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DIY Thermostat Troubleshooting: Try This First


When your air conditioning system doesn’t work properly, the first thing you check is probably the thermostat. This is a good start. While the issue often does not originate in the thermostat, it’s important to rule out any obvious issues. But do you really know what to check for?

Before you contact a technician, you may want to try these tips. Often, we show up to “fix” something the homeowner could have done with relative ease.

Settings to Double-Check

Digital, programmable thermostats can be difficult to understand. According to the Washington Post, a lot of people do not understand how to use the thermostat settings correctly. If someone has changed the settings by accident, you may be unsure of how to get them back to normal. Here are a few things you can look for:

  • “Fan Only” – If you see these words on your thermostat screen, it means the fan in your blower unit is on, but no cooling is taking place. A fan alone cannot cool down a home, and this setting should be used rarely if at all.
  • On/Off – We know this may be the first thing you check. But people in new homes or with new thermostats may not realize there is likely an on/off switch on the side of the thermostat.
  • Heat/Cool – It’s also possible that someone has accidentally changed the system to heating mode, so check to be sure this isn’t the case.
  • “Unoccupied” – Your thermostat may have the ability to temporarily suspend preprogrammed settings if the building is believed to be unoccupied. Switch to an “automatic” mode instead.

When all else fails, you can call a technician, or we recommend checking the thermostat manual. You may even be able to locate a guide online to the particular thermostat model you are using.

Problems with the Thermostat

Often, the real trouble is elsewhere in the system. Your thermostat is not a very complicated device, and it’s rare that the thermostat is the reason an air conditioner has shut down or started cooling insufficiently. However, when the thermostat is at fault, it’s often due to these issues:

  • Poor Placement – If the thermostat is in a location of your home that is unusually cool or warm (like too close to the kitchen), it may not get an accurate reading. This can cause temperatures to fluctuate drastically, or it may lead to short cycling (shutting off and turning back on again frequently).
  • Old Batteries – No display on the thermostat? It may just need new batteries.
  • Electrical Issues – If there are electrical problems within your thermostat, it’s best to let a trained technician handle it.

Other Ways to Troubleshoot an AC System

When the thermostat is not at fault for your lack of cool air, there may be other ways you can troubleshoot the system. Check it out, but call in a technician if the problem is not so easily resolved.

  • Resetting a Circuit Breaker – For an air conditioner that has completely stopped working, this may do the trick.
  • Changing the Air Filter – This may be all you need for an air conditioner that is short cycling or providing insufficient airflow.

Air On Demand provides services for your air conditioning in Miami, FL. Call us today!