Smart thermostats can provide many different benefits for homeowners with the most important being a reduction in energy costs. While you may be familiar with contacting your HVAC professional when it comes to anything regarding your heating or cooling system, replacing a thermostat can typically be done as a do-it-yourself project. By following our step-by-step guide below, you can successfully replace your old thermostat with a new smart thermostat that you’ll enjoy for many years to come.
Check for Compatibility
Before you invest in a smart thermostat, you need to check your existing HVAC system to ensure compatibility. One of the best ways to do this is to jump online to the website of whatever smart thermostat you’re thinking of purchasing. Most will have a compatibility checker that will take you through a series of steps to determine whether or not your HVAC system operates with that specific smart thermostat.
It’s essential to note that many smart thermostats require a C-wire. This wire requires continuous power, and not all older HVAC units will have this wire. If your HVAC system doesn’t have a C-wire present, you can install an adapter. You can typically pick up a C-wire adapter at any local hardware store, and it should only take you a few minutes to install. If you’re not comfortable doing the install yourself, you can always have a Proactive Comfort technician install the C-wire adapter for you.
Turn the Power Off
Once you’ve determined that your HVAC system is compatible with whatever smart thermostat you want to install, it’s time to get started with the installation process. You first want to go down to your electrical panel and turn off the circuit breakers that are attached to your HVAC system. Some heating and cooling systems may have a single breaker, but others may have multiple breakers. Make sure that you pay close attention to all the circuit breakers on your electrical panel to ensure that you’re turning off every switch that is associated with your HVAC system.
The reason you want to shut off the power during this installation process is to keep from accidentally shorting out any of the electrical components of your HVAC system. Contrary to popular belief, wiring at your thermostat is very low voltage. You can work with it while your breakers are on without undergoing any physical harm like electrocution. This is also something our licensed technicians can do for you if you aren’t feeling confident.
Take Off the Faceplate
Next, it’s time to remove the faceplate to your existing thermostat. Most thermostats will simply have a compression fit faceplate that pops on and off. If you’re struggling to get the faceplate off, you want to check for any hidden screws. Every now and then, a thermostat may have a hidden screw underneath it that holds the faceplate on.
Label Wires and Remove the Backplate
Once the faceplate is off, it will show you the backplate and the exposed wires. Now is a good time to take a picture with your smartphone of the wiring setup. While you can put labels on all of your wires, there’s always a possibility of them falling off. This is why we recommend taking a picture so that you can refer back to it when you go to wire the new thermostat.
Now, you want to disconnect each wire from the terminals on the backplate. Some backplates may require you to back out small terminal screws to loosen up the wires. Others may have a small tab that simply needs to be pressed on with a pen to release the wires. Be very gentle when you’re pulling the wires out because you don’t want to damage them.
Once your wires are disconnected from the backplate, it’s time to remove the backplate from the wall. Most are simply screwed into the wall with some basic screws. Other backplates may slide on and off the screws that are in the wall. As you start to remove the backplate, make sure that you’re very careful with allowing the wires to be pulled through it.
Attach the New Backplate
Go ahead and grab the backplate off of your new smart thermostat, and hold it up to the wall. If it doesn’t align with your existing screws, you’ll want to mark where your new screw holes need to be. If the position of your new screw holes doesn’t allow your screws to go into a stud, you’ll need to utilize wall anchors to ensure that the backplate is safely adhered to your wall. Make sure that you carefully thread the wires through the hole in your new backplate before you screw the plate onto the wall.
Reconnect Your Wires
Now, it’s time to reconnect all your wires. Take note of the photograph that you took before on your phone to ensure that you’re hooking up the wires correctly. Again, some smart thermostats may have push levers that you need to hold down to put in the wiring, but others may have small terminal screws that need to be backed out. If your smart thermostat has terminal screws, make sure that your wiring is completely wrapped around the screw. You want to ensure that it is in the same direction as the screw turns to tighten.
Install Your New Faceplate
Once all your wiring is secure, it’s time to pop on your new faceplate. Most faceplates just snap right on top of their backplates. If yours doesn’t, you could have wiring in the way that is being compressed. Make sure that you move the wiring into its designated housing prior to trying to put the faceplate on so that you don’t pinch any of the wiring.
Turn the Power On
Next, you want to head back down to your breaker panel and turn on all the circuit breakers for your HVAC system. When you come back up to your thermostat, it will either start working on its own, or you may have to hit a power button, depending on the specific smart thermostat that you purchased. Most will start going through a series of prompts that allow you to accurately program your new smart thermostat for use.
It’s essential for all smart thermostats to have internet connectivity in order to function. This requires you to hook up your new smart thermostat to your home’s Wi-Fi. You may need to utilize an app on your phone that is connected to the manufacturer of the smart thermostat in order to complete the setup process. This allows you to easily adjust any of your smart thermostat settings from your smartphone. You should be taking the time now to program your settings so that you can ensure your HVAC system is working efficiently.
Quality HVAC Services
Proactive Comfort offers quality HVAC services for the entire Hooksett, NH region. We’re also available for all of your plumbing, ductless mini-split, and water filtration needs. We even offer membership and financing. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment!