Are Mercury Thermostats Dangerous and Should I Replace Them?

Does your Kitchener/Waterloo home still have a mercury thermostat? Many homes do. If yours is one of them, there are some things you should know, such as the potential dangers of having a mercury thermostat in your home and how to recycle the thermostat when the time comes to replace it.

But I Don’t Know if I Have a Mercury Thermostat!

Don’t panic! There are a few easy ways to quickly determine whether your home’s thermostat contains mercury. The first is simply to look at it. Mercury thermostats are manual, usually rectangular or circular in shape, and do not use digital displays. So, if your thermostat has a digital screen and curved edges, it probably isn’t a mercury thermostat.


If you can’t tell just by looking at the thermostat whether it contains mercury, take the face off it and look at its innards. If you see a little glass ampule full of silvery liquid, it’s a mercury thermostat. (That little ampule contains up to 12 grams of elemental mercury, making it the single largest source of mercury in your home.)

Mercury thermostats were the standard for nearly 200 years, however they haven’t been made since the early 2000s. New digital thermostats and programmable thermostats are designed to work without mercury. This is due to the hazards that have been discovered to be associated with mercury.

So What Are The Hazards of A Mercury Thermostat

Mercury poses a threat to both the environment and to your health. Direct exposure to mercury can cause neurological damage, behavioral problems, kidney disease and problems with the lungs and digestive tract that can prove fatal.

If mercury is released into the environment it can get into our food sources, most commonly fish. While eating fish is a form of indirect exposure to mercury that is unlikely to affect most people, it is dangerous for expectant mothers. Pregnant women are advised to avoid eating fish and shellfish because ingesting mercury can cause developmental delays and behavioral problems for the child.

What Do I Do With My Old Mercury Thermostat?

Here in Ontario it is illegal to throw away a mercury thermostat. This is because the glass ampule containing the mercury can burst, releasing the toxic metal into the environment. You must have the thermostat recycled by an authorized HVAC contractor like CJ Brubacher Ltd.

Many Ontario local government offices also host occasional household hazardous waste collection events where you can drop your old mercury thermostat in an official disposal bin, but why wait for one of these events when CJ Brubacher Ltd will take of the disposal for you when we replace your thermostat?

If You Still Have A Mercury Thermostat, Now Is A Good Time To Upgrade!

New thermostats are not only mercury-free and safe for your family, but programmable thermostats also help your home be more energy-efficient. Rather than make do with your aging mercury thermostat, call CJ Brubacher Ltd at (519) 669-3362 to have the thermostat recycled and replaced with something better.