At the heart of your Bastrop home’s HVAC system is the thermostat. Without a thermostat, it would be very hard to ever get your home comfortable. Sometimes, though, it can seem as if your thermostat is working against you because your home is uncomfortable despite what the thermostat indicates. To prevent wasted energy and other problems, it’s important to test your thermostat to ensure that it’s working properly and maintaining the correct temperature in your residence. Here are a few tips from Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating to help you do just that.
Understand How Your Thermostat Works
To monitor for proper thermostat operation, it’s important to first understand how thermostats work. There are two main types of thermostats: non-programmable and programmable. Programmable thermostats allow you to set your HVAC system so that your home reaches certain temperatures at specific times. Manual thermostats allow you to set one temperature that your system will maintain until you select a different temperature.
Some types of thermostats use a device called a bi-metallic strip to detect the temperature. The metals in the bi-metallic strip expand and contract at predictable rates as the temperature changes. These expansions and contractions either close or open an electrical circuit so that your thermostat can trigger your HVAC system to turn on or off. Other types of thermostats use wax reservoirs or gas-filled bellows, though these tend to react less predictably and aren’t as common in today’s thermostats.
Check Battery Levels
Maintaining good battery levels is an important part of making sure that your thermostat is working properly. You’ll typically find batteries in programmable thermostats. These thermostats need batteries in addition to the power they receive from your HVAC system to allow them to remember the settings you choose. You’ll also find them in many manual thermostats.
If it seems that your thermostat’s performance is degrading over time, it’s a good idea to check the batteries first. Since batteries can last a long time in a thermostat, they may begin to corrode before they lose power. If the batteries are corroded or lacking power, you will need to replace them and then check to see if your thermostat begins working correctly. To maintain good ongoing thermostat operation, try to replace your thermostat’s batteries about once a year.
Use a Separate Thermometer
Since your thermostat needs to be able to sense the temperature, it’s important to make sure that the temperature it’s sensing is correct. One of the easiest ways to do this is to mount a separate thermometer near the thermostat and then check to see if the two devices agree. Ideally, you’ll want the two devices to register the same temperature. However, because of differences in temperature sensing, the two devices may differ by a couple of degrees even if they’re both working properly. If you notice a separation that’s any larger than that, it’s a good idea to give Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating a call to allow us to look into this discrepancy.
Check for Recovery Mode
When your home isn’t at the temperature you expect, it’s important to figure out whether this is a short-term or long-term problem. If you’ve only noticed the temperature issues recently, you may want to make sure that your HVAC system isn’t in recovery mode when you’re noticing problems.
Recovery mode is a function of programmable thermostats that engages your HVAC system prior to the time you’ve programmed it for. Thermostats do this to ensure that your home will be at the correct temperature at the time you selected. If the system only turned on at the selected time, it could take quite a while for your home to reach the desired temperature after your arrival. However, if you get home before the recovery mode is finished, it may seem as though your thermostat is malfunctioning because the system will be running, but your home won’t be at the correct temperature yet.
Look at Your Utility Bills
In some cases, a malfunctioning thermostat can cause your system to work overtime, resulting in a sudden spike in your utility bills. When you call Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating, we can come to your home and look at your thermostat to ensure that it’s not malfunctioning and causing your HVAC system to run longer than necessary. Since there are a few components in your HVAC system that can cause higher utility bills when they malfunction, this is an investigation best left to the professionals. If you do notice higher utility bills, act quickly before the problem becomes more pronounced.
Check for Corrosion
While not all thermostats use metal resistors to detect the temperature in your home, the models that do are at risk for potential corrosion. This won’t happen overnight, but over many years of use, the resistors in a thermostat can corrode, significantly decreasing their ability to expand and contract following predictable algorithms. Eventually, this could cause your thermostat to turn your HVAC system on and off at the wrong times because the thermostat doesn’t know the actual temperature in your home. Since thermostats do use an electrical current to operate, it’s best to let a trained technician from Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating inspect your thermostat to see if it needs to be replaced.
Newer thermostats, called smart thermostats, have many incredible features that make it easy to keep your home comfortable. In certain cases, the fancy features you’ll find on a smart thermostat can take a little extra time to learn. For example, many smart thermostats can operate in a mode where they learn your living patterns so that they can turn your HVAC system on and off at the correct times without you having to program those times. If you’re not familiar with that mode of operation, it can seem as though your new thermostat isn’t operating properly. That’s why it’s important to read any manuals that come with your new thermostat.
Of course, if you have any questions that you can’t answer by reading the manual, you can always give us at Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating a call for assistance.
One final variable that you can check is the placement of the thermostat. Specifically, check to see if the thermostat is located close to a window where it could receive direct sunlight. Keep in mind that as the Earth revolves around the sun, the angles of the sun coming into your home will change, meaning that your thermostat may not receive direct sunlight all through the year. In this case, your thermostat may be inaccurate for part of the year and completely correct for the remainder of the year. If this happens, you’ll want to work with Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating to find a new location for your thermostat.
Your Home Comfort Specialists
At Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating, we take pride in our ability to help our customers in the Bastrop, Texas area maintain high levels of comfort in their homes. That’s why we install, maintain, and repair air conditioners, furnaces, indoor air quality equipment, and much more.
Since our founding over 20 years ago, we’ve been working hard to treat every customer with the utmost respect. That’s one big reason why we continually receive five-star customer reviews. To learn more about proper thermostat operation, be sure to contact us at Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating today.