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hvacTo keep your home comfortable all year round, you likely rely on your HVAC system to do its job. But even if your system seems to be operating, you might not realize that it’s not actually doing an effective job at heating or cooling your home. When a home heating or cooling system starts to short cycle, you might not notice until your monthly bills come in the mail. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye and an ear out for a system that cycles too frequently. When your system stops and starts in short succession, that’s a sign that something’s wrong. But what does this problem actually mean?

What Short Cycling Might Indicate For Your Furnace
If your home heating system cycles frequently, it could point to a few different problems. Something as simple as a clogged air filter or a closed vent could lead to short cycling. These problems are easy to fix but have big consequences if they go unaddressed. They could cause your furnace to overheat, which might require furnace repairs or replacement.

Short cycling could also indicate an issue with your thermostat. If your thermostat is malfunctioning due to a wiring issue or a low battery, it won’t be able to communicate with your furnace properly. Even the location of your thermostat could be causing problems. A thermostat that’s too close to the heat source could be giving an incorrect temperature reading and could lead to short cycling.

Finally, the size of your furnace could also be the culprit. An oversized heater might seem like a good idea, but if it’s too large for your home, short cycling can occur. That oversized furnace will heat your home quickly and then shut off. Then, when the home cools down, it’ll turn on again. Furnace damage can occur if this continues, so you’ll want to make sure that your furnace is sized correctly for your home during installation.

No matter what you think might be causing your furnace to short cycle, it’s important to call your HVAC technician to get the problem solved right away. You can, of course, change your air filters, switch out your thermostat batteries, and make sure your vents are open and unobstructed first. But if those don’t fix the issue, contact a professional.

What Short Cycling Might Indicate For Your Air Conditioner
Just like with your heater, air conditioner short cycling isn’t a good sign. There are a few possible causes that are shared between AC and heating units that are short cycling. For one thing, clogged filters could be causing your AC to cycle too frequently. A thermostat problem can also lead to short cycling in an air conditioner, as could a unit that’s too big for a given room or home.

But there are other potential roots of the issue that apply only to air conditioners. Frozen evaporator coils, for instance, are unique to AC short cycling. Even in summer, ice can build up on the unit’s evaporator coils. When condensation freezes on top of the coils, your AC unit may start to shut down. Total shut down is often proceeded by short cycling, so you may want to check for ice and scrape it off if you notice any.

Refrigerant levels could also play a part in why your unit is short cycling. If your system doesn’t have enough refrigerant to cool the air, your unit might start short cycling. Adding more refrigerant is really the solution here, so you should call your HVAC professional to check your refrigerant levels.

While the average air conditioning unit lasts between 10 to 15 years, it’s possible that component damage has led to short cycling. When the unit’s compressor sustains damage, it could cause your system to turn on and off rapidly. This will usually require compressor replacement, but if it goes on long enough, you might have to replace the entire unit.

There are many possible reasons why your system could be short cycling throughout the year. It’s best to call your local HVAC company to get a definitive diagnosis and get started on any necessary repairs or replacement right away.