Golden Rule Blog

When Good Thermostats Go Bad: A Cautionary Tale

technician-testing-thermostatThis is a story about how an apparently simple part of an HVAC system, one often overlooked, can create all sorts of trouble for heating in a home. Although a cautionary story, it’s one you can easily avoid if you have a bit of knowledge—and access to a great HVAC expert in your area. You’ve already got the second part taken care of, since you only need to call our team for great professional heating in West Des Moines, IA. We’ll see that your heating story has a happy ending.

Now, About the Bad Thermostat

Yes, the part of the HVAC system we’re talking about is the thermostat. Thermostats are small objects that, no matter how advanced they are, have designs that allow them to blend in with the décor of a home and not draw attention to themselves. It’s easy to take the thermostat for granted as a standard control device, the same way people take the remote controls for their televisions or streaming devices for granted. Until they don’t work, of course.

But when a remote control stops working, you don’t end up with comfort issues in your home! When a thermostat goes bad during the deep winters here in Iowa, you can have a house that’s hard to live in and filled with very unhappy people.

There are different ways a thermostat can create trouble in a house when it stops working the way it should. The most drastic is when a thermostat loses its connection to the rest of the HVAC system. If you adjust the thermostat to provide heat or have it programmed to turn on when the temperature indoors drops to a particular level, and it doesn’t turn on at all, the thermostat may not be communicating with the heating system. It’s also possible that the heating system or blower fan will turn on and not turn off because of a lost thermostat connection. A broken thermostat isn’t the only explanation for this behavior from a heater, but you’ll want a professional to examine the HVAC system to discover the source. Never try to do any repairs on your own, because you won’t know if the thermostat or something else is the source.

A thermostat may also become miscalibrated, which is a smaller malfunction but one that can still have a significant effect on comfort and the performance of the HVAC system. If the thermostat senses that temperatures in your home are warmer than they are, it won’t activate the heater to turn on and work when you want it to, and it will also shut off the heater too early. This can lead to a damaging situation called short-cycling, where the heater turns on and off rapidly without completing a heating cycle, and this creates massive energy waste and too much strain on the system.

Finally, a thermostat can be mismatched to the HVAC system—something that often happens when a homeowner buys a thermostat on their own and attempts to install it. A mismatched thermostat can cause enormous damage to the HVAC system, so please only allow professionals to handle upgrading to a new, more advanced thermostat.

At Golden Rule Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, “We Obey the Rules to Live By!” Call us when you need heating services in the Des Moines and Grimes Iowa Metro Area.

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