Use The Troubleshooting Guide To Get Your Furnace Running Smoothly Again

Home comfort is a top priority for Billings homeowners like you. Your home is where you relax after a long day and make memories with your friends and family.

During the frigid Montana winters, your furnace works overtime to keep your home warm and toasty to escape the harsh weather outside your window.

It allows you to defrost after walking your dog or warm up after bringing in a carload of groceries. But many homeowners don’t think about their heating system until they notice something is off.

If your furnace turns on and off in quick succession or does not heat your home as it typically does, it could be experiencing something called short cycling.

So what can Billings homeowners do to troubleshoot their furnace problem?

Let’s take a closer look at short cycling, what could be causing it, and how you can get to the bottom of your issue.

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What Is Short Cycling?

Short cycling is a common issue that many homeowners face with their furnaces. It occurs when your furnace briefly turns on and then quickly shuts off without running a complete cycle.

This frequent starting and stopping will ultimately cause damage to your heating system because of the excess wear and tear it puts on the components of your home’s furnace. It will also prevent your indoor temperature from reaching the desired levels. This can result in frozen pipes, outrageous heating bills, and general discomfort for your family.

If you need help determining whether or not your furnace is malfunctioning, keep reading to find out the telltale signs that you may need to secure HVAC services before you are left in the cold.

How To Tell If Your Furnace Is Malfunctioning

Sometimes, it’s evident to homeowners that their heating system isn’t working correctly. Other times, it may go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Here are some things to look out for that indicate that your heating system may have underlying issues and require a service call.

  • It turns on and off in quick succession: The average furnace cycle is ten to fifteen minutes of run time. Your furnace may need to kick on 2-3 times per hour to maintain your desired temperature, especially on cold winter evenings. If you notice a change in cycle times, you may have furnace issues on your hands.
  • You can’t feel hot air flow from the heat grates: If you hold your hand over an air vent and feel cool air or no warm air while the unit is running, you will need an HVAC technician to evaluate your heating system.
  • Your house isn’t the desired temperature: If your furnace is running, but your home isn’t climbing to the thermostat settings, you should take the time to investigate the issue. It could be an easy fix that, if left unattended, could balloon into a bigger one.
  • You feel extreme temperature swings in your home: With a malfunctioning furnace, you may be bundling up one minute and overheating the next. This indicates an issue with your HVAC system that you should rectify immediately.

If you notice any of these issues, contact R & T Services. Our furnace experts can quickly determine why your furnace is short cycling and solve the problem before it becomes a headache.

After making the service call appointment, you can do a few things to identify the root cause of the short cycling issue.

Here’s how to troubleshoot your short cycling issues so you can direct the technician to the leading cause and help expedite the repair process.

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How To Troubleshoot A Short-Cycling HVAC System

Homeowners in Billings depend on their heat source to keep their homes cozy, warm, and stress-free during the bitter Montana winters.

So a short cycling heating system can be stressful and cause your home’s temperature to drop to a dangerous level, especially during a blizzard. This could cause pipes to freeze and any existing warmth to escape through cracks and gaps in your home.

Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to identify the reasons why your furnace is short cycling and what you can do to solve your furnace issues.

1. Inspect Each Register And The Exhaust Vent

Obstructions to your home’s air vents can cause short cycling, so it’s essential to ensure that each air vent is clear. Walk around your home and inspect each register.

Remove any blockages, such as clothing piles, toys, or furniture, that are covering your heat grates. This will improve the airflow from your furnace and allow it to run correctly.

Next, go outside and check the exhaust vent for your HVAC system. Any obstructions can cause your furnace to be unable to heat your home, resulting in short cycling.

A blocked exhaust vent can also cause carbon monoxide in your home, so you must check it regularly as a safety precaution.

The exhaust vent can be blocked by snow or debris. You can remove any exterior debris and see if this solves your short cycling issue.

It can also be clogged by animal nests, such as beehives, built-in warmer months as animals prepare for winter. You may need to call animal control to remove the blockages, especially if you suspect a dangerous animal may be nesting in your vent pipe.

2. Check And Change The Furnace Filter

A dirty air filter is a common reason for a short cycling furnace. Busy homeowners often overlook this small but crucial component of their furnaces. This can lead to big problems in the long run.

If you need help determining where your filter furnace is located or what size you need, consult the manufacturer’s handbook.

Ideally, you should change the air filter every three months to prevent a build-up of hair, dust, and debris.

3. Investigate The Thermostat Placement

If your home temperature doesn’t match the set temperature on your thermostat, your thermostat is likely in the wrong spot in your home.

For instance, if your thermostat is near doors or windows, it won’t give accurate temperature readings due to drafts or inconsistencies caused by exterior doors that are used frequently.

Additionally, if your thermostat is in a hallway or far away from your home’s main living area, it will prevent your primary living space from reaching the desired temperature. This will negatively impact your home comfort level.

You can ask your furnace repair technician about relocating the thermostat closer to the center of your home to increase the energy efficiency of your furnace.

4. Clean Your Furnace’s Flame Sensor And Heat Exchanger

Another common reason for furnaced short cycling is dirty mechanisms, such as the flame sensor and heat exchanger.

If these components are dirty, it could impact your heating system’s functionality by preventing accurate sensor readings. This will cause your furnace to cycle on and off quickly as it attempts to function correctly.

Before cleaning any parts of your furnace, shut off power to the unit at the breaker as a safety measure. If you need help cleaning the flame sensor or heat exchanger, the R & T Services furnace techs can help.

5. Check For Signs Of Overheating

Short cycling can cause your furnace to run more than usual, leading to overheating. On the other hand, your furnace may start short cycling if it’s overheating. So the two issues go hand in hand.

Overheating can cause significant issues with your heating system, often leading to costly repairs. Here are some common signs that your furnace is overheating:

  • A burning odor
  • Restricted airflow
  • An unusual humming sound
  • Short cycling

If you suspect your furnace is overheating, shut off power at the breaker and contact an HVAC technician immediately. Ignoring an overheating problem can shorten the life span of your furnace and result in costly repairs or even the need to replace it.

6. Evaluate Your Furnace Size In Comparison To Your Home Size

If your furnace is quickly turning on and off, it may be too strong for the size of your home.

An oversized furnace may struggle to keep your home consistently warm, leading to short cycling and high heating costs.

An HVAC contractor can determine whether or not your furnace is the proper size for your home and offer an in-home estimate to install a new furnace that’s correctly sized for your home.

R & T Services Can Get Your Furnace Running Properly Again

A malfunctioning furnace can be stressful for any homeowner, especially during the cold Montana winters.

For over thirty years, R & T Services has been helping homeowners in Billings keep their homes warm and toasty. From fireplace installation to heating and cooling services, our company is dedicated to ensuring your home comfort level meets your high standards.

If you notice your furnace is short cycling during the winter months, you have no time to waste. Call today to schedule a service call with one of our furnace experts to get your home warm and comfortable.