The cold has finally set in and you are trying to figure out the optimal settings for your home furnace and heating system, but it seems like your furnace is running an awful lot compared to previous winters. Should you be concerned? Check out today’s heating and cooling blog from JDL HVAC Services — your local HVAC experts — as we explore five reasons that your furnace is cycling off and on more often than it should be.
For the best furnace service and repairs in the Odenton area, call the team at JDL HVAC Services. We will give your system a checkup and provide maintenance service, so you can take comfort knowing that your family will be warm and safe this winter season.
Let’s define what we mean when we say that your furnace is running a lot. In most houses, a furnace should cycle two to three times per hour at most, running for around eight-15 minutes per cycle depending on a couple of things. If your furnace is running for much longer than this or is firing up and turning off quickly and frequently — this is known as short cycling — you may have one of the following problems that commonly cause these types of “symptoms.”
Dirty Air Filters
The most common cause of a short cycling furnace is an air filter that is long overdue for a change. A dirty furnace air filter will reduce the amount of air that is moving over the heat exchanger — the part of your furnace that actually heats the air. Without enough air to move or exchange that heat to, your furnace will overheat and shut itself off to prevent itself from becoming damaged. Once it cools a little bit, it will try again and run into the exact same problem. Remember to change your air filter regularly and schedule the furnace repair team at JDL HVAC Services to stop in for annual heater check-ups.
Dirty Flame Sensor
The flame sensor in your heater only has a single job — to verify that there is a flame present whenever the gas valve is open and running. If your heater is running and no flame is present, you will accumulate dangerous levels of natural gas inside your heater and eventually, your home. The flame sensor prevents this.
Over time, however, a flame sensor can become dirty with rust, carbon, dust, or other residues that reduce its ability to sense the presence of an active flame, causing your furnace to turn off when it shouldn’t be. If this is the problem, then you need the help of a professional furnace service or HVAC repair company like JDL HVAC Services.
Improperly Placed Thermostat
At JDL HVAC Services, we sometimes run into this situation when visiting homes here in the Odenton area — a poorly placed thermostat. Your thermostat should be situated on an interior wall away from direct sunlight to avoid inaccurate temperature readings.
A thermostat in a sunny, warm place can easily misread the temperature and stop your furnace from working as it should, while a thermostat placed on an exterior wall or somewhere near a heavy, cool draft can cause your heater to cycle more often than it should.
A Poorly Insulated House
Sometimes the problem isn’t with your heating and cooling system, but rather in the insulation of your home — or possibly the lack thereof. You may realize that your heater is working extra hard if you have gaps between doors and door frames, cracked caulking around windows, or thin, older-style windows. A poorly insulated attic can also allow a lot of heat to escape, causing your furnace to work overtime.
If this is what is wrong, weather stripping, window insulation tape, caulk, and potentially some blow-in insulation can solve the problem.
Remember, your furnace isn’t a superhero — it’s just a machine trying to do its job the best it can. During the coldest of cold snaps during the winter — which we know a thing or two about in Maryland — it is going to have to work extra hard to keep your home at your preferred temperature. When the daily highs only reach the single digits, you can count on your furnace working harder than usual, and likely, you have nothing to be alarmed about unless frequent cycling trends continue when the weather returns to more typical daily temperatures.
Expert Furnace Maintenance and Repair
If you have questions about your heater or need an expert furnace repair team to investigate over cycling or short cycling, call JDL HVAC Services for help at your home today — we provide service throughout Odenton, Laurel, Severna Park and the surrounding area. Our friendly, expert HVAC service technicians will be happy to help.