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What Are the Most Common Thermostat Problems?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 16, 2024
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The most common thermostat problems in relation to a home's heating and air conditioning system are low battery power and human error, such as someone inadvertently resetting the thermostat. In cars, the radiator thermostat may also have issues. These are often caused by a thermostat which doesn't open or close effectively. Additionally, if a heating and cooling system itself begins to fail, thermostat problems can result because the system and thermostat are not communicating effectively enough.

One of the most common thermostat problems involves dead batteries. Many people may assume that if a digital thermostat is still displaying numbers, the batteries are fine. This is not always the case, as when batteries begin to falter the digital read-out may become inaccurate before it goes out entirely. It is important to check the batteries or change them every few months, or at any time if the thermostat seems to be operating ineffectively. This is often the first step in troubleshooting since it allows homeowners to rule out dead or dying batteries as the source of any issues before calling a technician.

Another of the most common thermostat problems is a resetting of the system. This may be done accidentally by home or business owners who change the temperature settings or other features of the thermostat. This often requires a technician to reprogram the device back to its original setting.

It is also common for homeowners who are more accustomed to thermostats with a dial to misconstrue the function of a newer digital one. Sometimes perceived problems are really only due to homeowners setting the device incorrectly or otherwise using it improperly. To ensure this doesn't occur, it is a good idea for home or business owners or operators to have a trained professional or manufacturer representative instruct them on the proper use of the thermostat. Instruction manuals are also handy for this reason.

Manuals may also offer steps for troubleshooting potential problems before a technician is called. If a homeowner no longer has the original manual, they can often be downloaded online using the manufacturer name and model number. A technician from a local installation or contractor's offices may also be able to help with troubleshooting.

Cars and other vehicles also have thermostats which can occasionally have problems. The most common cause of overheating and thermostat problems in vehicles is a thermostat which doesn't open or close effectively. This can lead to the engine becoming either too cold or too hot by allowing too much or too little coolant from entering. Replacing the thermostat is often the best solution, although sometimes they may be serviced or repaired.

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