Brr, it's cold in here... oh wait no it isn't.
August 17, 2010 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Our thermostat really wants to heat our apartment. We really want it to cool our apartment. What could be causing this?

We live in Austin, TX (renting an apartment in a big complex) and our thermostat belongs to Austin Energy through their energy saving program but we are having an issue that is driving me batty. Our thermostat resets itself. It loses all the programming (day, time, what temp we want it to be and when) and sets itself to HEAT 69. Since it is the summer in Texas the heat never actually comes on because it never gets below 69 degrees BUT it also means the AC doesn't come on and it can get pretty toasty in here. They say they have never heard of this problem.

Austin Energy has come out twice, the second time they replaced the thermostat but hey guess what? So far it has happened twice again today. Since it appears not to be the actual thermostat, what else could be causing it? Austin Energy pretty much responds with "I don't know" and our apartment managers respond with "the thermostat belongs to Austin Energy." Since I can actually be home this week to talk to both I'd like to go in with some ideas of things I want them to check. Sooo, any ideas?
posted by magnetsphere to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you find a serial number or part number on the thermostat? Answers will depend on whether it's AC-powered or battery, or AC with battery back-up.
posted by muddgirl at 10:04 AM on August 17, 2010

It says White-Rodgers and also Comverge Model #1F88-275
posted by magnetsphere at 10:22 AM on August 17, 2010

Here's a manual (PDF). I'm guessing that the batteries are installed, and are installed correctly? It sounds like the main power to the thermostat is blinking for some reason, but even then, I'm not sure why the battery backup isn't saving your settings.

Try flipping your circuit breaker to see if that reproduces the behavior, perhaps.
posted by supercres at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2010

A little more detail: noting when the reset happens is critical to figuring out what causes it. Does it happen when the A/C powers up? Does it happen when the washing machine comes on? Does it happen when you flip a light switch? None of these should happen, of course, but bad wiring is a possibility. (Also, has the Austin Energy thermostat ever worked correctly?)

Note p.2 of the PDF manual, regarding batteries. Make sure the "battery tag" is actually removed, and that the polarity on the AAs is correct. If the AAs aren't actually engaged, power blinks in your apartment would cause a reset. Turning off the circuit breaker, like I noted above, would simulate such a blink.

The weird thing is that both problems would have to exist by this explanation, but stranger things have happened. Otherwise, it would have the be a problem with the A/C unit, which I have no ideas about. But if it's not a problem with the thermostat (seemingly ruled out with the replacement), it must be a problem somewhere in your apartment, and your management should take over.
posted by supercres at 10:46 AM on August 17, 2010

Well, it was off when I woke up this morning to walk the dogs at 6am so no one had been flipping switches or anything throughout the night (at least in our apartment), I then went back to bed and it was off again when I got up at 10:30 so same scenario there. No washing machine or dishwasher was running or anything during the night. Unfortunately we usually don't realize it has done it again until we notice it getting warm in the apartment and go check. Or if I come home in the evening and the dogs are panting and trying to find a cool spot on the hard floors because it is 90 degrees in here.

It hasn't ever worked correctly since we moved in but that was only about 2 months ago. The previous tenants didn't complain about it having issues according to the apartment management.

I'll check batteries and the circuit breaker idea too. Thank you!
posted by magnetsphere at 10:58 AM on August 17, 2010

I didn't see you mention this, but I'm assuming you've tried forcing the system to COOL mode via the SYSTEM button? (if it's set up right, it should cycle through some combination of COOL/AUTO/HEAT/OFF, as displayed on the screen). Also force the fan to ON to make sure you're moving air.

If you can't even it to switch into COOL, it could be an default settings issue. Many thermostats are designed to be configurable to work with different types of HVAC systems. It's possible that the defaults settings are incorrect for your particular installation, and therefore you need to tweak them each time the thermostat is reset.

Specifically, try setting "Step 1" in the configuration menu to "SS1" (single stage), and then forcing the system to COOL. According to the manual, the default is "MS2" (multi-stage), which may not be correct for your unit/building's system. You can also try HP1/HP2, but SS1 seems more likely (I'm guessing you might only have AC and no heating system hooked up to the thermostat).
posted by kanuck at 12:47 PM on August 17, 2010

I am having a very similar problem - same thermostat model, big apartment complex in Austin - except it switches itself to 62 heat, not 69 heat, and I think the heat DOES come on.

My "step 1" in the configuration menu was already set to SS1, so there is nothing for me to change there.

magnetsphere, if you see this, did you ever fix your problem? I wish I could just tell the thermostat not to turn on the heat at all. I don't see a way to do that in the configuration menu, can anyone tell me if this is possible?
posted by monguin61 at 11:35 AM on July 3, 2011

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