What The 'Wait' Message On Your Thermostat Means

Thermostats are key instruments in keeping the air within your home cool during the summer months and warm during the winter. As the central source of control for your house's HVAC system, it synchronizes with the unit in order to detect underlying issues and ensure the furnace and air conditioning unit can function properly before turning on. But how do thermostats alert homeowners of potential damage or connection difficulties? Your thermostat might display a cautionary message when it identifies a problem that would prevent the HVAC system from operating safely. A "wait" message on a thermostat is usually indicative of a pressure imbalance within the connected HVAC system's compressor, but could also indicate a dead battery, specific issues with the unit, or other complications.

As an HVAC system ages, its functions tend to wear down over time. The thermostat can help identify and prevent widespread malfunctions that would cost homeowners a pretty penny to repair. Anything from an incorrectly set clock to a massive coolant leak may catch the attention of your thermostat. Luckily, most of these issues don't call for the help of a technician to be fixed, and may resolve on their own with just a little patience on the homeowner's part. Here is a thermostat's waiting message explained in greater depth, and the methods you can take to fix it.

What a wait message means

Typically, a "wait" message is a result of your thermostat trying to prevent your home's HVAC system from starting up before it's ready. This message may appear if you attempt to turn on your thermostat too quickly after shutting it off. When you try to change your HVAC system's settings too quickly, it may cause the air pressure inside the system's compressor to shift disproportionately, forcing your unit to reset before it's had time to stabilize. Using the HVAC system while this imbalance is present may lead to extensive damage to the system as a whole, eventually calling for professional repair or replacement. Your thermostat will likely display this waiting message until the pressure inside the compressor levels out and the unit can turn on and operate effectively.

However, this message could also hint at connection issues between your thermostat and HVAC unit. If the thermostat's wiring is faulty, or if outside forces prevent your indoor or outdoor AC unit from powering on, no amount of adjusting will prompt your air conditioning unit or furnace to operate. Other miscellaneous and easily repairable problems that could trigger a waiting message include minor glitches within the thermostat's firmware, or low or dead batteries that need replacing.

How to fix it

When it comes to restoring your thermostat's functionality following a "wait" message, the easiest solution is to follow its direction: wait. Give the machine a few minutes to allow the pressure in the HVAC system's compressor to rebalance. If the message is still visible after five minutes, there may be another complication with either your thermostat or your HVAC unit.

If you believe your HVAC unit is at fault, you'll likely have to call a professional to inspect your system. A longer "wait" message may indicate your HVAC unit suffers from a leak or is running low on refrigerant. These complications, along with malfunctioning fuses, fans, coils, or other components of your HVAC system, should be left to a knowledgeable technician to resolve.

If you think the problem lies within your thermostat, try power cycling or resetting it as a form of troubleshooting. Follow the existing troubleshooting instructions for your particular brand and model of thermostat for the best results. At the very least, don't attempt to override the thermostat's "wait" message by forcing the HVAC system to turn on manually. This could lead to you having to replace your compressor, which may cost up to $3,000.