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What are the signs of a bad thermostat in a heat trace system?

Updated: May 18, 2023

Your thermostat controls the temperature of your heat trace system. If it is not working properly, the system cannot work properly, leaving your property vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Below are some ideas on ways to diagnose the problem yourself, but if you are unsure, it’s always best to call a local heat trace expert. Chaz Wyland, Founder of SnowmobileHow.

It Does Not Respond to Thermostat Control Changes

The most obvious sign of a bad thermostat in a heat trace system is when the system is too hot or too cool. If it’s not responding to changes from the thermostat control, the issue could very well be coming from the thermostat itself.

Luckily, these issues don’t always indicate that a thermostat is entirely shot. It could also be wired incorrectly on not have the proper setpoint for the system it controls.

It’s not always easy to spot the difference between a faulty thermostat and one that is simply wired incorrectly. You can run a circuit test on the thermostat to see if it is working correctly. If it is, then your problem is with the wiring. If it’s not, then you likely have a faulty unit and should replace it.

The thermostat is the central control point for a heat trace system and is critical to proper operation. Knowing how to identify and fix this issue quickly will help you keep the system running properly and avoid future problems.

Troubleshooting Your Heat Trace System; Testing Thermostat Function

I have installed many heat trace systems, and checking for a bad thermostat is one of the issues that, although they are usually not the culprit, can cause the system not to work.

The easiest way to check for a bad thermostat is to turn the thermostat off for a few hours until the tape is cold to the touch. Fill a plastic bag with ice and attach it to the pipe near the thermostat. Turn the thermostat on and see if the ice melts. If the tape doesn't get warm and the ice doesn't completely melt, you know it's probably the thermostat not allowing the tape to heat - time to replace the thermostat.

If the ice does melt, run your hand down the tape to see where the heat stops. Once you get to the place with no heat in the tape, it's time to replace the tape.

Eric Nerhood, Owner and President at Premier Property Buyers. Lynda Fairly, Co-founder, and Marketing at Numlooker.

Heating to the Wrong Temperature

If your heat trace system is malfunctioning, the most common sign of the problem is that it is not warming up properly. At my home, the thermostat was showing the wrong temperature. The heating system was putting out too much heat and messing up the ducts.

Unusual Temperature Readings

Oftentimes when appliances go faulty, the cause lies in the installation. This can be beneficial because most systems are under warranty, so they can be fixed quickly at no cost.

However, a bad thermostat can also be dangerous. Some signs of a bad thermostat in a heat trace system include irrational temperature readings (too high or too low) or circuit breaker trips. If you have the inclination that your thermostat is faulty, consult a professional immediately.

Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement.


This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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