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3 Warning Signs You Have A Broken Thermostat

Broken Thermostat

Uh oh. The heat’s not working right … and it’s one of those icy winter days in Calgary. But before you assume that your furnace is at fault, check to see whether you have a broken thermostat.

If you spot any of the three warning signs below, there’s a strong possibility that you need thermostat repair or replacement.

1. Your Digital Thermoset is Unresponsive

In this scenario, your furnace isn’t functioning and you see a totally black or blank screen on your thermostat. Just like the dreaded computer “black screen syndrome,” this spells trouble. You’ll have to get a qualified HVAC technician to inspect your digital thermostat.

2. Resetting the Thermostat Doesn’t Change the Temperature

Another possibility is when your furnace seems to have lost communication with your thermostat. It may be harder to pinpoint this problem, so try what we call the 5° Test:

How the 5° Test Works

  • Check the current thermostat setting.
  • Turn it up at least 5 degrees Celsius.
  • Wait a few minutes.
  • Notice whether warmer air is blowing from your vents in response to the change in the thermostat setting.
  • If the air is the same temperature as before (or your furnace does not even switch on), chances are you either have a broken thermostat or a furnace issue. Call Knight to troubleshoot and repair your heating problem.

3. Your Home Temperature Doesn’t Match the Thermostat Setting

Now things get more complicated. Your thermostat seems to be working and so does your furnace. However, the temperature of your home just somehow doesn’t match the setting on your thermostat.

There’s a simple way to check this out. Buy a room thermometer at your neighbourhood hardware store or home centre. Place it near your thermostat, wait 5 minutes, and then compare the readings.

Do both devices show the same temperature? Great. If, on the other hand, there’s a discrepancy, you may have a problem with your thermostat … but wait. You don’t necessarily have a broken thermostat. Ask yourself one more question:

Is There a Problem With the Thermostat Location?

Sometimes a thermostat seems to start acting up just because of where it’s been positioned. So check your thermostat’s location. For example, suppose it is close to a sunny window or similar heat source or blocked by heavy curtains or furniture.

If that’s the case, it can’t sense your home temperature accurately and therefore won’t signal the furnace to start running. The problem is, even though your thermostat is nice and toasty, you will be freezing.

Once again, turn to your trusted HVAC experts for advice on where to mount your thermostat, for an accurate reading and a comfortable home.

What Causes a Broken Thermostat?

Now you know the trouble signs to look for. However, you’re still wondering how your thermostat got broken. And what should you do to fix it?

Here are the common causes of a broken thermostat, together with their solutions. (BONUS: Some are DIY fixes!)

1. The Thermostat Isn’t Getting Power

Your thermostat might not be receiving the electrical power it requires to function properly for one of the reasons below:

The batteries are running out of juice. If your thermostat is battery-powered, batteries that are low — but not yet dead — can start causing trouble even before the “Low Battery” warning appears. Keep an extra set on hand and at the first sign of trouble, try replacing them. You may spare yourself a whole lot of hassle!

The breaker has tripped. If your thermostat is hardwired, check the breaker box for a trip. Even if everything looks normal, flip the thermostat’s breaker on and off just to be sure. You’ll be pleasantly surprised if this solves the problem. If the thermostat does not respond, or the breaker re-trips repeatedly, it’s time to call a professional for help.

The wiring has gone bad. The wiring of an older thermostat sometimes becomes worn, damaged, or corroded, causing a thermostat malfunction. Once again, you’ll want to contact a pro for assistance with this potentially dangerous repair.

2. The Thermostat Interior Needs Cleaning

Dust, hair, and debris are dangerous to any electronic appliance with delicate components – like a thermostat. Try cleaning the thermostat interior if you’re experiencing problems.

  • First, turn off the power to the device.
  • Open the cover.
  • Gently remove dirt with a lint-free dry cloth (moisture should never come in contact with electronic mechanisms!), a soft brush, or a spritz of compressed air.
  • Replace the cover and reconnect the power.

3. The Thermostat Anticipator Needs Adjustment

Do you still have an antique … er … analog thermostat? If so, the anticipator might need adjustment.

  • Take off the thermostat’s cover.
  •  Look for the anticipator (a metal tab).
  •  Labels near the tab should indicate “shorter” or “longer” cycles, allowing you to manually adjust the furnace cycle length.

Though this adjustment could take care of your thermostat short term, it’s still important to mention the problem when you make an appointment for HVAC maintenance.

4. It’s Time For a New Thermostat

All good things must come to an end. If your thermostat is 10 years old or more, it could have simply reached the end of its useful life.

It’s time to find a new thermostat as a replacement.

Knight Will Take Care of Your Broken Thermostat

It’s Knight to the rescue! You can trust our team for expert troubleshooting and repair of your broken thermostat.

And if your thermostat has reached the end of its days, we’ll help you find a convenient, energy-efficient replacement. Ask us about programmable, zonable, and smart thermostat options.