While your furnace and air conditioner may do the heavy lifting of changing the air temperature, it’s the thermostat that controls your entire HVAC system.

Taking care of the thermostat is the best way to keep your home as comfortable as possible. When it’s allowed to go without maintenance, the thermostat can begin to act up.

It may call for heating or cooling far later than you expect, or create a short cycling situation that puts wear and tear on your home’s HVAC equipment.

While you need the help of a professional for many thermostat issues, there are some basic maintenance tasks you can tackle yourself.

Cleaning the Thermostat

Dust can find its way inside the thermostat housing, covering the contacts and making it harder for the device to operate as designed. You can do a basic cleaning on the thermostat yourself to prevent small inaccuracies that have a cumulative effect on your energy bills and comfort levels.

Depending on the dust level in your home, you may want to clean your thermostat’s exterior weekly and the interior once every six months to a year.

Start by removing the thermostat cover. Your manual likely includes a diagram of how to do it, or you can look for clips or screws holding it on. Grab a soft brush like a nylon paintbrush and gently dust off any debris on the control board of the thermostat.

Make sure there are no debris or cobwebs on the contacts in particular. A small can of compressed air designed for cleaning computers is a great tool for getting dust in hard-to-reach places without risking damage.

Testing the HVAC System

You can run some simple tests to see if your thermostat is accurate or not. Buy a calibrated thermometer and set it a few feet away from the thermostat at the same height and away from any direct sunlight or drafts.

Then set the thermostat to cycle on heating or cooling at a certain temperature, such as 72 degrees F. Wait until the HVAC system kicks in to see how far the thermostat is from the actual temperature.

A difference of a degree or two is hardly an issue, but bigger temperature differences can cost you money or affect your comfort level. A technician can easily adjust the settings or recommend a replacement after you discover the discrepancy.

Tightening Wires and Cleaning Contacts

When you have the thermostat open for cleaning, you can do a little more to tune up the device to improve its accuracy.

Find the contacts, which are the small fin-shaped pieces of metal. Rub the surfaces with a little isopropyl alcohol to ensure they’re as clean as possible.

Check the screws holding the wires for the thermostat and tighten any that look loose. Don’t forget to periodically replace any batteries that you find inside the housing as well.

Knowing When to Consider a New Thermostat

If your older thermostat is acting up, getting a new model is the best way to get accurate heating and cooling results again. It also gives you a chance to upgrade to a smart thermostat or a model you can control from anywhere in the world.

Don’t settle for a mediocre older model when new replacements are surprisingly affordable and can revolutionize how you control your home’s HVAC system.

Deal with thermostat issues with a single visit from the experts here at Comfort Systems. Our HVAC technicians are standing by and ready to get your thermostat working again.

If you decide a new smart model is your goal instead, we can install it properly so it works perfectly for you from day one.