Missoula Heating Contractors Explain Winter Problems: Why Your Heater Keeps Kicking On

If your heater keeps kicking on at least 3-6 times per hour, this is called “Short Cycling.”  For a variety of possible causes, heaters can start a cycle, not finish that cycle and then kick back on to try again very soon. Short cycling can cause damage to your heater beyond whatever problem is causing the short cycling.  

In some cases, your entire heater may need to be replaced if not remedied ASAP!  Finding the cause and fixing it immediately is the best course of action!  Certain issues can cause short cycling, no matter the type of heat you use.  Other causes can only really be a problem for certain types of heaters.  Let’s take a look at the different causes in different parts of the system.

Household problems in Missoula, Montana

Damaged or Clogged Chimney/flue

Damage can be caused by birds storing items on or around the flue, as well as the abrasive nature of exhaust coming through the flue.  When the flue is damaged or clogged, it can cause the heater to overheat and automatically shut off.  If you suspect this is the cause of your short cycling heater, it is important to call your trusted Missoula heating contractors to make sure your home is safe and comfortable again very soon!

Heater is Too Big for Your Home 

Whether you have a furnace, boiler, or another type of heater, if it is too big for your home, it could be your culprit.  An oversized heater can heat the space too quickly or unevenly, causing short cycling.  The only remedy is to replace it with a heater better suited to your space.

Faulty Insulation

If heat keeps leaving through a gap in the wall or a crooked window, your heater will short cycle as it tries to bring the indoor space back up to the desired temperature while the heat keeps escaping.  If this is your issue, you will need to find the holes and fix them to keep the heated air inside.   

Thermostat Problems in Missoula Heating Systems

Wiring to Thermostat

If your thermostat has been hanging around awhile, if it has been shaken up, for example, by a construction project, there might be a problem with the wiring.  Loose or broken wires can make electric components work improperly.  One result can be causing your heater to short cycle.

Battery in Thermostat

A weak power supply can cause electrical components to act very strangely.  You may start to panic, thinking that your entire heater is about to explode, but a simple battery refresh can make all the problems go away.  This can include short cycling.  As you are trying to find the cause of your short cycling heater, put a new battery in your thermostat and see if it does the trick. This quick and easy task could be just what your heating system needed!

Bad Location of Thermostat

If your thermostat is in direct sunlight or near the furnace, it could be telling your heating system to kick on when the rest of your house is not actually at the desired temperature.  This can cause short cycling.  If you think the location of your thermostat is the cause of your HVAC problems this Winter, call a Missoula heating contractor to help you determine the ideal location for your thermostat and get your home set up for efficient heating!

Furnace Problems in Missoula Homes

Dirty Air Filter

Many people think that an air filter in a furnace is to ensure the air in a home is clean.  This is incorrect.  The air filter in a furnace is actually there to ensure the air going into the furnace is clean.  A dirty air filter can stop the air from flowing into the furnace and can cause the furnace to overheat.  This can cause short cycling.  Ideally, air filters should be changed regularly to prevent problems. Once short cycling has started happening, you should schedule a service appointment with a Missoula heating contractor to ensure no further damage has occurred. 

Clogged or Blocked Intake Vents

Similar to a clogged air filter, this will prevent airflow into the furnace, which will cause overheating, and then short cycling.  Be sure to keep your air return vents clear of debris. 

Blower Motor

Furnaces work by creating hot air and then blowing it throughout your home.  If the blower motor is malfunctioning, the hot air is going to sit in the furnace, causing it to overheat and automatically kick off.  This “cycle” will not actually heat the home and the thermostat in your living room will then tell the furnace to turn back on, thus starting the loop of short cycles.  Go ahead and call your Missoula heating contractor to service your furnace if you suspect this is the issue. 

Furnace Overheating

When a furnace overheats, it can be caused by a number of problems which in turn can be the cause of short cycling. It can also cause damage to the heat exchanger, which, when damaged, can release carbon monoxide into your home.  THIS CAN BE DEADLY! If you have any suspicion that your furnace is overheating, call a Missoula heating contractor immediately and leave the premises until it is verified to be safe!

Boiler Problems in Missoula, Montana

Steam Traps Are Not Working

If this is your problem, pressure in various parts of the system will not be what it should be.  This can cause other problems, such as water hammering and further damage to the system.  If you think this is the cause of your short cycling, be sure to have the steam traps cleaned or replaced as soon as possible.

Piping Cannot Separate the Steam From the Water

This will cause the steam to condense and the burner will short cycle.  This is a problem for the professionals.  Give Garden City Plumbing and Heating a call to schedule a service before further damage occurs.

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