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Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Blog

Is Your Heater Running Properly?

dog-blanketWhat does this mean, you may be wondering? Is my heater starting up? Sure it is. Is it generating heat? Well, yes. That would be a pretty obvious problem, and I don’t really need a blog post to tell me that a heater should be doing so.

That’s not really what this blog is about, though.

In today’s post, we are going to talk about an issue that a lot of homeowners face, and that a lot of homeowners fail to recognize as a serious issue: short cycling. Because your heater will still technically be firing up and producing heat when it is short cycling, you may be tempted to ignore the issue, if you register it as such at all.


We are going to take a look at some of the potential causes of short cycling, as well as some of the ways in which it works against you and your system. If necessary, we can handle your heating repairs in Des Moines, IA.

What “Short Cycling” Means

Your heater should not be running constantly. If it never seems to shut down, then you have a problem on your hands. It is not short cycling, however. Short cycling is when, as you’ve probably guessed, your system runs in short bursts. Your heater is meant to run in full, even heating cycles, so running in short bursts suggests that there is a problem—and it is going to cause a number of different problems itself!

What Short Cycling Means for Your System

Just because your heater is running does not mean that it is running properly. Short cycling is a prime example of this. Not only is your system running abnormally, but it is also causing operational issues that you may not even be aware of—yet.

  1. Increased heating costs are common when your heater is short cycling. This is due to the fact that it actually takes more energy to get that system up and running than it does to keep that system running properly.
  2. Decreased comfort levels are also likely to strike. This leaves you paying more for a lesser heating performance! Even cycles mean even and comfortable temperatures, and that is not possible with a short cycling heater.
  3. More frequent repair needs are likely as well, meaning even higher costs to you. This is due to the fact that a short cycling heater is having a lot of added and unnecessary strain put upon it.

But What’s the Underlying Cause?

As is the case with so many heating problems, there are a few potential causes of short cycling. You may simply need to swap out a very dirty air filter that is creating enough airflow resistance to cause overheating. However, you may also have a failing component (thermostat or thermocouple, likely) or a wiring issue. These will require professional repairs.

If you use a heat pump, you could even have a refrigerant leak! That can cause irrevocable compressor damage, so contact us to rule it out or resolve the problem ASAP!

Schedule your heating services with Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.

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