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Short-Cycling: A Problem You May Encounter With Your Furnace


Furnaces are reliable heating systems that can work for many years without running into problems as long as they receive regular professional maintenance. But any complex mechanical device can break, and it’s a good idea to know some of the common ways that your home’s furnace might malfunction. That way, you’ll catch on early that something is wrong and schedule prompt heating repair in Hillsboro, OH with our team. The sooner you detect trouble, the easier it’ll be to fix—and the less chance you’ll end up trapped with a fully broken furnace in the middle of winter.

In this post, we’ll discuss a frequent trouble furnaces may encounter: short-cycling.

What Short-Cycling Is

A furnace operates in heating cycles that will last around 15 minutes and sometimes longer. This is how long it takes for the furnace to turn on its components, warm up, send out warm air, raise the temperature in the living spaces to the desired setting on the thermostat, and then turn back off. During a standard cold winter day when you need steady indoor heat, you can expect the furnace to go through three cycles per hour. 

A furnace is short-cycling when the cycle time drops below 10 minutes and the furnace may end up cycling eight or even ten times per hour. This isn’t supposed to happen: the furnace has gotten stuck in its start-up cycle and isn’t completing a full cycle. If you notice the furnace seems to be constantly starting and stopping, then it’s short-cycling.

Why Short-Cycling Is Bad

Short-cycling is usually a symptom of another malfunction in the furnace, but it’s a serious problem all on its own. Because of short-cycling…

  • The furnace will undergo more mechanical strain than usual, which will lead to increased repair needs and a shorter service life.
  • The extra strain required to repeatedly start the furnace (the most energy-intensive part of the cycle) will increase heating costs, often drastically.
  • The furnace will not run for long enough to fully distribute heat throughout the house, leaving cold spots.

What Causes Short-Cycling

You don’t need to know the exact cause of your furnace short-cycling—it needs attention, no matter what! But you’ll want to know some of the possible sources for this problem.

  • Clogged filter: This is one problem you can correct on your own. If the air filter for the furnace is excessively dirty, replace it with a new one and see if this stops the short-cycling.
  • Oversized furnace: Is this a new furnace? Then the problem may be that it was incorrectly sized when put in so that it puts out too much heat for the house. The only way to correct this is to replace the furnace.
  • Faulty blower: The furnace is designed to shut down if it overheats, and this will happen if the blower isn’t working right. 
  • Thermostat issues: Incorrect signals from a malfunctioning thermostat or miscalibrated temperature readings can lead to the furnace shutting down early.
  • Aging furnace: Short-cycling often signals that an old furnace is coming to the end of its service life. 

Call for our technicians to help you when you’ve got a short-cycling furnace. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem and have it fixed, fast!

Shafer Heating & Cooling, LLC: You are just one call away from the comfort and savings you deserve!

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