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Pacific Sheet Metal Blog

Has Your Thermostat Been Lying to You?

Posted by Joey Haack on Feb 11, 2020 2:45:00 PM | Updated on 10/13/20 10:28 AM
digital thermostat set at 63 degrees

Your thermostat is an essential part of your home, and it's important to know that you can trust it to work reliably. A faulty thermostat will misreport the temperature, which can run up your electric bill. Plus, if your thermostat is giving false information or not working at all, you’re putting your family's comfort at risk during the hot summer days and cold winter nights. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to check your thermostat for accuracy, when to call a professional, and information about modern, smart climate control technology.


Thermostat Essentials

A thermostat has two essential functions: to switch the heating or air conditioning on and off to maintain the temperature you want and to report your home’s current temperature. Most modern thermostats are digital, although some homes have bimetallic thermostats with manual temperature controls on top. Many modern thermostats allow you to program temperatures throughout the day for the optimal balance of comfort and energy efficiency

Digital thermostats check the home’s temperature through digital sensors or semiconductor devices. Some of these devices are similar to glass tube thermometers, which use mercury or other expandable substances to judge the temperature. These non-moving parts are highly accurate, and they’re often less prone to breaking than older thermostats that use moveable parts. Of course, all machines are prone to error, so it’s important to check any thermostat's accuracy to ensure continued comfort.


Checking Your Thermostat’s Reading for Accuracy

Before calling a professional, you can do a quick and easy test to gauge the accuracy of your thermostat. All you need is a glass tube thermometer, tape, and some soft paper (like a napkin or paper towel). Simply tape the thermometer (with the soft paper behind it to prevent the wall’s heat from interfering) a few feet away from the thermostat. Make sure that both objects are at the same height.

After 20 minutes or so, check to see if your thermostat and thermometer show the same temperature. If they do, then your thermostat is likely working properly. If the readings don't match, your thermostat may be suffering from a number of problems. Certain issues like loose or frayed wiring may require the use of a professional to safely fix them, while newer models may just need a new battery if that’s the main source of power.

If the readings are fairly close, try using a dry toothbrush to clean the vents on your thermostat. Dust and debris may be blocking the airflow, which can result in misreadings. However, it’s more likely that a wire is at fault. After brushing, wait another 20 minutes to see if the temperatures are more closely aligned.


When to Call Your Heating and Cooling Technician

While you can safely remove the front face-plate of your thermostat to check its wiring, it’s safest to avoid actually working with the wiring yourself. If the wires are frayed or loose, you want to ensure that they are safely fixed or replaced to avoid further damaging the system or harming yourself. A trained technician has the skills necessary to quickly solve most wiring problems, which will save you time, money, and frustration in the future.

Additionally, a technician will have the tools to check your system in a number of important ways. They will determine whether your thermostat requires a simple fix or if it should be replaced entirely. If it needs to be replaced, there are many new options that are simple to use and include valuable energy-saving features.


Lennox Thermostats

Lennox has a number of modern thermostats that feature HD screens and a host of special features. Products like the iComfort S30 Ultra Smart Thermostat connect to your smartphone and can automatically switch off or adjust settings when you leave the house. They can also send alerts to your phone when there’s a problem, and you can even use Amazon's voice activation system to control your device.

These smart thermostats can use your area code to determine the outside weather and any allergen warnings. If there’s an excessive level of pollen in the air outside, the thermostat can accommodate you by turning on the fan to refresh your home and improve your indoor air quality.

Smart thermostats are available for every home and budget. Talk to a local HVAC technician today to see what’s right for you.

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This blog post is part of Pacific's Heating and Cooling Series.

Topics: heating and cooling