10 Maintenance Tips to Avoid Thermostat Repair

You can avoid or delay thermostat repair with proper maintenance. A well-maintained thermostat generally lasts about 10 years. Although one of the least expensive HVAC components to replace, it’s crucial for reaching and sustaining optimal temperatures in your home. 

A thermostat is wired directly to your heating and cooling system. It allows for the temperature to be adjusted and the system to be turned on and off manually or automatically. Therefore, thermostat maintenance should be part of your routine. These are some tips to keep it in top shape:

1. Replace the Batteries

A low battery reduces the amount of power available to your thermostat. This can make it inaccurate and less able to manage your comfort. To avoid these issues, replace the thermostat batteries every six months or as the manufacturer recommends. Even if your thermostat is hardwired, it may have backup batteries. Change these to prevent disruptions in heating and cooling due to a wiring issue.

2. Clean the Thermostat Often

A buildup of dirt and dust can prevent your thermostat from working properly. Cleaning it every few months can avoid HVAC performance issues due to controller malfunctions. To clean a thermostat:

  • Snap off or unscrew the cover, depending on the model.
  • Using a soft brush, dust off internal components.
  • Use compressed air to clear debris from tight spaces.
  • Look for loose or corroded wires; call an electrician to fix any issues.
  • Clean the cover and place it back on the unit.

3. Adjust the Anticipator

If you have an older thermostat, it may have a heat anticipator. It saves energy by turning off a furnace or boiler early and allowing residual heat to maintain the room temperature. Adjusting the anticipator can restore normal cycling. This requires moving the pointer toward a higher setting if the system is cycling too frequently or a lower setting if it’s not turning on enough.

4. Avoid Changing Settings Too Frequently

Adjusting the setting too often causes your HVAC system to work harder, increasing energy consumption. This is true no matter what type of thermostat you have. However, frequent adjustments are even harder on mechanical units. It’s best to find an optimal setting so you’re not constantly adjusting the temperature or forgetting to readjust it when you leave home or go to sleep. Or, consider upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat. 

5. Be Mindful of Thermostat Placement

Constant exposure to high heat can damage a thermostat. The unit should not be near a heat source, such as direct sunlight, a draft, or an appliance. To protect its integrity and accuracy, it should be mounted on an interior wall in or near a frequently used room.

Excess heat can cause inaccurate readings, affect the cycling and efficiency of your HVAC system, and increase the likelihood you’ll need thermostat repair. Consider relocating your thermostat. Or, address the problem by closing a window shade, sealing a draft, or moving heat-producing appliances (if possible). 

6. Set a Heating or Cooling Schedule

Setting a schedule can save energy, provide more consistent comfort, and avoid having to adjust the temperature throughout the day. Programmable thermostats can be set on daily or weekly schedules based on when you’re home or away. Avoid using the “Hold” feature indefinitely because it can overwork your HVAC system.

Depending on the model, smart thermostats can learn and adapt to your behavior, while geofencing allows some units to sense when you’re arriving home and adjust the temperature accordingly. Other models integrate with other smart devices so, for example, they can lower the temperature once a smart door lock is triggered.

7. Calibrate the Thermostat

If the temperature keeps fluctuating, your energy bills are increasing, or your HVAC system is running more frequently, your thermostat may need calibration. To calibrate a thermostat, compare its reading with a dependable thermometer. If the readings differ by more than 3℉ after 20 minutes, check the product manual for how to calibrate the unit. Calibration techniques differ based on the type and model of a thermostat. 

8. Take Error Codes Seriously

If your thermostat detects a problem, it may display an error code. The user manual should list each code and what it means. Common error codes indicate:

  • A malfunctioning thermostat
  • A faulty temperature sensor
  • The unit needs calibration
  • An HVAC system error
  • The filter must be replaced
  • The system is overdue for maintenance
  • Wi-Fi has been disconnected
  • The thermostat’s batteries are low
  • A faulty wiring connection
  • A firmware update has failed
  • An HVAC unit is overheating
  • The temperature is outside the normal range

Ignoring an alert can lead to missed maintenance, which increases wear and tear. It can also lead to reduced efficiency, costly repairs, and a decreased system lifespan.

9. Take Advantage of All the System’s Features

Newer thermostats have advanced features that improve functionality and can avoid the need for thermostat repair. Some of these include:

  • Eco Mode: Some programmable and smart thermostats have an Eco Mode that saves energy, reduces your carbon footprint, and can improve comfort. It also provides the convenience of automation.
  • Zoning: If your thermostat is compatible with a zoning system, you can achieve the desired comfort level in each room. Zoning also helps reduce wear and tear because heating, cooling, and airflow are directed to where it’s needed.
  • Energy Reports: Analyzing energy reports from a smart thermostat can help you identify usage patterns and opportunities to save energy. It can also help determine whether to schedule service, which can avoid major repairs and increase your HVAC system’s longevity.

10. Schedule Professional Maintenance Every Year

A thermostat, with the rest of your HVAC system, should be evaluated at least once a year. Your local HVAC contractor can test and calibrate the thermostat for you. They can also check the unit for issues to fix before they lead to more expensive AC, heater, or thermostat repairs.

Schedule Maintenance with Trio Heating & Air

We provide high-quality thermostat installation, repair, and maintenance in San Jose, CA. Our licensed HVAC technicians can help no matter what type of thermostat repair you need. They can service manual, digital, programmable, and smart models. As part of our Protection Plan, thermostat maintenance is performed during your annual AC and heating system tune-up. To learn more or book thermostat services for your home, contact us online or call (415) 223-5096.

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