One common call we receive as autumn months transition into frigid winter temperatures is that someone’s thermostat has gone completely blank and their furnace won’t turn on. When the temperatures are starting to fall, nobody wants to be left shivering in their own home. Does this mean you need a major repair? Has your furnace given up the ghost and you need a major replacement?
Not necessarily. In fact, the majority of the time a blank thermostat is a sign of something much smaller and more manageable. In fact, many times the problems are so small you can actually manage them yourself. Here are just a few examples of what a blank screen could mean and how to fix the problem.
This is perhaps the most common reason why your thermostat has gone blank: the batteries are dead. Did you know your thermostat needs battery power to run? Most people think that because the unit is attached to the wall that it draws power from the electrical lines running through their wall. In some cases they’re correct but in others they may not. It all depends on whether or not your system has a “c-wire” or “common wire” that provides it with the extra power needed to utilized a number of the smart features that modern thermostats are equipped with.
In either case, the first thing you should do is pop open your thermostat and replace the battery inside (usually a single AA cell). While we can’t tell you how to open your exact thermostat model (there are too many to list here, and each opens up differently), a simple online search for your thermostat model’s owner’s manual will usually get you the answer you’re looking for. In many cases, replacing the battery beneath it will turn the screen right back on and you’ll have control over your furnace again.
Tripped Breaker or Blown Fuse
Your heating and cooling system is on an electrical circuit, which then leads back to either a circuit breaker or fuse box in your home. If your furnace and thermostat are shut off and your thermostat is not powered by batteries, then you may have blown the fuse or tripped the circuit breaker. Fortunately, this too is pretty easy to fix. Simply locate your breaker panel or fuse box (usually either outside your home or located in a closet somewhere inside) and look for the fuse or circuit that your furnace is on. If the fuse is blown, replace it. If the breaker has been tripped, switch it on again and you should have a working furnace.
However, if the fuse immediately blows again or the breaker trips within a few minutes of being reset, you probably have a much deeper underlying issue and you should call for help as soon as possible. Continuing to use your furnace in this way could lead to a major electrical problem or possibly even spark a fire.
Like any electronic device, over time thermostats can eventually wear out and stop working, requiring that they’re replaced. Generally, a thermostat can last you 10 to 20 years or even longer, but when the screen goes blank, your furnace shuts off, and the battery nor the fuse or circuit breaker are to blame, it’s possible that your thermostat itself may have finally just died.
We don’t recommend replacing your thermostat yourself, as it can be quite technical, and the problem that caused your thermostat to die may still be related to the wiring leading to and from your thermostat itself. However, replacing your thermostat will give you the opportunity to make a small but extremely effective investment in your home’s energy efficiency.If you’re having an issue with your thermostat, call the Central New Jersey HVAC team from Binsky Home at (732) 810-0144 and have one of our technicians come to your home and inspect your system!