Thermostats are commonly found in most homes and are also used for commercial applications as a means of regulating room temperature. The photo at the right shows common thermostats and the glass ampoule under the cover which contains the mercury.
Mercury thermostats should not be disposed of in the regular trash.
The information provided below will:
- Help you identify thermostats which contain mercury,
- Identify mercury-free alternatives, and
- Provide information on proper disposal of mercury containing thermostats.
Identifying Thermostats Containing Mercury
To determine if your thermostat contains a mercury switch, remove the front cover. Once the cover is removed you should be able to locate one or more glass ampoules (switches) that contain a silver liquid (mercury). The photograph above shows the glass ampoule which contains mercury.
Electronic thermostats, which are mercury-free, are available. The best alternative is to use what are called programmable thermostats. These thermostats can be programmed to keep the temperature of a house a certain level depending on the time of day and the season. Programmable thermostats are encouraged for energy savings.
Household and commercial thermostats can be taken to a household hazardous waste collection event sponsored by your local municipality or solid waste district or to any local plumbing or electrical wholesale supplier who participates in the TRC (Thermostat Recycling Corporation) collection program for free disposal.
TRC was formed by Honeywell, White-Rodgers and General Electric, to provide for the proper handling and recycling of wall-mounted mercury thermostats. Under this voluntary, industry-sponsored effort, plumbing, heating and electrical contractors drop off old mercury switch thermostats at participating wholesalers, regardless of brand. Wholesalers collect these discarded mercury thermostats in protective boxes supplied by TRC. Full TRC boxes are shipped by the wholesalers to a TRC recycling center. Once at the TRC recycling center, the mercury ampules contained in the thermostats are removed and sent to a mercury recycler.