Thermostat Won’t Turn On? Try These 7 Quick Fixes
Got a thermostat that won’t turn on? Either itself or perhaps your furnace or air conditioner?
A broken thermostat is basically the same as having a broken air conditioner or furnace – so this is a big deal! Thankfully, it can often be caused by several common issues.
In this article, I’ll go through all the possible reasons and fixes for thermostat issues.
Why Your Thermostat Won’t Turn On
In short, a thermostat may not turn on due to needing new batteries, a tripped circuit breaker, or a loose wiring connection.
While it is more common that a thermostat not turning on is simply a symptom of something going wrong with another component of your HVAC system, there are a few things that can stop your thermostat itself from working.
1. Dead or Dying Batteries
If the LED screen on your thermostat is blank this is a pretty good indication that you have dead batteries. However, even if the screen is lit, there still may be an issue with batteries.
In order for your thermostat to start your furnace, air conditioner, humidifier, blower motor, or any other component of your system the batteries need to have sufficient voltage. And that’s significantly more voltage than your LED screen will take.
Solution. The best thing to use is a battery tester if you have one. If Not, simply change out the batteries and see if that corrects your problem.
2. Tripped Breaker
Some thermostats only use batteries as a backup in order to save their programming in case of a power failure.
In this situation, if the breaker that your thermostat is on has tripped, then your thermostat is inoperable.
If you’ve recently plugged something new into an outlet that’s on the same breaker you may have overloaded the circuit.
Solution. If you’ve already checked to ensure the batteries are not the problem, then check your breaker. If one is tripped, simply reset it. However, it’s a good idea to find out what it is that caused the breaker to trip and then remove it from the circuit.
3. Faulty or Broken Thermostat
It may be that you just need to replace your thermostat.
Thermostats typically have a lifespan of around 10 years so take that into consideration if you’re having problems.
If you had any of the following issues leading up to the thermostat simply not working, a dead thermostat may be your issue.
- Your HVAC has been turning on and off
- Your thermostat readings have been incorrect
- Constant temperature shifts
- Your thermostat failed to respond when you changed settings
Solution. If you’ve determined that it’s time to buy a new thermostat, here are some newer features to consider:
- Smart or learning thermostat
- Auto changeover
- Automatic temperature changes
4. You Have the Wrong Thermostat
If you’ve recently replaced your thermostat, this could be your problem.
Thermostats need to be matched to your heating system so if you haven’t installed the correct type for your system the thermostat and your HVAC components cannot communicate with each other—or the system will fail completely.
There are two types of thermostats most commonly used in HVAC, a line voltage or low voltage thermostat.
- Line-voltage thermostats. These are typically used in heating systems such as radiators or baseboard heating. This type of thermostat operates on 240V.
- Low-voltage thermostats. Low-voltage thermostats operate between 24V and 50V and are typically used for central HVAC systems that use either electricity, gas, or oil. These can also be double or multistage systems.
Why Your HVAC Equipment Isn’t Turning Your Thermostat On
As mentioned, issues at the thermostat are most often caused by issues with one or more of your HVAC components. Your:
- Air conditioner
Let’s look at the specifics of why any one of these could impact your thermostat.
Remember, your thermostat is a communication device. It sends a message to your furnace, air conditioner, or blower, and if it doesn’t get the right response your thermostat will not turn on.
1. Clogged Air Filter
Lack of air filter maintenance is one of the most common causes of HVAC issues since lack of airflow can destroy your system.
Most furnaces have a safety feature that will stop them from turning on if there are serious airflow issues such as a clogged air filter.
Your blower motor needs to work harder to try and move air that is trapped at the filter, and this can eventually burn out your motor.
Solution. Follow the maintenance schedule recommended by your air filters manufacturer. However, depending on your household, you may have a little leeway.
|You may not need to change your filter as often if:||You have a small household of one or two people, and you don’t have any pets.|
|You will likely need to change your filter more often than is recommended if:||You have a larger family and multiple pets|
2. Pilot Light Issues
Pilot light issues can stop your thermostat from starting your furnace.
Several things can impact your pilot light including:
- A faulty or dirty thermocouple
- Dirty intake valve
If your thermocouple is malfunctioning it may not be able to detect the flame and if this happens the gas will shut offered in response.
If dirt has buildup in the intake valve there’s not enough oxygen to keep the pilot light burning strongly. And again,if the pilot isn’t lit the furnace will shut down as a safety measure.
Solution. Follow the video below to troubleshoot or replace your thermocouple.
3. Clogged Condensate Pan or Drain
If it’s the cooling season and your thermostat won’t turn on your air conditioner, your drain pan may be full. This is from moisture that collects and drains from the warm air your air conditioner pulls from your home.
Solution. Check to see that the float switch in the pan is working properly and look for a clog in the drain line.
Check out the following video for steps on cleaning your condensate line.
There are a few reasons why your issues may be directly related to your thermostat, but there’s also a good chance your problems lay with your HVAC equipment.
To recap, check the following:
|Issues directly related to your thermostat include:||Dead or dying batteries|
|Faulty or broken thermostat|
|The wrong type of thermostat|
|Issues related to your HVAC equipment:||Clogged air filters|
|Pilot light issues|
|Clogged condensate pan or drain|
Hopefully, this information has helped you detect or diagnose the problem with your thermostat.
While you’re here, why not check out our related posts below, perhaps we can help you with something else.
Thanks for reading.