When Has Your Home Had Enough (Or Too Much) Hot Air or Cool Breezes?

Is setting HVAC cycles the solution to poor performance by an air conditioner or furnace?  Excessively short or long operating cycles are often a reliable warning sign that something’s wrong in an HVAC system. Cycling refers to the length of time an A/C or furnace runs after turning on before it automatically shuts off again. In general, a residential HVAC system should cycle on for about 10 to 20 minutes before turning off.

Too Short vs. Too Long

The rapid on/off function of a furnace or air conditioner that is short-cycling is often noticeable to occupants of a house. In addition, short cycles cause abrupt indoor temperature swings. The system runs inefficiently and costs rise. Excess wear and tear also impacts reliability and repair costs.

Long cycles, conversely, waste lots of energy, as the A/C compressor or the furnace burner runs too many minutes per hour. This then exacerbates component wear that may trigger malfunctions and costly repairs.

What Cycle Issues Mean

Short and long cycles can point to specific problems with your HVAC system, among them:

  • Dirty air filter. This restricts system airflow, which may cause components like the A/C compressor or the furnace to overheat, then shut off very rapidly.
  • Thermostat problems. A defective thermostat may not correctly sense indoor temperatures, signaling the A/C or furnace to shut off too quickly or run excessively extended cycles.
  • A/C refrigerant leaks. Low refrigerant levels can cause ice to form on coils, obstructing airflow and automatically shutting the system down before temperature settings have been achieved.
  • Oversize unit. An oversize furnace or A/C with excessive BTU capacity for the size of the house generates too much heating or cooling very rapidly. Indoor temperatures may spike or cool quickly, causing the unit to turn off again rapidly.
  • Undersize unit. A furnace or A/C that lacks sufficient BTU capacity for the house will run very extended cycles, straining to reach thermostat settings. In extreme cases, the unit will run nonstop.

For more answers to issues relating to setting HVAC cycles, talk to the experts at Paitson Bros., the Wabash Valley’s source for cooling and heating.

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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    Ethan Ethan Rayburn is a lifelong resident of Terre Haute and a 2005 graduate of Purdue University.

    An Eagle Scout, Ethan spent four years as a non-profit executive with the Boy Scouts of America before joining Paitson Bros. as a comfort advisor and later General Manager. In that role, Ethan has brought a renewed enthusiasm for customer care, integrity, value, and service to Paitson Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning.

    Ethan enjoys singing and was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. He also enjoys playing and coaching soccer, spending time with his family and two young boys, and volunteering his time and resources with his church, Terre Haute First Baptist Church, which he has attended from a very young age.
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