AC Not Working Thermostat Says Wait [Solved]

If your ac is not working and the thermostat says wait, this is caused by a delay mode also known as short cycle protection, a feature on any air conditioning system that prevents short cycling thereby protecting your ac compressor from potential damage.

There is usually no problem when your thermostat says  ‘wait’ before it starts working. Most HVAC systems are designed to automatically protect the compressor and other ac parts from electrical damage. 

See also: AC blowing 70 degree air

Possible reasons  your AC is not working but says ‘wait’

Possible causeMain Fix
AC turned on too soonWait for 3-5 minutes
Thermostat has wrong clock settingsSet correct thermostat time
Low thermostat batteryReplace battery
Power Issues on outdoor/indoor unitEnsure condenser/air handler are connect
Firmware GlitchReset thermostat

The above problems in the table above highlight the possible reasons your ac is not working and keeps saying ‘wait’ or waiting for equipment. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and the possible solutions to each.

AC is turned on too Soon

If your AC was running and then you turned it off before attempting to turn on quickly, your equipment or thermostat will go into delay mode. In delay mode, the thermostat will  say wait or waiting for equipment and during this time your ac will not work until all the pressures stabilize in the condenser-evaporator system.

This is very normal and that’s how every air conditioning system or heat pump is designed to operate. 

However you can also experience a power outage and a quick power come back, this can also cause your thermostat to go into setup,


When your thermostat goes into delay mode, there is nothing you can do but wait for at least 5 minutes for it to resume operating. Attempting to turn it on and off repeatedly can prolong the delay  time.

Thermostat has wrong clock settings

This can be very surprising but it does happen. During a service call at one of the clients who was facing  an ac that was saying wait and was not working, waited for 10 minutes but ac wasn’t starting. 

But after I verified that delay mode was not an issue,  I took a closer look at the thermostat and noticed that the clock was incorrect. After correctly setting the clock, the problem was resolved and the AC started working again.

Read also: outside ac runnig but no air blowing inside

Low thermostat battery

Another problem is low thermostat batteries. When thermostat batteries do not have sufficient charge to power up a thermostat, they can cause all sorts of ac problems.  However, most modern thermostat will often not need batteries to work as they are connected to a c-wire( common wire)  that provides consistent power to the thermostat.

If your thermostat uses batteries, ensure to replace them every 10-12 months to avoid issues.

Power Issues on condenser/indoor unit

When either your indoor or outdoor ac unit doesn’t have a power connection, you may also see your ac say wait.  Check the outdoor unit and find out if it wont kick in when there is a call from the thermostat. If it doesn’t, and the fan does not spin, then check the circuit breakers for any tripped switches.

It is not uncommon for ac breakers to trip. This is because ac uses a lot of power to run. You might always want to watch out for  any humming noise coming from the condenser unit. This could be a sign that the fan motor is defective.

Usually, if the circuit breaker tripped, resetting them should turn on your ac and this should fix the problem.

Firmware Glitch

A firmware glitch on your thermostat could be the cause for the ac not working and saying ‘wait’    firmware just as software is prone to bugs and errors. When there is a firmware error on your thermostat can cause your thermostat to get started on ‘waiting’ and it can even freeze the display.

If you are using a honeywell thermostat here is how to reset it. But note that you might lose some settings.

  1. Press and hold Menu
  2. Press > until you see Reset, and then select it
  3. Press > until you see Factory Reset, and then select it
  4. Congratulations! You’ve reset your device! 

You can now configure your device for its new settings, either using the Resideo App, or on the thermostat screen itself.

See also: AC condenser unit blowing cold air outside


What to do if the Honeywell thermostat wait won’t go away?

If the “wait” message on your Honeywell thermostat is persistent and will not go away, you can try the following steps to resolve the issue:

Power Cycle the Thermostat: Turn off the thermostat and remove the batteries for about a minute. Then put the batteries back in and turn the thermostat back on.

Check Wiring: Make sure all the wires are securely connected to the thermostat and the HVAC system.

Can you  bypass the wait on the Honeywell thermostat?

No you can’t. And if there was a way, I wouldnt still recommend bypassing wait. This is because it prevents your equipment from short cycling and potential damage.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up this troubleshooting guide, we hope that you have fixed the  ‘ac wait’ error on your system. If no we recommend that you call local HVAC experts to help you fix this problem.

Another thing that is best to do is to  observe annual HVAC tune ups to reduce you have from facing unforeseen problems such as this on.

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