Troubleshooting Your Thermostat: Top Tips to Consider

The thermostat in your home is a small but mighty system. Whether you own a furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, or any other kind of HVAC system, the thermostat is responsible for relaying messages to it so that it can properly heat or cool your home. That’s why, if your thermostat is not working, it can be a pretty big deal. Luckily, we’re here to help you through some basic thermostat troubleshooting to help you resolve the problem as quickly as possible, before calling a technician for service.

Thermostat is not turning on

One of the most common thermostat problems is the system not turning on, leaving you unable to change the temperature in your home at all. If you click any button on the thermostat and are met with a blank screen, there’s some kind of internal issue preventing the system from turning on. 

What can I do?

If your thermostat is not working at all, the solution to your problem might be very simple — change the batteries. Try popping out the old batteries, putting in new ones, and powering your thermostat back up. If that doesn’t solve the problem, or your thermostat doesn’t have batteries, your home’s greater electrical system might be to blame. If you can safely reach your circuit breaker and know how to reset it, try that and see if your thermostat turns on. If neither of those fixes mitigate the problem, contact an HVAC professional for troubleshooting help.

Thermostat is stuck on one temperature

Your thermostat being stuck on one temperature isn’t ideal, especially if it’s an unfavorable temperature for your home. Similar to if your thermostat won’t turn on, if you find yourself unable to change the temperature on your thermostat, an electrical or system issue is likely to blame. 

What can I do?

If your thermostat is stuck, the first thing you should do is make sure your system isn’t locked. Bumping into your thermostat or accidentally pressing the wrong button can result in it becoming locked, but unlocking it is a quick process. To unlock an American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning thermostat, press the plus (+) and minus (-) keys at the same time for at least five seconds, then try to change the temperature again. If this doesn’t help fix the problem, change the batteries and reset the circuit breaker like you would do for a thermostat that won’t turn on.

Home temperature doesn’t match thermostat settings

American Standard’s programmable thermostats allow you to schedule certain temperature settings in advance depending on the day of week or time of day, so temperature control feels like a breeze. But, if you find your pre-scheduled thermostat settings aren’t matching the temperature you feel in your home, your system might be facing an issue.

What can I do?

First, ensure your hunch that your home is at the wrong temperature is correct. If you programmed your home to be at a cool 70 degrees but it feels more like 80, you can confirm with a simple home calibration. Double check the temperature by taping a thermometer to the wall next to your thermostat. Wait about 20 minutes, then check to see if the thermometer is reading the same temperature as the thermostat.

After confirming your indoor temperature has gone awry, try cleaning your thermostat by gently removing the cover and swiping off dust and lint with a cloth. If that doesn’t help the thermostat regulate the temperature, the problem might be with the larger HVAC system. In that case, try changing the air filters in your HVAC system to help the problem. If neither of these cleaning solutions work, call an HVAC professional for help.

Air Conditioner (AC) thermostat not working

If your AC suddenly stops working, especially during a heat wave, it can be very inconvenient and sometimes even dangerous. Luckily, there are a few common ways to troubleshoot the problem to hopefully get proper cooling and air flow back in your home to keep you comfortable as soon as possible.

What can I do?

If your AC thermostat is not working, the first thing to do is to check whether the thermostat’s display is lit. If it is not, the thermostat cannot signal the air conditioner to cycle on. Oftentimes, the reason might be simple, such as dead batteries, a tripped breaker, or a blown fuse in your main electrical service panel.

If you believe the unit is receiving power and there is a more complicated issue, shut off the thermostat breaker so you can safely take off the cover for closer examination. Inspect for buildup of dirt, soot, dust, or any other form of debris as this can affect your thermostat’s operation and should be kept clean. You can clean with canned compressed air or a soft brush.

If you are still experiencing issues, reach out directly to a professional repair technician to take a look at the wiring and troubleshoot any mechanical and electrical component problems.

HVAC system is not working properly

Since your HVAC system relies on the thermostat to tell it what to do, if your HVAC system suddenly stops working altogether, it could be a thermostat issue. Alternatively, you might be facing an HVAC system that is working, but continues to short cycle or run when you turn it off. Although HVAC system problems can be complicated, troubleshooting your thermostat is a great place to start.

What can I do?

Begin troubleshooting by checking the main source of power in your home and flipping the circuit breaker to reset power. Unfortunately, if that quick fix doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to call in an HVAC professional. Your technician can assess your HVAC system and determine if it’s even the correct system for you based on variables like home size and climate. Oftentimes, an incorrectly sized system causes short cycling or continuous running. If your technician determines your system is correct for your home, they can troubleshoot further to identify if the problem is with the thermostat or HVAC system – and determine how to fix it.

Thermostat not working: When it’s time for a replacement

Although these troubleshooting tips can be helpful when it comes to repairing a malfunctioning thermostat, sometimes a replacement is the best option. Here are a few signs that indicate it might be time for a new thermostat:

  • Thermostat troubleshooting tips are not fixing the problem.
  • Your thermostat has frequent issues that require troubleshooting.
  • Your utility bills are inexplicably high.
  • Your thermostat is more than 20 years old.
  • Your thermostat issue is caused by deep-rooted electrical problems.

Thermostat troubleshooting: When to call a professional

If you’ve tried all these troubleshooting tips but are still facing thermostat issues, it’s time to call in a professional for help. While simple fixes like changing the batteries or dusting off the thermostat can be done by you, the more complicated tasks should be left to a professional to keep you and your system safe. Plus, if you don’t feel comfortable completing these troubleshooting tasks yourself, call an HVAC professional as soon as you notice a problem for guidance. 

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