For most of us, the thermostat is one of the most important elements of our homes, and when it goes wrong, it can be frustrating.
If you have a central heating system with an electric thermostat, there are a few things that could cause your thermostat to not work properly.
This article will show you how to troubleshoot these problems so you can get back to enjoying your home again.
What Does Your Thermostat Do?
Before we start to troubleshoot a thermostat that is not working properly, it is important to understand just what your thermostat does, and why it is important.
The thermostat controls the temperature in your house by turning on or off the heat at certain times throughout the day.
It also has a timer function which allows you to set different times for the heater to turn on and off during each day.
You may notice that the thermostat is usually located near the furnace, but some newer models are designed to sit on top of the boiler itself.
This makes it easier to access if you need to make any adjustments.
The thermostat is connected to the main control board via wires, and this is where all of the information about the temperature inside the house is sent.
When the thermostat receives this signal from the control panel, it sends out a message to the furnace (see also ‘How To Troubleshoot A Trane Furnace‘) telling it whether to turn it on or off.
If the thermostat is not receiving enough power, then it won’t send out the correct signals to the furnace, and it will not turn on or off as expected.
This can happen because of faulty wiring, or because the thermostat is no longer plugged into the wall socket.
Types Of Thermostat
There are three types of thermostats available today: single-zone, multi-zone, and programmable.
Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Single-zone thermostats are designed to heat just one zone of a home.
They are typically used in smaller spaces like bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens.
The advantages of a single-zone thermostat include :
• It’s easy to install.
• It’s affordable.
• It doesn’t require additional equipment such as sensors or remote controls.
The disadvantages of a single-zone unit include:
• It heats only one room.
• It cannot control multiple zones.
Multi-Zone Thermostat (Also Known As Split-System Thermostat)
Multi-zone thermostats allow you to set different temperatures for various zones within your home.
This means that you can use one thermostat to regulate two or more areas of your house.
The pros of a multi-zone thermostat include :
• It allows you to regulate several different areas in your home.
• It’s very flexible.
• It’s less expensive than other options.
The cons of a multi-zone unit include:
• It requires more wiring.
• It’s harder to install.
Programmable thermostats are the most advanced form of thermostat. With them, you can control multiple zones of your home with ease.
You can even schedule automatic temperature changes throughout the day.
When choosing a programmable thermostat, the advantages include:
• It offers many features.
• It’s the most customizable option.
• It’s easier to install.
The disadvantages of programmable thermostats include:
• It costs more than traditional thermostats.
• It takes longer to install.
How Do I Know Which Type Of Thermostat Is Right For Me?
The best way to determine which type of thermostat would suit your needs is to ask yourself a few questions about your lifestyle.
What kind of space does your home occupy? Are there multiple people who live in it?
How often do you move around in your home?
If you’re moving frequently, then a multi-zone thermostat is probably right for you.
On the other hand, if you tend to stay put, then a single-zone might be better suited for you.
If you’re not sure how to choose between single-zone and multi-zone units, here are some things to consider when selecting a thermostat:
- Space Requirements: Do you want to control the temperature in just one room or all of your home?
- Comfort Level: Would you prefer a simple thermostat that will keep your home comfortable without much fuss? Or do you want something that will help you save energy and money by automatically adjusting the temperature according to your schedule?
- Cost: Is cost an issue? Will you need to replace your current thermostat soon?
- Installation Time: Will you have to hire someone else to install it?
- Features: What features do you want in your new thermostat?
- Energy Savings: What are your goals? Do you want to reduce your utility bills? Would you rather spend more time relaxing at home instead of working on your computer?
- Maintenance: Does the thermostat come with any maintenance instructions? Can you easily read the manual?
- Warranty: Does the manufacturer offer a warranty? Are you covered if something goes wrong?
- Ease of Use: Can you figure out how to operate this device quickly? Will it help your life run more smoothly, or cause more of a headache?
- Style: Are you looking for a sleek design or a retro look?
- Location: Where will you place your thermostat? Is it easy to access? Will you be able to get easy access for adjustments, repairs, services, and maintenance?
- Size: How big is the thermostat? Does it fit comfortably on your wall?
How Can I Tell If My Thermostat Is Not Working Properly?
If your thermostat doesn’t seem to be controlling the furnace (see also ‘Why Is My Heater Blowing Cold Air? | Furnace Troubleshooting‘) correctly, here are some signs that it isn’t working:
The first sign that your thermostat might not be working is that the heat seems to be turned off even though the thermostat says it should be on.
In this case, check the power supply to the thermostat.
Make sure that it is plugged into the wall socket, and that the fuse box is not blown.
Also, try unplugging the unit from the wall for five minutes, and plug it back in. See if the problem persists.
Too Much Heat
If you find that the heat is too high, you may have a faulty thermostat. Check the fuses and make sure they aren’t blown.
If the fuses are fine, then the thermostat may be bad.
A High-Temperature Setting
If you find that your thermostat is constantly setting the temperature higher than normal, this could mean that the thermostat needs replacing.
Sometimes the thermostat’s timer will stop working, and this can lead to the heat being left on all night long.
If this happens, then replace the thermostat.
The other common problem with thermostats is that they don’t seem to be able to keep the temperature low enough.
If this is happening to you, then you may want to consider installing a programmable thermostat instead.
Programmable thermostats allow you to change the temperature settings whenever you want, so you can save money while still having comfortable temperatures.
Troubleshooting Your Thermostat – Before You Begin
Before you begin to troubleshoot a malfunctioning thermostat, there are several things you’ll want to do to ensure that you get the most accurate results possible.
First, you’ll want to disconnect the thermostat from the wall socket. Then, you’ll want to remove the cover plate from the thermostat.
Next, you’ll want to look for loose connections between the thermostat and the control panel.
Finally, you’ll want to check the thermostat’s circuit breaker.
- Disconnect The Thermostat From The Wall Socket
To disconnect the thermostat, simply unscrew its mounting screws.
Once the thermostat has been removed, you’ll need to move the thermostat away from the wall socket.
- Remove The Cover Plate
Remove the cover plate by lifting up one side of the thermostat.
Be careful when doing this, as the thermostat contains electrical components which can cause an electric shock if touched.
- Look For Loose Connections Between The Thermostat And Control Panel
Look for any loose connections between the thermostat and the control panel.
If you see anything unusual, such as exposed wire ends, then you know that something is wrong.
- Check The Circuit Breaker
If you’re using a standard home thermostat, then you’ll probably find that it’s located inside the wall near the ceiling or floor.
Look for a small metal box with two black wires coming out of it. This is the circuit breaker. It is usually labeled “Thermostat”.
If you’re using a programmable thermostatic device, then you’ll find that it looks like a clock radio.
There will be a red button on top of the device. Press this button to turn off the power to the unit.
After turning off the power, press the same button again to turn the power back on.
- Check For An Error Code
One of the easiest ways to get a handle on your problem is to see whether your thermostat is running any error code notifications – these can be useful in getting to the heart of the problem quickly and effectively.
Troubleshoot After Installation
Once you’ve completed the installation process, you should test your new thermostat to make sure everything works properly.
Here are some tips to help you troubleshoot problems after installation:
Make Sure That The Thermostat Is Placed Properly
Make sure that the thermostat is installed in the proper location.
For example, if you have a ceiling mount thermostat, then place it over the center of the room.
Also, make sure that the thermostats face towards the area where you plan to use it.
Check The Thermostat’s Wiring
After connecting the thermostat to the control panel, double-check all wiring connections.
If you notice any loose or damaged wires, then you’ll need to repair them before continuing.
Reset The Thermostat
If none of these steps helped solve your problem, then you may need to reset the thermostat.
To do so, first, unplug the thermostat from both the wall socket and the control panel.
Next, press and hold down the red button on top of your thermostat. Release the button only when the indicator lights start flashing.
The thermostat will now reset itself.
Reinstall The Thermostat
When you’ve finished troubleshooting, reattach the thermostat to both the wall socket and control panel. You’ll also want to replace the cover plate.
Turn On The Heat/Cooling System
Now that you’ve replaced the thermostat, you’ll want to turn on your heating/cooling system.
Follow the instructions provided by your HVAC technician to ensure that everything is working properly.
Check For A Power Issue
In some cases, a thermostat that is not working may be the result of a power issue.
Check that any power cable requirements are met and that if you are using any type of power cord, that this is in good working condition – all too often engineers and electricians report a problem with a power cord that is damaged or frayed, and this can result in the thermostat failing to work as it should.
You should also check that the power outlet (see also ‘How To Wire Combination Switch Outlet‘) that the power cord is connected to is working properly and that the power outlet is switched on.
Check The Thermostats’ Settings
You may find that the settings for the thermostat are incorrect. In this case, you’ll need to adjust the settings manually.
First, remove the thermostat from the wall socket and control box. Then, open up the thermostat and look at the settings.
Adjust the settings until they match what your HVAC technician told you were correct.
Check For Software Updates
Depending on the type of thermostat that you have, you may need to check that you are running the latest system and software.
This could mean downloading an update through the Internet.
Having an understanding of the main problems that can occur with your thermostat – and the easiest solutions to these – will help to ensure that your home remains warm, comfortable, and relaxing, no matter how bad the weather outside may get!