In the past, HVAC equipment was made with one simple objective in mind: heat or cool your home as fast as possible. Often, that meant installing powerful equipment. It was certainly effective—but at the cost of an extravagant energy bill.
Advances in HVAC technology made it possible to introduce a balance between efficiency and power. This was achieved with cycles. But even so, this balance of efficiency and power must be maintained in accordance with the size of your home. If there’s a problem in the furnace—or even a problem with the furnace’s installation—it can cause short cycling.
We’ll explain what short cycling is and what you can do about it.
So Does Short Cycling Mean?
It’s sort of what it sounds like: cycles that are shorter than usual.
In the case of your furnace, a cycle is like this: you set the thermostat, fuel is combusted into hot air, and that hot air is blown through the home for about 15 minutes. This constitutes one cycle. Then, more cycles will run until the home is sufficiently warm.
In the case of short cycling, the cycles will only last for a few minutes, if not less. This is a huge problem because it means:
- The home will never get sufficiently warm. Long, continuous cycles are necessary to change the temperature of the home.
- Excess wear and tear is placed on the furnace. Starting a cycle is a more intensive process than running a cycle continuously. This leads to components breaking down sooner.
- Energy-consumption becomes excessive, leading to higher heating bills. Since short cycling prevents the room from reaching the temperature set on the thermostat, the cycling will go on and on and on.
Why Does It Happen?
There are a few causes for short cycling in furnaces:
Dirty Air Filter: The best possible scenario is that your air filter is dirty and needs to be replaced. A clogged air filter will restrict airflow, causing the furnace to overheat and then shut down. Just replace the air filter and your short cycling problems should be over.
Bad Thermostat Placement: The location of your thermostat is important! If it’s placed too close to a heat register or somewhere with warm temperatures, like the kitchen, then the thermostat will get tricked into believing the room has reached the correct temperature. This can cause short cycling symptoms. Luckily, it can be corrected if deemed necessary by your Phoenix, AZ HVAC contractor.
Oversized Furnace: The worst-case scenario—and one that we hope you don’t have to experience—is that your furnace is oversized. This is bad news because there’s really nothing you can do except to have it replaced. If the HVAC technician who installed your furnace is not a reputable contractor, they might not be willing to compensate you for their mistake.
How to Avoid Short Cycling?
The best way to avoid short cycling is simply to have the system installed by a certified professional and to have regular maintenance performed on the system. This should cover all the bases and get you set up with a furnace that will run properly throughout its entire lifespan.