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Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Blog

Heating FAQ: Why Does My Heater Start and Stop Frequently?

chilly-manIt does not matter what type of heater you use. You want to get the best performance that that heater has to offer. You deserve nothing less, if you ask us. Now, routine maintenance is definitely the best way in which to keep any instances of problems with your heater to a bare minimum. Even the best heaters that are well-maintained, however, are going to run into operational problems from time to time. Responding to such problems promptly will help to limit the risk of serious damage to your system and serious disruption to your comfort.

The last thing that you want to do is to ignore any signs of trouble that your heater in Washington, DC may display. Some problems with heaters will, admittedly, exhibit only subtle hints that trouble is brewing. Short cycling, though, is actually a pretty clear and obvious sign that something is wrong. If you notice that your home heating system is short cycling, call our number to have the situation assessed right away.

What Does Short Cycling Mean?

Your heater does not–or, at least, should not–run all the time. It runs in cycles, starting up when temperatures in your home dip too low and then cycling back down when the desired temperature is met once more. If your system is running nonstop,  then you have probably set a temperature that is too high at the thermostat, or your system may even be too small for your home. In the latter event, a replacement will be necessary if you want to heat your home successfully.

Short cycling refers to the scenario in which a heater is not running properly, but also not running nonstop. Instead, a short cycling heater will in fact run only briefly. It will start up, run for a bit, and then cycle back down. This has a few negative consequences for the system, your comfort, and your budget.

Why Short Cycling Is a Problem

Short cycling results in higher energy consumption, which, in turn, results in higher energy costs. After all, it costs more money to start a system up than it does to keep it running. When your system is starting, stopping, starting, stopping, and so on more frequently than it should, it is going to burn through more energy than it should.

Not only is this bad for your budget, it’s bad for your comfort. As if paying more for a lesser heating performance weren’t enough, short cycling also puts a lot of strain on the system. This increases the risk of repair needs.

What Causes Short Cycling?

The best case scenario when it comes to short cycling is a dirty air filter. If the air filter is too dirty, it can create so much airflow resistance that the system overheats and shuts itself down as an act of self-preservation. This is one fix that you can handle on your own.

However, you could also have problems with components like your run capacitor or thermocouple. Do you use a heat pump? Then the issue could even be a matter of a refrigerant leak. Don’t take risks with self-diagnoses.

Schedule your heating services with Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.

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