Boston has warmed up from the super-cold temperatures leading up to the weekend, but this week promises to send temperatures back into a downward spiral. Colder temperatures mean that your furnace works harder, but is that bad for the furnace?
Hard Working Furnace Doesn’t Mean Furnace Repair
Furnaces are designed to work, and they’re designed to work hard! In fact, they actually work better and run more efficiently when they work for long stretches. Short cycling – when the furnace turns on and off repeatedly for short periods of time – is actually harder on your furnace than running for long periods of time with a solid rest between heating cycles.
Furnaces aren’t designed to short-cycle, so when your furnace repeatedly turns on and off, you will want to consult a qualified heating professional. There are many things that can cause a furnace to short-cycle, but here are some common causes.
Your furnace and ductwork need to be sized properly for your home. Having an undersized furnace or ductwork can put a lot of stress on your furnace, increase operational costs, decrease efficiency and shorten the life of your furnace. Likewise, when your ductwork is oversized, the blower doesn’t generate enough velocity to push air adequately through your ductwork, causing poor heating and air circulation in your home. Your home may feel cold all the time, and cause your furnace to work harder to heat your living space. A qualified heating professional can properly size the ductwork for your home and ensure that your furnace and ductwork are up to the task.
A major air leak in the home can cause the living space to cool much more quickly than it should. Major air leaks – something along the lines of a broken window or open door – should be obvious! If you can find and seal major air leaks, this should prevent the furnace from short-cycling.
Thermostats monitor the temperature in the space around them, so drafts and air leaks around the thermostat can cause it to turn on the furnace prematurely. Check the area around the thermostat carefully for drafts. You can also remove the thermostat from the wall and check for drafts in the wall space around the thermostat that might interfere with proper operation. You can safely insulate around the thermostat, and should consider that if you find a hidden draft in your wall. Also, consider relocating the thermostat to avoid outside walls, heat sources (like fireplaces and kitchens), direct sunlight and other conditions that can “fool” the temperature sensors in the thermostat.
Your new high-efficiency furnace may not work so well with your old thermostat. If you have installed a new furnace recently, consider installing a new thermostat to go along with it. Thermostats are relatively inexpensive, so if a new thermostat isn’t part of the package, consider upgrading to a Wi-Fi thermostat, like The Nest.
If your furnace is short-cycling or doesn’t keep your home warm and comfortable, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating. We can inspect your furnace and ductwork, test your furnace for proper operation and correct any problems that can cause short-cycling. We can also help you take advantage of programs designed to lower the cost of replacing your old furnace with a high-efficiency furnace. Contact us at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We offer 24-hour emergency service and can repair most makes and models of residential heating equipment.