Troubleshooting Thermostat Issues: Is It the Thermostat or Something Else?

If your Brookhaven home’s temperature is too hot or cold, what is the first thing you check? Probably the thermostat. If you are a homeowner, you probably have played around with the setting on a thermostat, much to the chagrin of other occupants who don’t share your same comfort level. And if you try and adjust a thermostat at work – well forget about it. Most companies now have locking thermostats or “false” ones that don’t actually connect to the heating and cooling system.

So if you have a temperature problem, is it really the thermostat that causes it? Maybe yes and maybe no. One physical characteristic to check is the location of the thermostat. If it is in a drafty hallway or near a heat source, it only reads the temperature for that area and other parts of the building are neglected. You will often find more than one thermostat in a home that is tied into more than one furnace or air conditioner.

The older more popular round thermostats are manually controlled and do not adjust to any conditions in the home. They simply control the heating and cooling functions based on a human turning a dial. It’s as simple as that. So if you use this method to adjust the temperatures, blame yourself and not the thermostat. You might want to consider installing a digital, programmable thermostat.

With that in mind, let’s look at some typical ways to troubleshoot a thermostat.

  • Check the anticipator, which is a small metal tab on the front of the printed scale. Give it a light push in either direction. It may be stuck.
  • Clean the interior of the thermostat housing and clean the contacts (small metal plates)
  • Check loose wires or wires that may be corroded.
  • Read the thermostat manual (if not available, look online) for other tips such as ensuring there is voltage to the terminals.

If you have checked everything and the thermostat seems to be in working order, look for other things within the heating & cooling system. These include blocked or restricted registers and vents, leaks or cracks in ductwork, and dirty air handling filters.