5 Signs Your Thermostat Is Broken (And How to Fix It)

man adjusting temperature on thermostat while wearing a winter jacket

Your thermostat is the control center for your entire HVAC system. When it has a malfunction, such as being unresponsive, then the heating and cooling systems in your home won’t work, which is far from ideal. It’s vital to get your thermostat fixed whenever you notice it’s experiencing issues. Read below for some signs your thermostat is broken, as well as information on how to fix it.

Signs Your Thermostat Is Broken

Photo Credit: mphillips007 / Canva Pro / License

There are a few common signs that there’s a problem with your thermostat, ranging from obvious cracks to temperature control issues. Keeping a sharp eye out for them is important for keeping your indoor air comfortable and clean. You also want to avoid further issues that can arise as a result of neglecting the damage.

1. Visible Damage

Possibly the most obvious sign that there’s something wrong is any damage that you can see on the thermostat itself. This includes cracks, warping, or odd displays on the screen. Damage like this can be caused by something hitting the thermostat accidentally, but screen issues can also be caused by a glitch or other problem with the electronics.

2. Thermostat is Unresponsive

Another obvious sign that you have a bad thermostat is that it’s unresponsive. If it shows a dark or blank screen even with new batteries and no issues with your home’s electrical system, there’s likely an issue with the thermostat itself. The same can be said if the screen has a display, but nothing changes when you try to push the buttons.

3. HVAC Is Malfunctioning

Another, less obvious, sign that there’s a problem with your thermostat is the HVAC not working like it should. This includes any HVAC problems, from short cycling to the heater/AC refusing to turn on or off. A faulty thermostat may be the cause, so if you’ve examined every other possibility and still came up short, check your thermostat.

4. Poor Temperature Control

If you’re having issues with your thermostat, you may find that the temperature in your home is different from the temperature reading it shows. Whether it’s the whole house, individual rooms, or just hot or cold spots, any issues with temperature control are a possible indicator of a faulty thermostat. You may also notice that your energy bills are higher than normal.

Keep in mind, however, that a broken thermostat is just one possible cause of temperature issues. You should carefully examine your entire HVAC system, thermostat included, to ensure that you solve the problem. Otherwise, you may find yourself making unnecessary repairs and still not fixing your temperature control issue.

5. Thermostat Settings Resetting

Lastly, a good sign that your thermostat is faulty is that the settings keep getting erased. Thermostats are supposed to keep the settings you choose long-term, so if you find that they’re repeatedly being reset to the default, you may have to repair or replace your thermostat. Even if it doesn’t seem like a big problem, it can be a symptom of a bigger issue, or possibly worsen over time, so don’t delay in fixing it.

How to Fix Your Thermostat

When you have a malfunctioning thermostat, you need to fix it ASAP. If it’s bad enough, you’ll likely have to hire an HVAC technician to fix it for you, but with any luck, you’ll be able to DIY the repairs. Here are a few simple things you can do at home to try and fix your thermostat:

  • Replace the thermostat’s batteries
  • Reset your home’s circuit breaker
  • Check the thermostat for damaged or loose wires
  • Clean the thermostat
  • Adjust your settings
  • Check the furnace switch

In addition, if you’re having trouble with your thermostat or HVAC system, you should also examine the latter. Thermostat issues may be only a symptom of a greater issue concerning your heater or air conditioner, such as overheating or a coolant leak. If you’ve done everything you can at home, don’t hesitate to call a professional. They’ll be able to help with troubleshooting the issue and tell you how to fix it.

FAQ About Thermostats

What is a smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat is one that automatically adjusts the temperature of your home for optimum comfort and energy efficiency. They’re typically connected to Wi-Fi and can be controlled with a smartphone.

How much does a new thermostat cost?

To install a new thermostat, you can expect to pay a typical range of $120 to $330. The average cost is approximately $210. However, your exact price will vary depending on a variety of factors, such as home size and the brand of thermostat you buy. 

What is the ideal temperature setting for a thermostat?

An optimum temperature for most households is between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This range has good energy efficiency and provides a balance between comfort and cost. The exact best temperature, however, is different for each household.

Find Thermostat Help

If you’re having issues with your thermostat, examine it carefully and see if you can resolve the problem yourself. If not, you’ll likely have to hire a professional to repair it for you.

If you need help with your thermostat, or if you need other HVAC service, contact your local HVAC professionals. They can service your thermostat, air conditioning, or heater to help keep your indoor air clean and comfortable.

Main Photo Credit: RossHelen / Canva Pro / License

Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about home care. He enjoys writing about home maintenance practices, as well as projects to turn an outdoor space into a backyard paradise.