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The Short Cycling Heat Pump—Why You Need It Fixed


The heat pump is your household’s best friend when it comes to year-round comfort. But you might notice your heat pump doing something strange. It’s turning on and off much faster than usual, sometimes five to eight times per hour. This is called short cycling, and it’s not something you want to keep happening.

What Is Short-Cycling?

Short cycling in a heat pump refers to a situation where the system turns on and off more frequently than necessary to maintain the desired temperature in a home. Instead of completing a full heating or cooling cycle, the heat pump starts and stops rapidly, leading to inefficient operation and heavier wear and tear on the system.

Why Is Short-Cycling a Problem?

The heat pump is still running. You’re getting cooled or heated air from it. So why is short cycling a problem? There are a few reasons:

  • Reduced Efficiency: Each startup of the heat pump consumes more energy than maintaining a steady operation. Frequent cycling reduces the overall efficiency of the system.
  • Increased Wear and Tear: The constant on-off cycles will lead to increased wear on the system components, potentially shortening the lifespan of the heat pump.
  • Inconsistent Temperature Control: Short-cycling can result in uneven temperature distribution within your home.
  • Sign of an Underlying Problem: Short-cycling rarely happens without a specific cause. Often, this cause is an even bigger problem than short-cycling.

Why Does Short-Cycling Happen?

There are many different causes of short cycling, which is one of the reasons you need professionals for repairs. Only trained experts can make an accurate diagnosis so they know what needs to be fixed. Here are several of the more common causes for a short-cycling heat pump:

  • Incorrect Sizing: If the heat pump is oversized for the heating or cooling demands of the space, it may reach the desired temperature quickly and shut off, only to turn on again shortly afterward.
  • Thermostat Issues: A malfunctioning or incorrectly programmed thermostat can lead to erratic temperature control, causing the heat pump to cycle on and off too frequently.
  • Refrigerant Issues: Insufficient or excessive refrigerant levels can affect the heat pump’s ability to transfer heat efficiently, leading to short cycling.
  • Airflow Problems: Issues with the airflow, such as clogged filters, blocked vents, or problems with the blower motor, can disrupt heat exchange and result in frequent cycling.
  • Faulty Components: Malfunctions in components like the compressor, sensors, or other critical parts can lead to short cycling.
  • System Age: Sometimes, short cycling indicates general wear and tear on the unit due to advanced age. If a short-cycling heat pump is more than 15 years old, it’s best to replace it.

Rely on the Professionals

Please don’t let short cycling remain as a lingering problem. As soon as you notice it’s happening, check on the thermostat to make sure it’s set correctly, change the heat pump’s air filter, and make sure all the vents in the house and the outdoor heat pump cabinet are unobstructed. If these steps don’t solve the problem, the next step is to call for experts in HVAC in Conway, SC. Trust our technicians to diagnose the problem and then get your heat pump back to work.

Rely on Martin Heat & Air to repair your heat pump. We’re more than HVAC services; we give you peace of mind. 

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