Whether you’re trying to run your heating or air conditioning equipment, your system may be short cycling if it seems like you’re constantly hearing it turn on and off. The average heating and cooling cycle is anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Short cycling is when the system terminates the heating or cooling cycle prematurely, failing to make your home feel comfortable in an efficient amount of time.
Short cycling is more than just a mere inconvenience. Short cycling leads to increased heating and cooling expenses. It also places tremendous wear and tear on your equipment. Consider these six reasons why your system may be short cycling and what you can do about it.
1. Dirty Air Filter
One of the first places to start troubleshooting a short-cycling problem is your system’s air filter. This filter is critical so your system can function efficiently. It can also prevent internal damage by keeping out airborne contaminants. However, it’s the one part of your HVAC system that needs regular attention. When a filter is dirty, airflow is restricted, potentially tripping safety mechanisms that are designed to prevent damage.
If your furnace filter is visibly dirty, you should strongly consider a replacement. A typical HVAC filter needs replacing every 30 to 90 days, depending on the variety you’re using and your indoor air quality.
2. Refrigerant Leaks
If your air conditioner or heat pump is short cycling, you may have a refrigerant leak. These systems rely on a certain level of pressure to effectively absorb and transfer heat. There won’t be enough pressure in the system if there’s a leak. Low pressure may even trigger a system shutdown to prevent damage to the compressor. If you suspect your system has a refrigerant leak, call a professional technician to troubleshoot the source of the leak.
3. Faulty Components and Connections
Any number of components within your system may cause it to short cycle, including bad electrical connections. Some of the components that could be at fault include a broken blower motor, a malfunctioning AC or heat pump compressor, a low-pressure switch that isn’t engaging or a bad furnace induction fan. If you haven’t scheduled HVAC maintenance recently, it’s time to schedule an appointment. During this visit, a technician can test all of the major parts of your HVAC system, that can lead to short cycling. Necessary repairs are made during your appointment.
4. Faulty Thermostat
Thermostats have a finite service life of approximately 10 to 15 years. As they age, sensors can stop working accurately, requiring a replacement. Your thermostat may simply need a new battery. Make sure you use a high-quality single-use alkaline battery rather than a rechargeable version. If your thermostat is getting old, it might be time to replace it with a new model. There are smart models that can help improve your system’s efficiency by way of a programmed temperature schedule.
5. Blocked Vents
Blocked vents prevent sufficient air from flowing into and out of your equipment. That restricted airflow can cause heat buildup in the system when everything is running. This prevents heat absorption during AC operation. Both of these issues cause the system’s safety sensors to engage, creating a short-cycle scenario.
Give each vent in your home two inches of clearance around it. Make sure the vent dampers are open, even in rooms that you may not use frequently. Closing them inhibits proper airflow.
6. Improperly Sized Unit
If you recently had new equipment installed and have noticed short cycling, it’s possible you have an improperly sized unit. An oversized unit will power up and down throughout the day more times than necessary. This results in higher energy consumption, raising your energy bills. The best way to prevent this is to work with a knowledgeable technician that understands how to use a full HVAC load calculation to determine the precise size your home requires.
People around Festus have turned to Bone Heating & Cooling for their heating and cooling needs since 1978. Our NATE-certified technicians offer trusted heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair and installation combined with water heater and fireplace services. Call to schedule your heating or AC repair or a routine maintenance appointment with one of our trusted technicians.