What’s Recovery Mode on a Thermostat?

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

What’s Recovery Mode on a Thermostat

Recovery mode on a home thermostat sounds like there is or was some type of emergency in your house. Is there a major problem with the HVAC? Nearly all the time, recovery mode is a safe, predictable mode a programmable thermostat goes into when it’s getting ready to switch settings and program to a new temperature. It’s a very common setting and nothing to be alarmed about with your thermostat or HVAC system. What’s recovery mode on a thermostat? How can it help to know what your thermostat and system are doing?

What is Recovery Mode?

Sometimes, you might see “recovery” or a blinking light or a message you’ve never seen before on a thermostat and you think there’s a problem. Maybe the thermostat accidently cut off or had a power blip. This setting wasn’t around on older thermostats. With newer, especially programmable, thermostats recovery mode is a good sign your system is running as it should.

Recovery mode is a feature on numerous brand names of thermostats. Depending on the model or brand, it might say something like “recovery” or “smart recovery.” Or you may see a small light or symbol on the screen. An HVAC system in recovery mode is in the setting which recovers from being in an energy-saving setting. In recovery, the system is working toward a new temperature, one that’s likely quite a bit different than the outside air temperature. To do this efficiently, an HVAC system will turn on. It will run for a span prior to actually setting at a new temperature. It’s running so it won’t run so hard when the upcoming setting kicks in.

For example, if you set your AC to be off when you are at work during a summer day, the thermostat will enter recovery mode to start cooling shortly before you return house, when you’ve set the AC to run each afternoon or evening. Recovery mode simply allows you know your system has turned on and is going to make sure it reaches your wanted temperature on schedule.

Smart thermostats can find patterns in your heating or cooling usage.
Smart thermostats can find patterns in your heating or cooling usage.

The Thermostat Puts Itself in Recovery Mode

There are a few ways your thermostat will go into recovery mode. Most are reasons that show you the HVAC is running exactly as it’s designed to in your home.

First, a thermostat goes into recovery mode as it should prior to activating on a setting you’ve programmed. Just like with the summer day example, and programming your AC to be off, or set to a higher temperature, and then cool the home to what you like by the time you’re back from the day. You should see the HVAC in recovery mode about an hour before the “people get home” setting reaches the temperature you’ve set. This is completely regular and not a cause for concern.

Other reasons for recovery mode might be a little bit of a surprise. Recovery mode can turn on and it may signal another issue or problem. Generally, a system with different settings, that you didn’t set, may go into recovery mode and you don’t know why.

Smart thermostats can find patterns in your heating or cooling usage. Then, it will program itself based on the patterns. The thermostat is doing the same thing, but “smartly” programming and timing itself.

A power surge, outage or another system glitch can cause the system to reset. This might erase your settings, or put them into a default setting, and then you’ll see recovery mode at odd times or for settings that have nothing to do with the season or your normal usage.

One more explanation may be a bigger issue. Recovery mode could be telling you the HVAC system is malfunctioning. It may be the system is trying to get to the set temperature on the thermostat, it can’t reach it because the system is damaged, malfunctioning or failing. So, the thermostat is often or constantly in recovery mode.

Turning Off or Changing Recovery Mode

With a malfunctioning thermostat, or where you think recovery mode is signaling a larger problem, it’s probably best to get professional service. A technician can diagnose everything about a thermostat and a system. An HVAC pro can inspect everything. If the issue is with a programmable or smart thermostat, a pro can show you how to set it. You want the smart or new features to work and be efficient.

If you’re looking to not have recovery mode operate on your system, you’ll need to go to the thermostat’s settings. There is typically a settings or preferences button or menu or screen on a thermostat. You might check a manual, a manufacturer’s site or contact a technician for help with a system’s settings.

If you want recovery mode to work, but work as you want it to, you have to change the settings or schedule on the thermostat. As an example, you might have it programmed as 72 degrees at 8 p.m. when what you really mean is you want the AC to switch on and start moving toward 72 starting at 8 p.m. If this is true, set the temperature you like for an hour or two after the time you want the system to start running. When it needs recovery mode, it will start a little later and your system will be more efficient.

Is Something Else Wrong?

Most of the time, recovery mode is your HVAC system running correctly. There’s no reason for stress or alarm. It just means the HVAC is running as it should as the temperature changes. It is possible, though, that recovery mode can be a sign of a malfunction. If you repeatedly see recovery mode when you shouldn’t, it’s worth asking about.

First, see if the thermostat isn’t actually turning off or to the opposite mode (heat to cool or cool to heat) for part of the day. You think it’s programmed a certain way, but turning off or doing the opposite.

If your thermostat is changing to a suddenly high or low temperature level when it is not set to, then the AC itself may have a problem. If the outside unit’s fan is not rotating or you can’t hear the AC running, your system might be failed. It is also feasible for your heating and cooling system to run, but not warm or cool your home. This typically happens in an older, inefficient systems that have problems such as bad condenser coils or more poor maintenance.

At South End Heating and Air we specialize in HVAC and furnace repair, call us for a free consult and free estimate. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.

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