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Troubleshoot and Fix a Thermostat:


Peak Energy Efficiency for Central Air Conditioners and Heaters

© 2008 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

A Honeywell Digital Thermostat


Any defective, uncalibrated, or dirty thermostat will raise your energy bills. But it’s easy to troubleshoot and repair one, so there’s often no reason to call an HVAC service person. But if it turns out that you do need a specialist, I highly recommend Angie’s List..

Your thermostat is the physical controller between your family and your home’s heating and cooling system. Very often when you notice your air conditioner unit or heater is acting up or not doing what it should be, you might suspect the air conditioner, furnace, or boiler.

But it might just be an easily-corrected issue with your thermostat or humidistat.

What happens when your thermostat isn’t working properly? Chances are that your electricity or natural gas bills will go up. Read on; this article explains how to troubleshoot your thermostat and in many cases eliminate a costly visit from your local heating and cooling service person. It’s as easy as changing an electrical light switch!

Central Heater Problem Symptoms and Repairs

  • No Heat Generated
  1. Possibly no power to the system? Try resetting circuit breaker or replacing the fuse.
  2. Is the thermostat dirty? Clean your it. (Explained below.)
  3. Is your thermostat faulty? Replace it. For peak energy management, invest in a 7-day programmable model thermostat.
  4. Are the batteries dead (if applicable)? Replace them.
  • The Temperature Either Doesn't Reach or Exceeds the Setting
  1. Is the thermostat out of level? Use a level to re-level it.
  2. Anticipator not set correctly? Adjust the anticipator.
  3. Is it improperly calibrated? Try recalibrating the line voltage or low voltage thermostat.
  4. Range stop not correct? Replace it or call a serviceman.
  • The Heater Turns Off and On Repeatedly
  1. Is it dirty, inside or out? Clean the thermostat.
  2. Anticipator isn’t set correctly? Adjust it.
  • Heater Will not Turn Off
  1. Is it out of level? Use a level to realign it properly.

Central Air Conditioner Problem Symptoms and Repairs

  • Air Conditioner Simply Will not Turn On
  1. No power to it? Reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse.
  2. Is the thermostat dirty, inside or out? Clean it.
  3. It may be faulty. If no other attempted repairs work, replace it.
  4. The batteries may be dead (if applicable)? Replace them. They’re cheap enough.
  • Temperature Does Not Reach or Exceeds Setting
  1. It may be improperly calibrated? Recalibrate it.
  2. Is it out of level? Use a level to realign it.
  • The Humidifier Will Not Turn On
  • Is there power to the system? Reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse.
  • Is the humidistat faulty ? It should be replaced.

How to Clean Your Thermostat

  1. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel.
  2. Remove your thermostat cover.
  3. Locate the the bimetal coil and clean with a soft, lint-free brush.
  4. Remove the thermostat’s body by removing the retaining screws (on a round thermostat). Next, slide a small piece of bond or typing paper between the lever and the contacts repeatedly to clean them.
  5. Reassemble the unit.

How to Adjust a Thermostat Anticipator

  • Turn off the electricity at your home’s circuit breaker panel.
  • Take the thermostat’s cover.
  • Locate the label that documents the ampere setting for your particular unit. Write it down. Common places you might find it are in the manual (if you still have it), on your furnace’s service panel, or on your boiler’s transformer.
  • Next, set the anticipator on its scale. On an air distribution system, you can set it right on the ampere setting you wrote down in the last step. But if you have a water distribution system, set it 1.4 times the ampere setting.

If you’re not comfortable doing the work. find a licensed electrician in your area, check out Angie’s List.

Don't wait until it breaks to fix it. Your thermostat is just one more place where you can cut your utility bills.


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© 2008 all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.