Here is a common scenario that happens in the modern home. You notice that the heater has not cycled on in quite some time. The air is getting chilly, so you go to the thermostat. You try turning it a few degrees warmer, but nothing happens. You call out to your spouse, or say to yourself, “I think the thermostat is busted!”
As heating technicians, our jobs would be a lot easier if the thermostat really was the source of most heating system breakdowns. While this is rarely the case, it is possible that your thermostat is at fault for your low heating or complete system shutdown. Read on to learn when this is the case, when you can solve the problem on your own, and why you may have to call in our expert technicians.
Thermostat Issues: User Error
Of course, there’s always the possibility—when we show up to repair a home heating system—that the thermostat is simply improperly set. We may find that the vacation settings have been enabled, so that the temperature is not as high as it should be, or that the thermostat has been accidentally switched to “cooling” mode.
Sometimes, people don’t realize that it takes a few minutes for a furnace to start up. This start delay is for your safety; it keeps the heater from running if there is no flame, which could send gas into your home. Wait a few minutes after adjusting the temperature before you start to believe the system or the thermostat is broken.
Thermostat Issues Requiring Repair or Replacement
The truth is that the thermostat is rarely at fault for a furnace’s problems, though it does happen. A couple of issues you can solve on your own:
- The thermostat needs new batteries.
- The circuit breaker needs resetting.
Otherwise, you’ll have to call in technicians for these problems.
- Wiring issues.
- A poorly positioned thermostat (one that is in direct heat, for example).
- Dust within the components.
Issues that Have Nothing to Do with the Thermostat
Think of how large your furnace is. Now think of the size of the thermostat. While the thermostat contains many wires, resistors, and other components, it is more likely that the problem is within your furnace. If setting the thermostat does nothing to start the heater, or if the temperature on the thermostat is never reached, you may have a broken component.
- Faulty safety switches shut off the chimney when they detect trouble with the system, and may just need replacement.
- A dirty furnace flame sensor may prevent the system from turning on because it cannot properly detect a flame.
- A broken fan motor might stop the heater from starting up at all, or a faulty motor can cause temperatures to drop.
- Faulty ignition switches keep the furnace from starting up. In older furnaces, you may just need to relight the pilot, but newer gas furnaces may need to have their electronic ignition systems replaced.
All of these issues and more are possible. It could even be that the furnace is not sized correctly and needs replacement. Most of the time, you’ll need technicians to help you solve the issue, but that’s a lot easier if you live in our service area.