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Why Is My Heater Running Erratically?


Does something seem off when you are heating your home? Does your heater seem to start up at an appropriate time when temperatures in your home get chilly, but then it runs only very briefly once it’s started up? Does it then start right back up after it’s cycled off?

This is called short cycling, and it’s one of those heating issues that could have any number of potential causes.

Worse yet, some causes are simple to fix—others have serious implications for the heater in question.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though.

First, let’s acknowledge the fact that no, your heater is not supposed to be running around the clock. This doesn’t mean, though, that your heater rapidly cycling is performing as it should. If it seems to you like your heater is not running in full, regular cycles, definitely reach out to a member of our team. If heating repair in Clayton, NCis necessary, then you want to schedule service promptly.

Why Does Short Cycling Happen?

Like we mentioned above, there are a lot of different reasons why a heater may short cycle. That is why having this particular problem, like any other heating issue, professionally diagnosed is so important. That being said, there are a few potential causes that you’ll want to rule out right away before you call for professional help.

First, check your air filter. If you are not keeping up with filter changes as diligently as you should be, then you are putting your heater at risk. The system may actually be overheating because its air filter is so filthy. If this is the case, then it will cycle down to prevent damages to itself. Just putting a fresh filter in place can resolve the problem if that’s the cause.

If that doesn’t seem to be the case, then you’re getting into the area where professional repairs are likely needed. It may be something as simple as a malfunctioning thermostat or a thermocouple that is not registering combustion temperatures properly. Of course,  that thermocouple may also be working properly, meaning that there are unsafe combustion temperatures. That’s just an example of how short cycling can surface problems dangerous not only to the integrity of your system, but to your own safety!

A Note on Short Cycling Heat Pumps

If you use a heat pump, then you definitely don’t want to put issues with short cycling on the backburner. Why? Because heat pumps use refrigerant to transfer heat into your home, and a short cycling heat pump could mean that you’ve got a refrigerant leak on your hands.

Refrigerant leaks can cause compressors to seize up over time, and you could literally destroy your heat pump if you don’t have leaks pinpointed and resolved promptly enough. If you’ve ruled out any obvious issues like a dirty air filter, call our heat professionals immediately. Even if the system isn’t in immediate danger, short cycling will drive up heating costs and will result in excessive wear and tear to the system regardless.

Schedule your heating services with Raleigh Heating & Air.

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