Easy Guide to Troubleshooting a Thermostat At Home

troubleshoot a thermostat

Thermostats are commonly used to trace several issues with heating and cooling systems. However, there is no point in relying on your thermostat reading if it is out of adjustment. There are times when it is as easy as changing the batteries to troubleshoot a thermostat. However, there are times when it becomes near impossible to troubleshoot a thermostat without professional help.

Troubleshoot a Thermostat

Do not panic! We recommend you first check the manual and try to figure out the possible options of how to troubleshoot a thermostat. Other potential issues include your thermostat might be dirty, crooked on the wall, or incorrectly located where it’s struggling to get a proper reading – these issues can also cause an inaccurate reading.

How to Troubleshoot a Thermostat?

We have discussed below our tried and tested method to help you troubleshoot a thermostat without professional help. However, if this method and all the other solutions do not seem to fix the issue, it might be the time to upgrade your thermostat as it might be outdated.

  1. Turn off to the home heating system.
  2. Take out the thermostat’s coverage. With most thermostat types, you can pull the cover off directly. However, to ensure that you do not break it, please consult your thermostat’s user manual.
  3. Carefully and gently remove all dirt and dust with the help of a soft brush or a vacuum with a comb attachment. If the thermostat has two parallel metallic strips, clean them with a soft, clean cloth.
  4. Investigate for corrosion. Most times, you can successfully remove corrosion with an electric corrosion cleaner. If you aren’t able to remove it, your thermostat outdated, and it’s about time to replace it with an upgraded version.
  5. If you have a mechanical thermostat (not electronic/ programmable), be sure it is mounted level on the wall. Check it with an accurate torpedo level.
  6. For a thermostat to function correctly, it is essential to install it approximately five feet from the floor, placed where it can easily sense an air sample that is consistent with room temperatures. Make sure that the thermostat is not located behind a door, in a corner, close to a window, inside a closet, or near your home heating or cooling system. In case, it is mounted in one of these locations, think about relocating it. Relocation may require rerouting wires, so you might need professional help unless you have enough DIY experience to handle it yourself.
  7. In case not one of these measures works, change the thermostat with a brand new programmable thermostat.

Common Thermostat Issues

As you may have learned from our steps provided above, troubleshooting a thermostat for common issues isn’t tricky. The crucial thing is that you identify the problem, which will help you determine if you can fix the issue at home or need professional help. Following are the most common thermostat problems that can be compromising its performance:

Incorrect location

A thermostat needs to be in the right position to work optimally. Make sure that it is not located near a heat source such as a lamp or a television. This issue can lead to incorrect readings and commands.

Dirt Or Corrosion

A common issue in older thermostats that malfunction is dirt or corrosion. Dust and dirt should be cleaned regularly, and mild corrosion can be removed with a special cleaner. However, if a thermostat has a lot of corrosion, it is best to replace the unit.  

Dislocated Anticipator

Problems with the anticipator are common in mechanical thermostats. If you have noticed cycling on and off too frequently or too less, try to adjust the anticipator. 

The anticipator is a flat metal pointer on a scale. If the furnace lets the room temperature rise too high or drop too low or rise too high before it’s the cycle, then try moving the metal lever a mark further.

You will have to wait for a few hours for the thermostat to adjust to the new setting and notice a change.

Worn-out batteries

If you have an electronic thermostat, then one of the most common issues that can rectify any problems you are having with the unit is batteries that are dying or have died. Change the batteries when the low battery alert is on.


Keeping your thermostat running requires regular maintenance and cleaning. Whether you have a mechanical or electronic thermostat will work best if you place it correctly and keep it maintained. Troubleshooting a thermostat at home is not a challenge. However, it is a good idea to consult a professional if the thermostat problems are reoccurring frequently.