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Why Does My Furnace Keep Going Off and On?

Posted on: December 19, 2017

When your furnace keeps turning on and shutting off more than its standard three to six times in an hour, this is called short cycling, and it could be racking up your energy bill. Short cycling may not seem serious at first, but it is typically a sign that your furnace is too big, your thermostat is malfunctioning, or that a blocked or dirty air filter is causing your heat exchanger to overheat.

What can you do to perform furnace repair and solve the short-cycling problem? Read on to find out more about our short cycling solutions at BVSM in Beaverton County.

Does your furnace turn off and on at an unusually high rate? Contact BVSM to speak with our team about affordable heating and cooling services in Beaverton County, PA.

Understanding Why a Furnace Short-Cycles

The difference between a furnace that is operating correctly, and a furnace that is short cycling, comes down to a few small but important observations.

In a typical furnace cycle, a thermostat operates the furnace system to maintain the surrounding air at the desired room temperature. Once the desired temperature is reached, it will shut off momentarily to preserve energy, and turn on again as needed, typically only two or more times per hour.

When a furnace is turning on and off constantly, however, this is known as short cycling. Not only is short cycling an inefficient means of heating your home, but it can be very taxing on your heating system and increases your chances that you will need furnace repair services or a premature furnace replacement.

Is Your Furnace Short-Cycling Due to Restricted Air Flow?

If you haven’t replaced the air filter in your furnace in more than two months, it may be clogged with dirt. Or, if you are experiencing short-cycling even after replacing your furnace’s air filter, you could be using an air filter that is too restrictive to allow proper airflow.

Reducing your risks of short-cycling starts with using air filters that comply with your specific model and brand of furnace, and remembering to change your air filters regularly. Ask yourself:

  • Have I changed my furnace air filter within the past two months?
  • Does my air filter match my brand and model of furnace?
  • Are the air vent registers blocked by furniture, small objects, or debris?
  • Do the air conditioner coils in your HVAC unit have debris blocking airflow?

Regularly replacing dirty furnace air filters is an inexpensive way to support the optimal use of your furnace and keep it running smoothly. However, if your furnace continues to short-cycle even after replacing the filters, clearing away room in front of the air vent registers, and cleaning the air conditioning coils around your heating and cooling system, it may be a thermostat issue.

Is Your Thermostat Malfunctioning?

A common mistake that homeowners make when they notice that their heater or air conditioner isn’t working as well as it should be, is to assume that they need HVAC repair before checking that their thermostat is properly adjusted. To find out if your thermostat is causing your furnace to short-cycle, answer the following questions:

  • Is my thermostat turned on and displaying accurate settings?
  • Is my thermostat placed too close to another heat source, such as a heat register?
  • When was the last time I scheduled preventive maintenance for my HVAC system?

Thermostats are highly sensitive to changes in temperature in a room. When they are placed too closely to other heat sources (even sunlight!), they can shut off, believing the air is too warm. To ensure that your thermostat and HVAC system is working properly, routine inspections are highly recommended.

Other Reasons Your Furnace is Short-Cycling

If your furnace is still short-cycling after checking for a dirty air filter or a malfunctioning thermostat, the cause may be more difficult to determine. It could indicate one of the following furnace issues:

  • Your heating system is too big
  • The furnace has a corroded flame sensor
  • The chimney or air vents are clogged

Not all furnace repair issues can be spotted right away. To guarantee a thorough HVAC inspection, contact qualified heating and cooling contractors for professional advice and repair options.

BVSM Furnace Repair, Maintenance & Installation

If your furnace is shutting off and turning on very frequently, call our HVAC contractors at BVSM to inspect your furnace and solve your short cycling problem. Call us today to learn about all of our heating and cooling services in Monaca and Beaverton County, PA!

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