Find What To Do If Your Furnace Keeps Shutting Off And Turning On

Montana winters are great for skiing, snowboarding, and snowball fights. And they’re also the perfect time to cozy up with a warm blanket and your family.

As a homeowner in Billings, Montana, you know just how vital your Billings home furnace is for your family, especially when the frigid winter blows in.

Your furnace keeps every room in your home toasty warm and prevents winter-related catastrophes like frozen pipes. It allows your family to make memories in your home in a cozy environment.

However, if you find your heating system suddenly turning on and off, you may have a problem with your hands. And the last thing homeowners want is a malfunctioning furnace, especially in the dead of winter.

Short cycling is often a common symptom of a more significant problem, so homeowners like you must call the heating and cooling professionals at R & T Services to ensure short cycling doesn’t become a more significant issue.

In a previous post, we discussed what to look for if your furnace runs and shuts off again, but today we will look at why your furnace may be short cycling and what you should do to get your furnace working properly again.

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Why Is My Furnace Cycling On And Off?

There’s nothing quite like a Billings, Montana, winter. Between the chilly temperatures and lots of snowfall, your furnace will undoubtedly be working overtime year after year.

A typical furnace will run about 3-8 heating cycles per hour, with the average heating cycle lasting about 15 minutes.

However, if you notice your furnace turning on for a short period, shutting off, and then kicking back on again, it may be experiencing short cycling.

The problem with short cycling is that it prevents your home from maintaining your desired temperature. This will cause your home to become cold, making it uncomfortable and potentially leading to more serious safety issues.

Let’s look at factors that contribute to the cause of short cycling and what you can do to troubleshoot your furnace issues.

1. Thermostat Issues

Your thermostat’s job is to measure the air temperature and tell your heating system to cycle on when the area dips below the desired temperature.

A faulty thermostat could be why your furnace can’t cycle usually. You can try changing the batteries and testing the thermostat’s functionality to see if this is the issue.

The location of your thermostat could also be a factor. You could place it in an area that doesn’t reflect the temperature in the rest of your home, like a drafty hallway or near a front door. So it will turn on and off frequently as these factors cause it to read the area as too cold.

It would help if you placed your thermostat in the center of your home, close to the living areas where you and your family spend the most time. Avoid placing your thermostat near a heating source, such as a fireplace, windows, or doors.

An HVAC technician can quickly and easily move the thermostat for you to ensure it’s in the proper location.

2. Improper Furnace Size For The Home

There’s a good chance that your furnace was already installed when you moved into your home, so you didn’t choose it. And HVAC installers use standard measuring guides to choose the suitable unit for each home.

However, your furnace may be too large for the size of your home. If you find it cycling on and off frequently, it may be too powerful for the size of your home.

An oversized furnace has many drawbacks for homeowners, including:

  • Frequent loud noises as the furnace cycles on
  • Temperature swings throughout your house
  • Unusually high energy bills
  • Additional wear and tear on your unit
  • Unbalanced indoor humidity

If you think your furnace is causing your short cycling problems, consult an HVAC expert to help arrive at the best solution.

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3. Airflow Restriction

A clogged, dirty filter or blocked vents will result in a short cycling furnace. This is a common problem and an easy, inexpensive fix that most homeowners can attempt before consulting an HVAC expert.

Change your dirty air filter, ensuring you do this at least once every three months. If you’re unsure which filter you’ll need for your furnace, consult your unit’s manufacturer’s instructions.

If a new filter doesn’t solve your problem, check for a blocked exhaust vent. Ensure the vent louvers are in the open position—clean any dust or debris buildup accumulated on your vents.

Check all vents to confirm there isn’t a blockage caused by furniture, piles of clothing, boxes, or other household items. This will ensure your unit gets enough air to convert into hot air as the furnace runs.

If your unit keeps short cycling, you should consult an HVAC expert who can inspect your unit and ductwork to identify any issues.

4. Broken Or Dirty Flame Sensor

The flame sensor is part of your furnace’s safety system that detects the pilot light that acts as your furnace flame. If no flame is detected, the furnace will shut down automatically.

If you suspect the issue lies with your furnace’s flame sensor, you can try a few things before calling a furnace repair company for help.

First, you can try to clean your flame sensor. All you’ll need is a screwdriver, a microfiber cloth, and some wire wool. Here’s how:

  1. Turn off the breaker to cut power for the furnace.
  2. Remove the furnace’s outer panel using your hands or a screwdriver.
  3. Locate the flame sensor. You can find it behind the burner or near the panel opening.
  4. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the flame sensor.
  5. Use a microfiber cloth to gently scrub the metal rod, taking care to remove any carbon buildup.
  6. When you see bare metal, use wire wool to scrub off the rest of the buildup gently.
  7. Wipe off the dust on the sensor and mount using the microfiber cloth.
  8. Reassemble the unit and turn the power back on to see if your efforts worked.

If your furnace is still short cycling, you’ll need to contact an HVAC expert to get to the bottom of it. Remember, a broken flame sensor is a safety concern, so don’t let it go unchecked.

5. Overheating

Montana winters bring nonstop frigid temperatures and frequent blizzards. This means your furnace blower is constantly going, pushing your HVAC system to its limits.

Believe it or not, frequent overheating is probably the most common cause of short cycling in older furnaces. If a furnace is overheating, it will automatically turn itself off to cool down. It’s common to notice a burning smell and a dull humming sound from the unit.

An overheated furnace is a safety hazard that could result in a carbon monoxide leak or house fire. While most modern furnaces have a safety feature to prevent overheating, homeowners must still act fast to protect their homes.

If you suspect overheating, cut the power to your furnace at the breaker box and call an HVAC professional to evaluate your system.

What Can I Expect From A Furnace Service Call?

If changing furnace filters, unblocking air vents, and cleaning the flame sensor doesn’t solve your short cycling problems, you need to schedule a service call with an HVAC technician.

Your troubleshooting efforts won’t be in vain. That’s because you’ll be able to tell the technician what you tried to solve the issue, which will help guide them to the underlying cause of your furnace’s short cycling.

Here’s what you can expect when you contact R & T Services for an expert HVAC service call:

  • Top-notch quality: We take pride in our knowledge and expertise, so we will only deliver the highest quality repairs.
  • Fast response times: We offer same-day service calls, so your short cycling problems may be solved quickly.
  • Expert staff and technicians: Our technicians are highly trained for furnace repair needs.
  • Timely Repairs: Your short cycling problems will be resolved promptly because we know how vital a functioning furnace is to your home.

A service call is your best investment when your furnace is not functioning correctly. That’s because minor issues with heating and cooling units can quickly balloon into expensive repairs or even the need to replace the entire HVAC system.

Whether the solution to your furnace’s issues is repair or even replacement, R & T Services will honestly assess your furnace’s performance and stop the temperature swings so your home is warm and cozy.

R & T Services Can Help Solve Your Heating And Cooling Issues

R & T Services has served the residents of Billings, Montana, and the surrounding areas for over thirty years. Because we grew up in this area, we know comfort’s importance during the long winter months.

Whether you’re having issues with your heating system or air conditioner, R & T Services can help. Our expert technicians will arrive on time and get right to work troubleshooting your short-cycling furnace,

Contact us today to schedule a service call to get your furnace up and running again so you and your family aren’t stuck in the cold.