Premier HVAC Company in Albany, OR

Is My Furnace Short Cycling, and Should I Be Concerned?

We’re all familiar with the sound of the furnace kicking on. There’s a click, a hum and, after a few seconds, the soft sound of warm air rushing through our vents. It’s a comforting sound if the weather outside is frightful and you’re starting to feel a little chilly. But, if it’s a sound you’re hearing too much throughout the day, it might actually be signaling a problem with your furnace.

A furnace that runs too frequently is guilty of “short cycling.” This is a term used to designate inefficient function—a furnace that wastes too much energy and puts itself through too much stress, all the while trying to keep a consistent temperature in your home.

Thankfully, short cycling is something that can be fixed with some basic furnace maintenance in Albany, OR. However, if you let it continue without taking the right steps, you might find yourself paying for furnace repairs way too often.

Is Your Furnace Short Cycling?

Generally—depending on unit size, the size of your home and the temperature you’ve set things at—your furnace should cycle about 3 times per hour. This ideally means your furnace can maintain a consistent temperature in your home for about 20 minutes before convective heat loss results in lower air temps.

Next time you’re sitting at home, count how many times you hear the furnace fire up throughout the span of an hour. If you count 3, 4 or even 5 or 6 times, you’re likely okay—so long as they’re spaced out evenly. If your furnace is kicking on every 5 to 6 minutes, however, it means your furnace is running 10 or more times per hour. This is where short cycling becomes a problem.

What Can You Do?

Furnaces that short cycle are usually units in need of furnace maintenance in Albany, OR. Start with the basics to see if it improves the run time of each cycle and cuts down on total cycles per hour:

  • Change the filter or make sure the filter is clean
  • Adjust your thermostat a degree or two lower
  • Reset your thermostat program
  • Make sure the thermostat is correct

These are all things you can do right now. If short cycling persists, however, it’s time to call for backup. An experienced HVAC contractor will go a level deeper to check for potential maintenance or repair items that may stop the frequent cycles:

  • Flame sensor cleaning
  • Heat exchanger repair/replacement
  • Vent or duct cleaning

Often, an HVAC expert will be able to tell why the short cycling is occurring and provide repairs that stop it—or at least lower the cycles into an acceptable range.

Furnace Too Big?

If your home is old or you have a dated furnace, the problem may actually be with its size. If your furnace is too big for your home, it might push warm air too fast into the home, where it can dissipate quickly. The furnace will kick on and off rapidly based on the thermostat reading. In this situation, it’s worth talking to an HVAC expert about your specific unit and what can be done, short of replacing it.

Short cycling will quickly impact your energy bills and chip away at the life and function of your furnace. If you hear the furnace firing up more frequently than it should be, consider basic furnace maintenance in Albany, OR, or call an HVAC professional right away.