January 21, 2021
Furnace System in Festus, MO
Updated On: 10/18/2023

Cold weather rolls in when the winter months arrive, leading homeowners to rely on their furnaces. Setting a preferred temperature on the thermostat and allowing the heating system to run could lead to a desirable indoor climate. So, how often should your furnace cycle? While there’s no set standard, the average can be between 3-8 times an hour.

The question might not come with any “hard and fast” answers, as each home and its residents may have different requirements. A bigger home may need to run the furnace longer. That said, homeowners should run their furnaces with an eye on cutting waste, saving money, and preserving the HVAC system. However, mechanical or other problems might undermine the frequency in which the furnace runs.

How Often Should I Run My Furnace In Winter?

Reasons why your furnace keeps turning on and off:
  • Temperatures outside of home
  • Improper insulation
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Dirty flame sensor
  • Blower motor issues
  • System overheating
  • Incorrect furnace size
  • 15-20 years since last replacement

Running and Cycles

“Running” refers to how long the furnace operates to deliver the desired temperature. Another way to describe “running” is “cycling,” a term that refers to an on/off duration. So, if someone sets the temperature to 65 degrees, the furnace may run a cycle for a set amount of time to reach 65 degrees and then shut off. When the furnace shuts off, expect the temperature to drop. At that point, the furnace starts running another cycle to restore the temperature to the preferred setting.

Be aware that if you set the temperature to 55 degrees and the “normal” temperature inside the home is 58 degrees, don’t expect the furnace to run. Why would it? The climate is already above 55 degrees.

Do expect the furnace to run several times per hour to maintain a temperature above the normal interior one. How many times the system cycles might indicate whether the furnace is working correctly or may experience some troubles.

Are you concerned about issues with the furnace? Bone Heating & Cooling wishes to provide heating solutions for homes, including furnace repair and furnace maintenance. Our offices in Festus serve people living in and outside the city.

Routine Furnace Cycles and How Often the Heater Runs

Industry research shows some expected time frames for how long a furnace runs during a particular cycle. Running 10 to 15 minutes per cycle seems acceptable. So is running as long as 20 minutes. Even running every seven or eight minutes may not be a problem, as other factors could lead to more frequent cycling.

Outside temperature, for example, could contribute to how fast or slow the furnace cycles. Mild exterior temperatures may be in line with the preferred interior temperature. Bitter, freezing cold weather may lead to much longer cycles since the furnace has to deal with frigid temperatures.

Additional Factors to Consider

Home Energy Efficiency Issues

How well insulated is the home? When a house suffers from inadequate insulation, expect a furnace to experience cycling issues. If hot air escapes through a poorly sealed door or window, the furnace must generate more heat. That means the heater continues to run for a longer duration. After sealing those same doors and windows, the cycling problem could decrease.

Have you had an energy audit done on the home? Maybe requesting one might help with addressing any waste.

Short Cycling and Trouble Signs

Does the furnace cycle every two or three minutes? Such “short cycling” could indicate a problem with the furnace, and an inspection might be necessary. Several issues may cause short cycling. Even something as basic as replacing the filter or clearing out clogged air vents might do the job.

Other troubles, such as issues with the thermostat, flame sensor, blower motor, may require immediate attention from an HVAC professional. Homeowners shouldn’t dismiss short-cycling as a minor problem. Allowing an HVAC professional to inspect things and perform a necessary fix seems to be the better plan. Worn or damaged parts might only get worse unless someone fixes things.

Short cycling could have a disastrous impact on the furnace. Parts may end up worn or damaged due to repeated short cycling, and that result might lead to a decreased lifespan. Short cycling may even be a prelude to a breakdown, which could occur on the worst possible day. Who wants to see the furnace shut down on a below-freezing evening? Even if the people inside the home go to a safer location, what stops the pipes from freezing?

Bone Heating & Cooling can assist homeowners with heating concerns before, during, and after the winter seasons. We also provide indoor air quality and construction work. We employ NATE-certified technicians and belong to the Home Builders Association. Contact our office right away to discuss a service appointment.

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