Do Digital Thermostats Have To Be Level?

When it comes to digital thermostats, does their placement matter? In particular, should they be level or is it okay if they're not? We're curious, too, so we've researched this to learn more and share the answers with you.

Digital thermostats need to be level so that they look good on the wall. This will also help with accurate temperature readings and prevent any electrical issues that could arise had it been leaning on one side. 

Continue reading to learn more about the importance of keeping thermostats level. We'll also talk about how to make your mercury-bulb thermostats sit level on the wall. Lastly, we'll discuss what could possibly go wrong with your digital thermostat and its respective solutions. Let's get to work!

hand adjusting air conditioner button at 70 degree Fahrenheit in the apartment for comfortable, Do Digital Thermostats Have To Be Level?

Does a thermostat have to be level to work?

Modern Programming Thermostat on a orange wall

A thermostat is a device crucial to regulating the temperature inside your house. It impacts your quality of life and helps make you feel comfortable by maintaining the optimal temperature level in your home.

Placing your thermostat in the right spot is critical to its function. For example, if you put it near a heat source or direct sunlight, it would sense that the room is much hotter than it really is.

As a result, it would signal your cooling system to work harder to bring down the temperature level. Since your air conditioning unit is working harder, it consumes more power and you'll have a higher electric bill by the end of each month.

In the same way, thermostats need to be level for them to function properly. This is especially true for older thermostat units with mercury bulbs and switches inside them but we'll talk more about them later on.

When it comes to digital thermostats, there are different opinions about the importance of keeping them level. Some say they would work just fine no matter how you put them on the wall. Keeping it level is just for aesthetic reasons. Having it sit level on the wall makes it look neat and smart like a professional installed it.

Click this link to find this digital thermostat on Amazon.

On the other hand, some say keeping digital thermostats level is still crucial to their performance and accuracy in temperature reading. It can prevent having an overworked HVAC system especially when it isn't necessary in the first place. It can also help avoid short cycling issues.

Since there's no harm in following the latter's recommendation, it's best to have your digital thermostat level to fend off any complications later on. Plus, you have to admit, it would look better on your wall and keep the OC in you satisfied. 

Mercury-Bulb Thermostats 

Many experts say that thermostats need to be level for them to work properly. And as we've said earlier, this is truer for those older models of thermostats particularly those using mercury bulbs or switches.

When you open this type of thermostat, you will see that it has a bimetal strip with a mercury tube inside. As the indoor air temperature changes, the metal strips expand or contract and affect the position of the mercury tube which opens or closes the control circuit of the HVAC system.

Being level gives the mercury bulb a point of reference instead of just floating around inside the thermostat. This will boost its accuracy in reading the indoor air temperature. Experts say that for every degree that the mercury bulb is off, the thermostat's accuracy in reading the temperature is also off by one degree.

That is why it's crucial to keep your mercury-bulb thermostat level. You can be confident that it reads your indoor temperature more accurately and consequently, your HVAC system will function more efficiently and effectively.

How To Level Your Mercury-Bulb Thermostat

Old brown circle thermostat on brown wooden wall

You can use a standard carpenter's level to check if the thermostat is level in relation to the wall and floor. The house shifts over time and it may affect the position of your thermostat. So, it's good to do this from time to time. Make the necessary adjustments to straighten its position.

Find this carpenter's level on Amazon.

Round thermostats have a flat spot in their sub-base when you open them. You can use this as your reference point when leveling the thermostat on the wall.

These thermostats should also have a backing next to the wallboard to make them more stable instead of just using sheetrock. You can also use Molly's or drywall anchors to help you keep your mercury bulb thermostat level and stable.

The anchor should be inserted all the way through the wall so that the unit won't wobble and change its orientation. The electrical wires should also be connected properly and intact inside the thermostat so they won't get in the way and allow a smooth flow of electricity.

Can a digital thermostat be wrong?

Hand turning a home thermostat knob to set temperature on energy saving mode. fahrenheit units. Composite image between a photography and a background.

You might be feeling cold inside the house but when you check the thermostat, it says that your indoor temperature is still warm. If you're pretty sure you're not sick, you'd be wondering why there's a discrepancy between your thermostat reading and your home temperature. Could it be possible that your digital thermostat is wrong?

Well, it could be. Thermostats aren't failproof devices and there are many instances wherein they can malfunction. Here are some possible reasons and what you can do about them.

Worn Out

Thermostats are running 24/7 to continuously monitor the temperature in your house. They are also subject to wear and tear especially as more time passes by since your last purchase. Even if it doesn't shut down, it can be evident that it isn't functioning properly anymore by the incorrect temperature reading.

Old thermostats need to be replaced to have a reliable and accurate reading. It'll make your HVAC system more efficient and you will save a lot on electric bills.

Wrong Location

Proper placement is important for your thermostat. Too close to a heat source and it'll sense that the temperature is warmer. Or in the winter, when it is close to drafts coming from the door or window, it'll think that the temperature inside the house is much cooler.

Check the location of your thermostat. It should be strategic. The optimal location is in an interior wall, away from direct sunlight and drafts, and mounted at the right height so that it isn't too hot or too cold.

Defective Thermistor

Digital thermostats are equipped with a sensor that measures the indoor temperature and then tells your HVAC system what to do. When the thermistor is defective, it won't be able to tell the actual temperature in the room. The temperature can fluctuate or your thermostat will display an inaccurate reading. 
To confirm if this is the problem, you can use a multimeter with an ohmmeter and see if there's continuity. You can also put a heat source like a portable heater near the thermostat to see if the reading would go higher. If it doesn't adjust the reading, then it's safe to say that your thermistor is bad.
You can have this part replaced to put your thermostat back in good running condition.

Dirty Thermostat

Yes, dirt can enter your thermostat through the gaps. When it builds up, it'll affect its performance especially as these devices are very sensitive. As a result, they can malfunction and affect your HVAC system.
To clean your thermostat, just open the case and use a small brush to remove the dirt and grime that have settled on its surface. You can also fold a piece of paper and insert it in between the tiny gaps to catch dirt that has been stuck there.

Failing Battery

Some thermostats still use batteries as their main or secondary power source. As such, when the batteries are already failing, you can expect the thermostat's performance to decline as well.
This problem is easy enough to solve. Just replace your batteries with new ones. Make sure you check the owner's manual to purchase the right battery size.

Defective Wiring

closeup of a digital, programmable thermostat

Digital thermostats are electrical devices and they rely on electric wires to conduct electricity so that the unit works. When the wires aren't installed properly or get broken, your thermostat won't work as expected.
If you're knowledgeable about wires, you can check their condition but if not, it's best to have a technician take a look at your wiring and put it back in order.
These are just some of the most common issues that you can possibly encounter with your digital thermostat and the reason why it's not giving you the correct temperature reading. Most of them are easy enough to solve on your own so you can have it fixed ASAP without the help of an HVAC technician.

Final Thoughts

It's best to keep your digital thermostat level both for aesthetics and functionality. It'll look smart when it's plumb and square and you can avoid any operational issue that could happen when the thermostat isn't positioned properly.

Check out these posts for some related reading:

Why Is My Wireless Thermostat Overheating?

How To Turn Off My Honeywell Thermostat [Inc. Pro Series, T3, Rlv, & More]

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