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The Hard Truth About Mercury Thermostats

Frankly, owning a mercury thermostat is like having a small, hazardous waste container hanging on the wall of your home. If you live in a home built before 2005 and the thermostat was never replaced, odds are it uses mercury to measure the temperature and cycle the furnace on/off.

Replace Mercury Thermostats Made Prior to 2005

Mercury thermostats are based on the same principle as the old thermometers used to take your temperature when you were a kid. The problem is that the mercury inside those thermometers is toxic at best, and can be deadly if ingested or inhaled by small children or animals.

Your thermostat probably contains mercury if:

  • It’s circa 2005 or older
  • It operates using a knob or sliding lever
  • You remove the cover and notice a small glass ampule, or tube, containing silver liquid

The HVAC systems installed in older homes utilized these mercury thermostats out of necessity. Now, however, innovative digital options are available as replacements.

Digital Thermostats are Safer & More Energy Efficient

The good news is that innovative digital thermostats are both safer and more efficient than their mercury counterparts. You can use the new thermostat’s programmable features to keep your home comfortably warm or cool when occupants are inside the house, and conserve energy when the home is empty. Also, newer thermostats are more streamlined, which is a bonus for your interior design.

If you choose to replace a mercury thermostat by yourself, take proper precautions. Wear gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself in case the glass ampule is cracked or broken during the process. Also, you must dispose of the thermostat safely. We recommend using a registered thermostat recycling center in the Cleveland area.

While it’s possible to replace a mercury thermostat on your own, we recommend hiring a licensed HVAC technician to do the job. This will ensure the old thermostat is removed safely and the replacement is both appropriate for your system and installed correctly. The tech will also make sure your old mercury thermostat is disposed of and recycled properly.

Contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling to schedule a thermostat replacement.

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