Home Home Improvement Broken Thermostat? Possible Causes (and Fixes)
Home Improvement

Broken Thermostat? Possible Causes (and Fixes)

broken thermostat

Are you dealing with a broken thermostat that you’re not sure how to fix?

While thermostats don’t have a set lifespan, on average, you can expect your thermostat to last about ten years. However, sometimes people experience malfunctions long before the 10-year mark.

While sometimes the only way to fix a broken thermostat is to replace it, other times, there are some troubleshooting techniques you can employ to get your thermostat back in working condition.

But first, you need to figure out what caused your thermostat to break in the first place. Read this guide to learn about the causes of a broken thermostat and how to fix it.

Signs Your Thermostat is Broken

Before you can start fixing your thermostat, you first need to be aware of the signs that your thermostat is broken. Here are some of the top signs that your thermostat is damaged or broken:

Your HVAC System Won’t Turn On

The thermostat is the main point of control for your heating and cooling system. If you can’t turn your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump on from the thermostat, you might assume that these units have broken.

However, the thermostat might be to blame instead. The good news is that replacing a broken thermostat is significantly cheaper than replacing your AC or heater.

Your System Short Cycles

Short cycling occurs when your system powers on and then suddenly powers back off. Instead of providing continuous airflow, it does its work in short energy bursts that don’t really have a significant impact on the indoor temperature.

If your AC is short-cycling, the first thing you want to do is to check your air filter. If there’s a thick buildup of dirt, lint, or debris in your filter, then that may be the reason why your AC is short-cycling.

Short cycling can also lead to inaccurate thermostat readings or other malfunctions related to the thermostat.

Your AC or Heater Runs Non-Stop

The opposite issue of short cycling is an AC or heater that doesn’t know when to turn itself off. Once the desired indoor air temperature has been reached, it’s your thermostat’s job to alert your HVAC system to shut down.

If your thermostat isn’t capable of reading indoor air temperatures, it won’t aid in proper temperature regulation. This can lead to the AC or heat running longer than it should, long beyond the ideal temperature has been reached.

Program Settings Getting Deleted

If you have a programmable thermostat and keep needing to re-enter the information, it may be a sign that your thermostat has entered the end of its lifespan. Or, it may indicate that the thermostat was poorly designed.

If you find that your programmable thermostat is driving up your energy costs and not sticking to the temperatures you input, then it may be broken.

Different Temperature Readings Throughout Your Home

If you’re noticing dramatic differences in thermostat readings from one room to the next, then there may be an issue with the thermostat itself.

However, you’ll also want to check to make sure all air registers are open, especially in the rooms that feel overly warm.

No Response to Temperature Changes

Your air conditioner and heater should instantly respond to changes in settings. If your home is overbearingly hot, then it shouldn’t take long for the AC to kick in once you’ve decided to change the thermostat to a cooler temperature.

If you have to wait for more than a few seconds for things to kick in, then there may be an issue with the thermostat. Likewise, if you turn your AC off because the room is too chilly, your cooling system should turn off right away.

If you find that it doesn’t, then it may be time to have your thermostat inspected.

How to Fix a Broken Thermostat

Once you realize there’s a problem with your thermostat, it’s time to fix it. Here are some ways to troubleshoot a broken thermostat:

Make Sure the Thermostat is On the Right Setting

First things first, you need to make sure the thermostat is on the right setting. If it’s winter it needs to be set to “heat,” and if it’s summer it needs to be set to “cool.” While this may seem like an obvious step, many people overlook it.

You should also set your thermostat to “auto” mode so your heating/cooling system isn’t constantly running.

Replace the Batteries

If you have a digital thermostat, it may be time to replace the batteries. You should replace the batteries in a digital thermostat once a year.

Check the Wires and Connections

Remove the thermostat cover and checking the wires to ensure they’re all firmly connected.

If your wires are connected and the thermostat isn’t working properly, you may want to hire a professional. They can open the thermostat and individually test the wires to figure out which one is faulty.

Clean Your Thermostat

If your thermostat has a little lever that moves with the temperature, then you have a mechanical thermostat. If not cleaned properly, a mechanical thermostat can start to malfunction due to dust.

Take off the thermostat cover and dust the inside with a small cloth or brush. If this doesn’t fix things, you may want to consider replacing your mechanical thermostat with the best smart thermostats.

Still Can’t Fix Your Broken Thermostat?

If you’ve tried all the thermostat troubleshooting methods above and still can’t fix your broken thermostat, then it may be time to replace the decide altogether. Or, you could hire an HVAC technician to take a look at it.

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more home improvement tips!

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