You're In Control: How to Replace Your Thermostat

If it’s time for a new thermostat, don't fret. With the advances in thermostat technology, it’s a simple project for the experienced DIYer.

By Tina Jepson

 

When something is wrong with your thermostat, you usually find out pretty quickly. Your thermostat is an indispensable little tool for regulating your home’s heating and cooling systems. This unassuming device that ensures your house stays cool in the summer and warm enough in the winter. 

 

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For example, you may notice that the temperature setting isn’t matching up to the actual air temperature in your house. If you’re shivering (or sweating) inside your home, but your thermostat says the temperature is just right, you’ll want to get to the bottom of your climate control conundrum as soon as possible.

 

Troubleshoot your thermostat by changing the temperature setting. If your AC/heat doesn’t kick on as it should, you might just have to replace the thermostat.

 

Don’t worry. Replacing a thermostat is easier than it seems. Whether your thermostat is old, yellowing, or just not working properly, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the idea of replacing it yourself. 

 

Switch Off the Power

It may seem like common sense, but it’s an easy first step to overlook. Switching off the power to both the thermostat unit and your HVAC system ensures that you don’t do any damage to the electrical system or hurt yourself as you’re disassembling and reassembling the wiring.

 

The easiest (and most complete) way to turn off the power is to find the switches in your home’s breaker box and put them in the “off” position.

 

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Handle the Old Thermostat

Next, remove your old thermostat. The faceplate is usually either removable by sliding the plate away from the mount, or flipping it open.

 

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Under the faceplate, you’ll notice a bunch of wires. While we have complete faith in your ability to perfectly remember how they’re all situated, play it safe and snap a quick photo of how they’re arranged with your phone. You don’t want to confuse your wires when you’re putting this all back together later!

 

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For general reference, the list below includes all the standard wire colors you’ll find “under the hood” of your thermostat.

 

  • White=Heat
  • Yellow=Cooling compressor
  • Green=Fan
  • Orange=Heat pumps
  • Red=AC cooling
  • Blue=Common

 

Disconnect all the wires from the old thermostat mount. Then, use a drill or screwdriver to remove the mount from the wall.

 

By now, you’re left with an empty area and wires sticking out from a hole in the wall. It’s always best to secure the wires together with some tape before heading on to the next step because they can fall back behind the wall and cause an added headache for you!

 

Install the New Thermostat

Before you install the new thermostat mount, measure the area around the new mount against the area the old thermostat covered. If there are any extra holes that need to be filled, or paint that needs touching up, do this before proceeding.

 

Ensure the mount is level while installing. Next, connect the wires using your handy photo as a reference. Don’t forget to also reference the thermostat’s own installation manual as well. Chances are, it’ll include special instructions specific to your unit, such as connecting lesser-known wires for features such as Wi-Fi connections and voice control.

 

Finally, install the new faceplate by either sliding it or snapping it into place. Before you sit back and relax in your now perfectly climate-controlled house, don’t forget to turn the power back on for your thermostat as well as your heating and cooling units.

 

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Congratulations! You've Installed a New Thermostat!

Thermostats are an affordable way to make your home feel comfortable and help control your heating and cooling costs. Now that you know how to install a new one, your temperature-regulating options are wide open.

 

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Head out to your local home improvement store and check out their selection of Wi-Fi-enabled or automatic programming thermostats to find a model that matches your needs.

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

We’ve come a long way from the simple bi-metal thermostats of yore, so you may as well consider all the new thermostat tech that’s available. None of it should be too much for a seasoned DIYer like yourself to handle anymore.