How to Diagnose Common Thermostat Problems

There are a lot of us who’ve experienced a time (or two) when our car has overheated. It wasn’t so much because there was something wrong with the engine itself; it was due to the fact that our thermostat was either stuck or broken.

Well, when it comes to our HVAC unit, it also comes with a thermostat. And if it happens to have something wrong with it, that can also lead to serious problems with our cooling and heating system.

So, how can you properly diagnose some of the common thermostat problems that tend to occur? That’s a really good question. We are going to share with you five ways to do just that below:

Check the settings of your thermostat. The first thing that we recommend you do is to make sure that your thermostat is on. If you happen to have a wireless system, then you may need to replace the batteries that are inside of it. However, if it is plugged into the electrical system of your home, check to see if your breaker is either flipped or broken. If the problem appears to be the breaker and it continues to flip, it’s important that you contact an electrician just as soon as possible to thoroughly inspect it.

Check the needle. If you happen to have an older thermostat, something else that we recommend you do is check the metallic needle that’s inside of it. Sometimes this requires taking off the top of the thermostat and gently maneuvering the needle with a small screwdriver. Something else that you may want to do is use a small, soft-bristle brush to clean off the needle. It might be stuck simply because it has a collection of dust and debris on it.

Check the filters. Another thing that can cause your thermostat to not work as well as it should is if you happen to have dirty filters in your HVAC system. When filters are clogged, it causes your unit to work harder than it actually should which ultimately results in a malfunctioning thermostat. So, make sure that you change your filters every 60-90 days. You can find replacement filters at your local home improvement store.

Check the vents. If you know that it’s time for an HVAC orĀ furnace replacement then another problem that you might notice is that air is not properly coming out of your vents. When this is the case, it’s usually not due to a thermostat issue (although an HVAC technician can confirm it either way), but because your ducts needs cleaning. One surefire way to know if this is indeed the case is by using a white piece of tissue. If you place it in front of your vent while the air is blowing and it’s dirty, then you definitely need to get your ducts clean, which brings us to the final point.

Check your ducts. Just like dirty filters can mimic a thermostat issue, so can dirty ducts. The good news is that, in most cases, you can actually clean out your ducts on your own. For step-by-step instructions on how to do just that, visit and put “cleaning air ducts” in the search field.

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  5. 5 Tips for Setting Your Thermostat in Extremely Hot Weather