Troubleshooting a Heater that Stops & Starts Frequently

St Louis Homes

Sometimes a furnace can seem to still be working, yet there is a serious problem with it. One of those problems that can happen to a house right in the middle of a cold Missouri winter is the issue known as short cycling.

Short cycling is the situation of a furnace that turns on, but then off again rather quickly. And this repeats over and over again. It may be a problem that goes unnoticed for a while as, depending on how cold it is outside, the furnace may be providing some amount of heat.

If you have not been performing seasonal maintenance to your furnace or did not give it a test run before you needed it this winter, you may be discovering you have a serious furnace issue at the worst time of year.


Short cycling is a big problem that will require a furnace repair. Not finding out about this problem until the middle of winter means a cold home and likely a delay on repairs. Those cold first days of winter are when HVAC companies across St. Louis are getting swamped with furnace repair calls.


Indoor Comfort Team has a large team of qualified repair technicians, and we provide 24/7 emergency repair. If you discover you have a furnace problem like it short cycling, call on Indoor Comfort Team and we will try to get out there ASAP to get your heat back on.




What Does Short Cycling Mean?

ThermostatShort cycling is when a furnace turns on then turns off very quickly after, perhaps only a few minutes later. You will likely then hear it turn on again not long later, only to turn off again just as quickly.

A furnace that is short cycling is shutting off before warming your home to the desired temperature. That is why it will eventually come back on, but an issue in your HVAC system is forcing it to shut down.

A normal cycling furnace will typically turn on and off 5-8 times within an hour.


Why Does a Furnace Short Cycle?

The Furnace is Overheating
If your heater is becoming overly hot, it could be cycling off as a safety precaution. This is happening because of a built-in safety measure of your furnace to try to prevent dangerous overheating. While it is good that your system is utilizing safety procedures, it will only work for so long. Once you are aware that your furnace may be short cycling, you should quickly work to get the problem fixed.

Improper airflow is one likely reason why a furnace is overheating. And an air filter may be the cause of it. A dirty or clogged air filter can block airflow, causing a furnace to overheat. A homeowner should check their air filter and change it if it appears dark or dirty.

Homeowners can also check the vents around their home. Make sure none are blocked or shut. Too many closed vents can create airflow problems.

If addressing those potential issues with your filter or vents do not stop the short cycling problem, contact a heating professional right away. This could mean you have a more dangerous problem.

Whatever is causing the furnace to overheat needs to be addressed. A professional furnace repair technician can accurately diagnose and fix the problem. In the St. Louis area, call on Indoor Comfort Team for a quick furnace repair at (314) 230-9542.

Furnace Ductwork


The Thermostat is Not Working

Your thermostat could be causing the short cycling to occur. If your thermostat is not working properly, it may send wrong signal to your furnace telling it that the house is at the proper temperature which causes your system to shut off.

It is possible the thermostat was not correctly installed. Or it was put somewhere that gets warmer than the rest of the house, causing the thermostat to reach the desired temperature before the rest of the house does.

Contact Indoor Comfort Team and we will come out to check your furnace and thermostat. Even if we weren’t the company to have installed your heating system, our HVAC technicians are experienced to work on all HVAC systems and thermostats. Send us a message online for service or call us directly at (314) 230-9542.


A New Furnace Was Put in Wrong

Is your home new construction? Or did your short cycling problem start happening after a new furnace was installed? A furnace that is too large for your home’s heating needs or was installed improperly can cause problems, including short cycling.

Contact the company who installed it and see if they can verify that everything was installed properly. You may want to get a second opinion on the work and whether the right-sized furnace was installed. Contact Indoor Comfort Team for a second opinion on your home’s heating system.


Short Cycling Leads to More Problems

Furnace Short CyclingIgnoring a short cycling furnace can lead to more problems. Even if the cause is relatively small and easy to fix, letting it go unfixed can put your furnace at risk for bigger issues and breakdowns.

A furnace that is short cycling is working harder than it was designed, leading to such issues as:

  • Furnace completely breaks down
  • Parts on your furnace wear down and/or break
  • Home does not get sufficiently heated.
  • Higher energy bills – The more often your furnace needs to start up, the more you will have to pay on your energy bills.


Preventing a Furnace from Short Cycling

Regular maintenance can catch and fix many of the issues that can lead a furnace to short cycle. Making sure to change your air filter on a proper schedule for your home and system is one thing every homeowner can and should do.

Get professional heating system maintenance done seasonally, ideally right before fall each year. Indoor Comfort Team provides professional heating and cooling maintenance to the greater St. Louis area. We even provide a VIP Maintenance Club program for people to receive ongoing maintenance from our expert technicians as well as great discounts and benefits.


Contact us today!

Indoor Comfort Team has been a trusted name in the greater St. Louis area since 1979. Whether you live on the Missouri side of the river or in Illinois, our skilled and licensed HVAC technicians are ready to deliver the services you need.

We provide complete heating and cooling installation and repair as well as water heater and indoor air quality services.

Need a repair today? Call (314) 230-9542 or (618) 688-0707.

Whether you need repair, maintenance, or new installation of your furnace or air conditioner, contact us today to let us get our comfort specialists right to work on your home or business.

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