How to Tell If Thermostat is Bad

When the HVAC system has problems heating or cooling the house, not many people will consider checking the thermostat. However, this small wall-mounted device can be the cause of your system’s malfunction.

Despite its size, a thermostat controls the entire heating and cooling system operations. This means that when the device malfunctions, it might seem like the HVAC has a problem. In fact, most people will rush to check the major parts like the furnace or the air conditioner.

But, this shouldn’t be the case. When your HVAC system has a problem maintaining optimal indoor temperatures, consider checking your thermostat first.  

However, the big question is: how do you detect a bad home thermostat? Will it display some unique signs?

Well, check out the following tips:

7 Signs that the Thermostat is Bad in Your House

If your HVAC isn’t working or is misbehaving, here is how to tell if the thermostat is bad.

  1. Your HVAC System not Turning On

This is among the most common bad home thermostat symptoms. If your HVAC isn’t turning on or responding to your thermostat commands, it might be a sign of a malfunctioning thermostat.

Generally, the thermostat allows you to turn on the heating and cooling system, set the required temperatures in the house, or shift between cooling and heating options. If you enter any command on the thermostat and nothing happens to your HVAC, the chances are that you are dealing with a bad thermostat in the house.

  1. Unresponsive Thermostat to Settings

Once you input any temperature changes or setting on your thermostat, the response should be immediate. Typically, your thermostat makes small clicking sounds when you make some changes. After a few seconds, your heating or cooling commands are applied.

If you don’t hear the clicking sound, or nothing happens after you’ve made the changes, your thermostat might be having issues. Having it checked is the best thing to determine if it needs some simple repairs or replacement.

If you can do it yourself, that’s great; however, contact an experienced HVAC expert to inspect the system for you if you can’t.

  1. The HVAC Keeps Turning On or Off

 Generally, a thermostat is designed to communicate with your HVAC system. It’s the device that sends signals of what needs to be done to the system. For instance, increasing or lowering the temperatures at specific times.

If the HVAC stops receiving these commands from your thermostat, it’s most likely that there’s a problem with the thermostat. For example, the wiring within the device might be frayed or damaged, disconnecting it from the HVAC.

If this is the case, a qualified HVAC expert can help you diagnose and identify the problem. They will advise you accordingly on the next course of action.

  1. Wrong Thermostat Readings

Thermostat readings determine temperature levels in your house, prompting the HVAC to act.

This means that if the readings are faulty or incorrect, you might be having a different temperature level to what you want. If this happens, you might need to consider replacing the thermostat.

However, you don’t just decide to replace the device without confirming it has a problem. You can use a portable indoor thermometer to determine if the thermostat readings are right. If the readings on the thermometer differ from those on the thermostat, then the thermostat might be faulty.  

Wrong readings might result from a malfunctioning thermostat sensor, mainly because of old age, misuse, or manufacturing defects.

  1. HVAC System Short Cycles

When your HVAC system starts to experience short cycles, it might be the ideal time to make that replacement. Short-cycling usually happens when your HVAC system continually turns on and off without completing a heating or cooling cycle.

Short cycles lead to inefficiencies in temperature control, meaning that your system won’t offer the comfort you desire. If your heating and cooling system are ineffective, changing the thermostat can be an excellent option.

However, ensure you’ve confirmed that the thermostat is damaged by seeking services from an expert. Remember, something else could be the problem.

  1. High Energy Bills

While we seek optimal comfort during the hottest or coldest months of the year, no one wants to incur extreme energy bills to achieve it. Everyone seeks to get comfortable while still being able to save energy.

Luckily, most HVAC systems are designed to offer that comfort while consuming minimal energy. If you notice a steady spike in your monthly energy bills, your heating and cooling system might be to blame. And if it is, you might be dealing with a bad thermostat in the house.

For instance, if the thermostat isn’t reading the indoor temperature correctly, it might lead to your HVAC overworking. A professional HVAC technician should be able to diagnose the problem and give you the best solution.

  1. Continuous Temperature Changes

Another one of the bad home thermostat symptoms is variation in temperature levels without warning. If you notice continuous changes in your indoor temperatures that you haven’t applied, then it’s time to check your thermostat.

A bad or malfunctioning thermostat might have a hard time maintaining the correct settings. Subsequently, it may keep changing these settings without warning, causing variations in your indoor temperatures at different times.

If you notice such an issue, you might want to call your local HVAC technician to have a look at it.

Troubleshoot a Bad Thermostat

If you are experiencing some of the issues we’ve mentioned above, here is how to troubleshoot for a bad thermostat.

  • Check the screen: If the screen is blank or not lit, this can be a sign of a faulty thermostat.
  • Confirm the settings: If you notice changes in your programmed settings, it could be because your batteries are dying or the thermostat is malfunctioning.
  • Check your batteries: Since thermostats are powered by batteries, first confirm whether the batteries are working before concluding the thermostat is bad.
  • Inspect the circuit breakers: If the breakers have not tripped and the thermostat isn’t working properly, then there might be a malfunction.

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