If your home is too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter, you may have a problem with your thermostat and not your heating and cooling systems. Sometimes, an air conditioner and furnace stop working properly when the thermostat isn't clean inside. A dirty thermostat can't pick up the right temperatures in the home and relay them to the furnace or AC accurately. As a result, your home stays hot or cold all the time.
The main function of the thermostat is to monitor and read the temperatures in your home and convey this information to the furnace and air conditioner. If you don't do maintenance or check the thermostat, it may transmit the wrong temperatures to your systems. Before you throw out or change your thermostat, try this helpful tip to solve your heating or cooling problem yourself.
Clean Out Your Thermostat
Thermostats can build up dust, pet dander and other airborne debris over time. Although your thermostat's cover keeps most of these contaminants from entering the front of it, some debris can enter the back, sides or top of the thermostat. The debris eventually settles around the wires and connectors inside the thermostat, which disrupts the thermostat's ability to communicate with the AC or furnace.
You can clean out your thermostat in seven simple steps. Here's what you do:
- Interrupt communication between the thermostat and heating or cooling system. You can do so by switching the thermostat from on or auto to the off position.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the cover of the thermostat, then set it aside.
- Remove the batteries from the thermostat. The readings on the thermostat will disappear until you replace the batteries after the cleaning.
- Use a duster to gently clean out the inside of the thermostat, but be careful not to disturb, move or break the small wires inside the device. The wires are fragile and can easily pull away from their connections.
- Clean out the cover with a damp cloth, then dry it thoroughly with a soft towel.
- Dust the outside of the thermostat piece that attaches to the wall, then reinsert the batteries into their correct locations.
- Replace the cover and secure it tightly to the wall piece with the screwdriver.
Now, it's time to reset the thermostat's temperature settings. Choose a setting that you want the furnace or AC to reach as it heats or cools the home. Then, turn the thermostat to the on position and wait for the system to kick on. Once the system comes on, it may take a few seconds before you see the temperature readings change. If the thermostat doesn't decrease or increase to the temperature you set, or if the temperature stays the same, proceed to the next step below.
Schedule a Heating and Cooling Repair Appointment
When you can't solve your heating and cooling problem on your own, it's best to call a HVAC contractor. The contractor will take the troubleshooting steps a little further by examining the wiring of the thermostat. The wiring between the thermostat and the wall can loosen up when your home settles on its foundation. Once you have loose wiring, the communication between the thermostat and heating or cooling system slows down or stops.
Additionally, if your thermostat doesn't go with or match your furnace or air conditioner, it can create communication problems between the devices. Although there are universal thermostats on the market, some heating and cooling systems only work correctly with thermostats that match them specifically.
The thermostat you have in the home may not be strong enough to support the size, energy requirements or brand of your AC or furnace. The contractor can easily check to see if this is your issue and replace the thermostat with the right one.
If none of these problems contribute to your home's ability to maintain cool or warm air, the contractor will look at the air conditioner and furnace to see if they have issues that need repairing. Click here for additional reading on HVAC maintenance and repairs.