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How to Tell if Your Thermostat is Broken - 7 Signs

October 13, 2023

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Is your home feeling a little too hot or cold lately? Annoyed by the constant battle with the temperature in your house? Your trusty thermostat may be on the fritz.

So, how to tell if your thermostat is broken? Suppose your thermostat is fluctuating temperatures, getting stuck on one setting, showing a blank screen, making strange noises, displaying error messages, draining batteries quickly, or is just plain old. In that case, it likely needs to be replaced.

But before you panic and call an expensive HVAC repair person, check for these signs that your thermostat needs help:

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1. The Temperature Fluctuates Wildly

You leave the thermostat set at a comfortable 72°F. But then you notice it feels oddly frigid inside. Or sweltering hot. You check the thermostat and see the temperature set way lower or higher than what you programmed. This constant up and down means your thermostat is struggling to maintain the temperature you want. Time to get a new one, or you can call an HVAC repair specialist for recommendations.

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2. It Gets Stuck on One Temperature

On the flip side, if your thermostat gets stuck on one temperature setting and won’t budge no matter what you try, that’s a neon sign something is broken. It likely can’t sense the room temperature correctly anymore to know when to kick on the heat or AC. Dragging out the space heaters or fans whenever you’re uncomfortable gets old fast.

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3. How to Tell if Your Thermostat is Broken? The Screen is Blank

Thermostats have digital screens these days. So, if you notice yours is suddenly blank and unresponsive no matter what you try, that’s bad news. It means the thermostat has lost power completely. This usually points to an electrical issue. Call an HVAC technician to check it out.

4. You Hear Weird Noises

Loud clicking, clanking, or buzzing coming from your thermostat is not normal. These strange noises signal a problem with the internal components. The noises likely mean it can’t properly turn on your heating and cooling system anymore. Best to replace it before the issue gets worse.

5. There are Error Messages

Many thermostats have helpful error messages built in these days. Pay attention if yours starts displaying things like “replace battery” or other alerts on the screen. The thermostat is essentially crying for help, so listen to it! Those warnings mean something is amiss; it can’t fix itself.

6. The Batteries Drain Quickly

If you have to replace the batteries in your thermostat way more often than seems normal, the thermostat may be defective. Rapid battery drain usually happens when the internal components are faulty and drawing too much power. Get a replacement before you go broke funding the battery company!

7. It's Really Old

If you’ve had the same trusty thermostat for over 5 years, it may simply be dying of old age. The older it is, the higher the likelihood of failure. If you’ve noticed other signs of issues, the age likely means it’s time to upgrade to a newer model. Why struggle to keep an ancient relic alive? Retire it and get a shiny new one!

Parting Words…

There you have it - 7 common signs your thermostat is on the fritz. Thermostats are made to last a long time, but they do eventually wear out. If you’ve noticed one or more of these issues, your best bet is to replace that puppy. A new programmable thermostat will pay for itself anyway with the energy savings. And you can avoid endless battles with the indoor temperatures in your home. Just be sure to give your old thermostat a nice send-off after so many years of loyal service keeping you comfy. Happy thermostat hunting!

About Kingwood AC Repair Pros

Kingwood AC Repair Pros has over 20 years of experience providing expert heating and cooling services to the local area. Their technicians are highly trained and can diagnose and fix any AC or furnace issue quickly and affordably. If your AC or furnace needs service or repair, call our professionals today at (281) 623-1871.


How do I test my thermostat?

The easiest way to test if your thermostat is working properly is to switch the temperature up and down and check if the heating/cooling system responds accordingly after several minutes. You can also test the thermostat by removing it from the wall and connecting a multimeter to the wiring terminals to check for continuity.

What happens when thermostat goes bad?

A faulty thermostat can cause a variety of problems, such as failure to turn on the heating and cooling system, fluctuating indoor temperatures, getting stuck at one temperature setting, and inefficient energy use, leading to higher utility bills. When a thermostat malfunctions, it cannot properly regulate home temperatures, leading to uncomfortable room conditions and possible system damage if left unaddressed.

Can a bad thermostat cause AC not to cool?

Yes, a malfunctioning thermostat can definitely cause an air conditioner to stop cooling effectively. If the thermostat is unable to accurately sense the room temperature or properly communicate with the cooling system, it will fail to turn on the AC when needed or cycle it at the right times, resulting in warm indoor air.

What is the lifespan of a thermostat?

The average lifespan of a thermostat is between 5 to 10 years. More basic models tend to last about 5 years before needing replacement, while more advanced smart thermostats can operate effectively for 7-10 years or longer. Factors like the quality of manufacturing, frequency of use, operating environment, and battery replacement routine also impact lifespan. With proper maintenance, like changing batteries and cleaning, a quality programmable thermostat should provide accurate temperature control for at least 5-7 years under normal use.

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