, 2019 Reply

    Yes I would agree but most people just install, use and forget, everything we purchase to run our homes should be checked, tested and maintained. Just like washing you washing machine or washing your dishwasher, they both need to be cleaned regularly in order to maintain proper cleaning of clothes and dishes.

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