Your thermostat isn’t something you probably give a lot of thought too, nor is a component related to your HVAC system something you might expect to read about on an electrical company’s blog. However, this is an extremely important part of your home comfort, more so than you may even realize.
Your thermostat is literally where you send instructions to your furnace or air conditioner and their blower fans. What homeowners don’t always realize is that even the smallest thermostat malfunction can create multiple issues for a furnace or air conditioner, leading to a drop in efficiency, a subsequent rise in electrical bills, and even potentially a broken down HVAC system.
Thermostat Problems Don’t Always Appear as They Seem
HVAC pros in our area will tell you that when you have a problem with your heater or air conditioner, you should give them a call. And that’s true! But what if that problem you think you’re having with your HVAC system is actually a problem with your thermostat, and your HVAC unit is just fine? This is actually a pretty common scenario. Thermostat problems are not always immediately obvious.
For instance, your heating or air conditioning system may be short-cycling (a problem we’ll elaborate on below), but doing so for any number of problems. It might be a malfunctioning electrical motor or a loss of refrigerant. It will take a pro to trace the symptoms to the actual cause—but in many cases it is due to a miscalibrated, or even a misplaced, thermostat.
What Happens to Home Comfort When a Thermostat Malfunctions?
- Short Cycling: We mentioned this above—short cycling is absolutely something that can occur due to a malfunctioning thermostat. Short cycling is the name of the process where your furnace or AC system shuts off before completing a full cycle, only to turn on again a short time later and repeat the whole process. If your thermostat’s temperature sensor it’s working right, it can start to shut down the HVAC systems heating or cooling cycle prematurely. This process puts a lot of strain on the compressor, raising electrical bills, and shortening the systems’ lifespan.
- Uneven Heating or Cooling: If your thermostat wasn’t properly installed by a professional electrician or it is somehow miscalibrated, it may mean that your heater or air conditioner won’t run long enough to distribute heat or cooling evenly around the home. As a result, you’ll begin noticing hot spots or cold spots in the house, depending on the season.
- The Blower Fan Won’t Start or Stop Running: When the blower fan of your air conditioner or heater runs constantly and never cycles down—or if it won’t start up at all—it can mean a problem with one or more of the wires connecting your thermostat to your HVAC systems.
- No Conditioned Air: Let’s say your heater or air conditioner fan is running, but the air coming from the vents doesn’t feel as it should. This might mean the thermostat has lost its connection to the compressor and can’t turn on.