As the weather continues to grow colder, more and more Californians will start firing up their furnaces to try and stay warm when nights grow cool and frosty. When this is the case, you may notice that your furnace begins “short cycling,” or turning on and off quickly and often. This is a fairly common furnace problem, but it can also be extremely damaging as well as an indication of a bigger problem that needs to be repaired before it can cause even greater damage.
There are three primary reasons why your system could start short cycling:
If you’ve just recently purchased a new furnace, the first cause is the most probable one. Unfortunately, a furnace that’s too powerful for your space will, unfortunately, cost you quite a bit in the long run. Short-cycling is extremely energy-intensive, which means you’re going to spend a ton of extra money on your energy bills each month. A central furnace is designed to run for a certain amount of time in order to heat your home evenly, and a system that’s too big for your home will usually force itself to shut off before your entire home has been evenly heated. Not to mention the constant starting and stopping consume a ton of extra energy as well.
If you have an older system, one of the latter two is the likely cause. Systems that are old have a tendency to wear out and have parts fail, which could lead to overheating and damage as a result. The same can be said for thermostats, which over time lose their ability to accurately determine temperature, which could force them to turn on and off erratically. If you haven’t replaced your furnace in quite some time, you should consider doing so.
However, overheating can also be the result of restricted furnace airflow. Too much heat without airflow to keep the temperature within a constant, acceptable range can lead to elements getting too hot and your system shutting down. Check your air filter and replace it if necessary to see if that resolves your short-cycling issue.
A furnace that short cycles not only runs inefficiently but frequently faces other hazards as well. The constant starting and stopping are extremely hard on your blower motor, which causes it to wear out far quicker than it would otherwise. Replacing a broken down blower motor can be extremely expensive, so it’s best to avoid this issue as much as possible.
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