What is involved in replacing a home thermostat?

A thermostat is a device that controls heating and cooling. Thermostats can be found in homes, cars, trucks and RV’s. Having a properly functioning thermostat will not only allow you to be comfortable, it will also save you money as your heating and air conditioning operates more efficiently. For purposes of discussing thermostat replacement, we will focus on replacing a thermostat in your home.

First, for those who do not want to go the “DIY” route, simply call a licensed electrician or HVAC contractor. It will be a simple service call.

For those who do want to go the “DIY” route, start by purchasing a replacement thermostat from your local hardware or home improvement store. Before you head to the store, it might be helpful for you to take a picture of the thermostat to be replaced and to bring your original packaging if you still have it. Most replacement thermostats will work with the unit you currently have, but there are always exceptions. Matching them up properly will save you time and effort.

Once you have purchased your replacement thermostat, you will want to read the directions thoroughly. Remove the old thermostat from its wall mount and take pictures of the existing wiring. At this point, do not touch any wires! Go to your circuit box and turn off the individual circuit breakers designated for your thermostat, your furnace and your air conditioning.

Now that the back of your old thermostat has been separated from its wall mount and now that you have pictures of the wiring, you can disconnect the wires. As you disconnect the existing wires, it is very important to write down (or label with tape) where each wire (or a particular wire color) connects to the base of the old thermostat. Some wires may have no connections, label or record those as well. Once you have disconnected all of the wires from your old thermostat, it is a good idea to tape them all together with a larger object such as a ruler so they do not disappear down the opening on the wall. Make sure the tips of each wire are shiny and will make a good connection in the new thermostat. You can scrape or sand the wire tips or make new cuts if the wires are long enough.

Your new thermostat will come within own wall mounting plate. Install it after the original plate was removed. Make sure it is level, which is especially important if your replacement thermostat has a mercury tube.

You can now wire your new thermostat to match exactly how your old thermostat was wired. Note: if the wire connection options are not clear to you, it would now be a good idea to review your notes and pictures. If still not clear, you should call an electrician or an HVAC contractor.

Once the new thermostat is wired properly, make sure you have installed batteries to your new thermostat if it came with a battery option. You can now attach the thermostat to the new wall mount. Most slide down on the wall mount from top to bottom. Go back to your circuit box and turn the power back on for the thermostat, heating and air conditioning.

Set a temperature that will activate your HVAC system (both heat & cooling separately) and each time, give your system about 5-10 minutes to activate. If there is a reset button on your new thermostat, be sure to activate it.

You should be good to go. If for some reason your thermostat is not working properly, re-read the instructions and retrace each step you took in the installation process.

What is whole house surge protection?

An electrical power surge is a sudden and short duration spike in the voltage, usually from the electrical grid. These surges can happen anywhere and can be very destructive. External power surges can be caused by lightning or by the your utility when it switches power grids. These surges enter the home through phone lines, cable TV cables or electrical service lines. Power surges can also originate within the home and are caused by large appliances like freezers and air conditioners turning on and off. Most homes experience a fair amount of power surges that are undetectable. It is the more severe power surges that can do damage to appliances within your home.

Because electrical power surges can take several paths, whole house surge protection will involve multiple layers of defense. Ideally, you should think in terms of multiple “layers” of protection: at your power meter, at your distribution panel or fuse box, your phone and cable TV lines and where your individual devices are plugged in.

There are three Surge Protection Devices (SPD’s) that address the multiple layers of defense mentioned above: Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3.

Type 1 SPD’s protect your home from external surges caused by lightning or by utility power grid switching and are installed between the utility pole near your home and your power meter. Installation will require approval from and coordination with your electric utility.

Type 2 SPD’s are located at your circuit panel and help distribute excessive current discharges from external sources (lightning or utility) so as to protect all circuits in your home.

Type 3 SPD’s are “point of use” surge protectors located where individual appliances are plugged in. Sometimes they are referred to as surge strips. These can be an inexpensive and effective solution for your largest and most important appliances.

For those seeking a full line of defense against power surges, it is a good idea to consult with a licensed electrician who can help determine a solution that is best for your home.

Why do you need exterior lighting?

Exterior lighting can be an important addition to your overall home plan. Security lighting around the perimeter of your home can deter burglars who prefer to operate undetected in the darkness. In addition, security lighting has a safety component as the more your property is illuminated at nighttime, the less chances someone can trip and fall on your property. A well-thought out landscape lighting plan can add to the curb appeal of your home and add to your outdoor entertainment in the evening. Whether your goals are safety or aesthetics, most experts believe exterior lighting can add value to your home.

As with most home improvement projects, it is a good idea to consult with a professional as you decide on your exterior lighting plan. Like many trades, electrical contractors tend to specialize.

When it comes to your safety-related security lighting (flood lights, exterior garage parking lights, driveway lights, bollard lights, exterior sconces), your home electrician will be a good resource. He will be able to help you determine the proper amount of safety lighting needed, where it should be located and what kind of fixture is appropriate for each area. Often times, your solution can make good use of LED lighting for maximum energy efficiency.

For your landscape lighting, you can find electricians who have become specialists in that line of work, which often requires a heavy “artistic” component. A landscape lighting plan can include many features. Examples include providing illumination for walkways, steps, patios, pools, trees and even the home itself. You will find that there are a wide variety of fixtures to choose from, including: above ground fixtures, in-ground fixtures and tree mounted fixtures . There are many different styles to suit all tastes such as modern, traditional, “mushroom”-shaped canopies, “pagoda”-shaped canopies, etc. Most landscape lighting is available in energy-saving models that feature LED bulbs. A well-thought out landscape lighting plan will not only add to the enjoyment and curb appeal of your home but will also provide the benefits of safety and security.