How Does Short Cycling Affect My Heater?

We don’t have to worry about subzero conditions and snowfall in our geographic region, but the hottest time of the year is definitely in the rear-view at this point. Daytime temperatures are falling from the 80’s into the 70’s and 60’s. Nighttime temperatures are cooler still. Long, hot summers aside, this is the time of year when we are reminded of how important our heaters in Phoenix, AZ really are.

If you notice any problems with your home heating system as we move into the cooler season, do not ignore them. Short cycling is one of the most obvious signs that trouble is brewing. Be vigilant, and let us know if your heater doesn’t seem to be running in full cycles.

What Is Short Cycling, What Causes It, and What Problems Does It Cause?

“Short cycling” is a term for the phenomenon in which your heating system starts up, runs briefly, and then shuts back down. Ideally, your heater will run longer heating cycles. If it is running only in short bursts, the condition of the system is put at risk. So too is the efficiency with which it operates. Short cycling can be caused by a few factors.

  • Oversized heating systems will short cycle as they bring the temperature in the house up too quickly. That may not sound like much of a problem, but the wear and tear and efficiency issues stemming from the short cycle make it hugely disadvantageous. Any HVAC system must be properly sized for the space in which it is installed.
  • Dirty air filters can restrict airflow, and that too can lead to short cycling. Heat can build up in the system, causing it to cycle off until it cools down. This is just one of the reasons why keeping clean air filters in your forced air heating system is so important.
  • Faulty components, such as thermocouples or even your thermostat, could also cause short cycling. The thermostat may simply register temperatures incorrectly, while a faulty thermocouple will shut down the system as a safety precaution (even though it’s not necessary). Repairing or replacing these components may be necessary to resolve the issue.

Starting up requires more energy than running consistently, so short cycling can result in higher energy costs than you should see. Plus, the wear and tear on the system makes breakdowns and operational issues more likely. Short cycling must be stopped in short order!

Schedule your heating services with Goettl Air Conditioning.