Home heating and cooling systems are incredibly important to have working and functional, especially during the winter and summer months as your home can become unbearable. But it’s important to know and understand how long they will last and how to determine if it’s malfunctioning.
A typical thermostat can last around 10 years, but after a decade they may start to show signs of aging due to wiring issues, rusting, dust, or just normal wear and tear.
Use this article to learn the signs of a bad thermostat, how to troubleshoot it, and when you need to purchase a new thermostat.
Signs of a Bad Thermostat
Your thermostat is incredibly important as it regulates the heating and cooling of your home. A faulty thermostat can mean your home will have irregular temperature and it can have a financial burden to you.
A faulty thermostat may kick in your thermostat too often even when it’s not needed, or it can heat or cool your home higher than necessary which will incur additional costs to you.
Here are a few signs of a bad thermostat to watch out for
- When your heating or cooling system seems to run constantly and doesn’t stop, it means it is likely that there is a wiring issue or your thermostat isn’t calibrated. You can check your user manual to see if there is a calibration process, otherwise, it may be time for a replacement.
- If you notice the temperature seems off and you adjust the thermostat up or down and the display doesn’t light up or is unresponsive, you may need to just replace the batteries. If the battery replacement doesn’t resolve the issue, then it’s time to replace the unit.
- Another key sign is if your heating or cooling unit doesn’t turn on. If you’ve adjusted the temperature and the unit doesn’t kick in right away, it’s likely there is a wiring issue that isn’t allowing the signal to be sent from the thermostat to the heating/cooling unit.
- The last sign of a bad thermostat is if the temperature setting doesn’t match the temperature of the room itself. You’ll need to have a secondary thermostat present to double-check the temperature next to the thermostat itself. It’s important to note that you must place the secondary thermometer next to your thermostat to check. It’s very common that different rooms may have different temperatures as there are always fluctuations between rooms whereas the thermostat room is the one you’ll measure.
Ensure you watch for each of these signs if you have a thermostat that heats or cools your home no matter if your thermostat is new or old. A thermostat can last up to 10 years, but it can also be faulty at any time.
Troubleshooting Bad Thermostats
Once you’ve detected that something is wrong with your thermostat and you think it might need replacement, first do a few troubleshooting steps to ensure it’s not something that can be fixed without buying a new unit.
How to troubleshoot a bad thermostat?
- Confirm that the location of your thermostat is in an appropriate location. A common error is that the thermostat may be placed on a wall which is next to a door or which has direct sunlight hitting it. Direct sunlight can often heat the thermostat which causes the thermometer to malfunction. Also, holes in the wall behind the thermostat can cause it to get cooler/hotter air that is present in the room which can cause it to malfunction.
- First, ensure the thermostat is set correctly. Since not all thermostats automatically switch between heating and cooling, we often forget as the seasons change to flip the thermostat from heat to cool and vice versa. If you’re trying to heat your home and it’s on “cold” then you may feel that it may be broken when it doesn’t start to heat it as it falls below a certain temperature.
- Additionally, while setting your thermostat to the “On” status may not be enough, and often you have to hit the option for “Auto” to make it automatically turn on the heating/cooling to hit the desired temperature.
- A common troubleshooting step to determine if there is an issue is to turn the thermostat up or down by 4 degrees. If its winter turns it up 4 degrees and if it’s summer turn it down 4 degrees. As you do this, you should listen to confirm if your HVAC system kicked in to adjust to the new temperature.
- If your unit is non-responsive, try pressing the buttons to get the display to turn on. If it doesn’t, replace the batteries in the unit and try again to ensure it’s not a battery issue.
- One very common issue is dust. Over the years that you own the unit, it will start to collect dust which affects the electrical components of the thermostat. Ensure you remove the cover and clean with a cloth to remove all dust. You can also use an air gun to blow the dust off, but make sure you wear a mask so it doesn’t get in your lungs.
- Test your circuit breakers as well to ensure it’s not a faulty fuse in your system. You can do this by opening the cover of the breaker box to ensure none of them have been tripped. If so, reset the breakers and test the HVAC system again.
- Lastly, check all of the wirings. To do this, you’ll need to ensure the electricity to the unit has been powered off. Check each wire to ensure they are fastened properly and if not, remove them, check that the wires aren’t damaged or frayed, and then re-attach them properly to ensure they have a firm connection. If you are not trained to handle wiring, then it’s always recommended to contact a certified heating and cooling technician for your safety.
If you’ve gone through all of the troubleshooting steps above and it still hasn’t resolved it, then it’s time to invest in a new thermostat for your home. As always, contact a certified technician if you are not trained on how to investigate and fix faulty thermostats.