7 minutes read

Furnace Short Cycling

Stephen Jabro

Troubleshooting Steps for a Heater That Starts and Stops

missouri home in winter with icicles

In the middle of a cold Missouri winter, we all depend greatly on our heating systems. It can be a busy time for our team here at Jon Wayne Heating & Air working to handle quick furnace repairs in homes across southern Missouri.

During the coldest days, you may notice your furnace turning on frequently to keep up with meeting your temperature demands. But if you notice your furnace turning on again too many times over a short period, you may be dealing with a furnace that isn’t working properly.

Your heating system may be facing the problem of short cycling. In this helpful article on troubleshooting furnace problems, will explain what short cycling is and why this is not a problem you should delay getting your heating system repaired.

If you didn’t do fall maintenance on your furnace or didn’t give it a test before the cold weather reached southern Missouri, you may find you have got a problem on your hands at about the worst time. Short cycling is one of the biggest furnace problems a homeowner can face when we’re in the middle of a deep freeze.


What is Short Cycling?

Short cycling is when a heating system turns on like normal, but then turns off soon, perhaps after just a couple minutes. The furnace shuts off before it had a chance to heat your home to the desired temperature. You may hear the furnace kick back on later, but only to shut off again. If you notice this pattern of your furnace going on and off regularly, that is a problem with short cycling.

Furnace Short Cycling Springfield & Mt Vernon, MO

What is normal cycling for a furnace?

Typically, during cold weather, A properly working furnace should cycle on and off somewhere between 5 to 8 times each hour.

What Causes a Furnace to Short Cycle?

There are many reasons why a furnace may be turning on and off again repeatedly. Fortunately, a few of the causes have troubleshooting steps that a homeowner can handle on their own.


An Overheating Furnace

If the unit is getting too hot, it could be shutting itself down as a precaution. This short cycling is a safety measure that your furnace is taking. It is trying to prevent overheating from getting worse. This safety precaution will only work for so long, so you still need to get the root of the problem fixed. A common cause for an overheated furnace is improper airflow.

TROUBLESHOOTING STEP: Changing the air filter could solve the problem. A clogged filter will hinder airflow, potentially causing your furnace to overheat. You should also check the vents in your home and ensure none are blocked or are shut. Too many closed vents can cause an airflow problem.

PROBLEM NOT FIXED? If changing your air filter and opening vents does not fix the problem, contact a heating professional right away. You could be dealing with a more dangerous problem such as a cracked heat exchanger. A cracked heat exchanger could mean you have a carbon monoxide leak.


Thermostat Not Working

Thermostat set to heat to 68 degrees

One possibility is that the furnace is working fine, but your thermostat is causing the short cycling. If your thermostat is faulty, it could give wrong signals to the heating system. It might be indicating that the proper temperature has been reached which causes the furnace to shut off.

Another possible issue is that the thermostat was incorrectly installed in a place that gets warmer than the rest of the house. In such a case, the thermostat will reach the desired temperature before the rest of the house does.

TROUBLESHOOTING STEP: Contact Jon Wayne to have a professional furnace repair technician check out your thermostat and heating system to accurately diagnose and fix the problem. Even if we weren’t the company that installed your furnace, our technicians are trained to work on all types of heating systems. With two locations, one in Springfield and one in Mt Vernon, we have a large team to serve communities across southern Missouri.


A Furnace That is Too Big

Did your short cycling problem start soon after your furnace was installed? It could mean something wasn’t properly handled during the installation. You may have a furnace that is too large for the size of your home and heating needs.

THE FIX: Contact the company who handled your installation to see if everything was installed properly. If you want a second opinion on what system was installed in your home, contact us at Jon Wayne Heating & Air.



Furnace Short Cycling Leads to More Problems

Not getting a furnace that is short cycling fixed can lead to bigger problems.

A furnace that continues to short cycle is working harder and face more strain than it was meant to handle. The problems that this can cause include:

  • Parts in your furnace may wear down and break under this strain.
  • The short cycling will prevent your home from getting sufficiently heated.
  • The more often your furnace starts up, the more you will have to pay on your energy bills.

Even if the solution was as simple as changing the air filter, if you ignore handling this problem, other problems can develop with your furnace. Today’s quick and affordable problem can turn into a major and costly repair or replacement down the road.


Preventing Furnace Short Cycling Problems

Many furnace problems can be avoided with simple regular maintenance.

Change your air filter on a regular schedule.  How often you need to change your air filter isn’t the same for every person or every home. Whether you have pets, allergies or other health issues are some factors that impact how often you need to change the filter in your home.

You should also perform seasonal maintenance before cold weather strikes Missouri. Making sure your furnace is ready for the winter will prevent little and big furnace problems. Contact Jon Wayne Heating & Air for professional furnace tune-ups and repairs.

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