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The Problem With A Short-Cycling Heat Pump

Heat pumps work similarly to air conditioning systems, and they encounter many of the same types of malfunctions. A common issue is having a short-cycling heat pump. Short-cycling is both a problem on its own and a sign of a deeper problem with the heat pump. 

Sometimes you can find a simple solution to a short-cycling heat pump with troubleshooting steps. Other times, you’ll need to call our professionals for heat pump repair in Eugene, OR.

We’ll look closer at heat pump short-cycling: why it’s a problem and what might cause it.

Short-Cycling Heat Pump

When a heat pump or other refrigerant-based system like an air conditioner enters into a refrigerant cycle, it will stay in that cycle for 15 minutes or more before cycling down. When your heat pump starts a heating or cooling cycle, you can expect to hear it run for that period of time. 

Short-cycling is when a heat pump starts to rapidly cycle, turning on for only a short time (less than 10 minutes), cycling off, and then starting the cycle again a short time later. Normally, you can expect a heat pump to go through three cycles an hour when the home needs cooled or heated air. A short-cycling heat pump might go through eight cycles in an hour. Make sure you pay attention when this happens.

Why Short-Cycling Is a Problem

A heat pump uses the most amount of electricity when it starts up a cycle. It requires extra power to start-up the compressor. If a heat pump begins to turn on twice as often, it will put a tremendous drain on power and drive up electrical bills. The extra stress will wear down components faster, leading to more frequent repair needs and an early replacement. 

Short-cycling also prevents a heat pump from running in either heating or cooling mode long enough to create an even spread of comfort around a home.

Several Causes of Short-Cycling

Short-cycling on its own is bad enough, but the cause of the problem is sometimes worse. Here are a few of the more common heat pump troubles that can lead to short-cycling:

  • Clogged air filter: This is an easy one to correct for a homeowner. When you first notice short-cycling, check to see if the air filter is dirty and replace it with a new one.
  • Refrigerant loss: Leaking refrigerant puts the entire heat pump in jeopardy of burning out. You’ll need professionals to link the leaks, seal them, and recharge the lost refrigerant.
  • Oversized heat pump: If this is a new heat pump, the problem might be that whoever installed it failed to accurately size it. When a heat pump is too powerful for a space, it will continually cut short its cycles because it will heat or cool the house too fast.
  • Thermostat malfunction: A range of problems with the thermostat can result in it turning the heat pump on and off too rapidly.
  • Aging heat pump: Short-cycling in a heat pump that’s around or older than 15 years often indicates the unit is too worn-down to keep.

Reach out to us and we’ll diagnose your heat pump issue and find the best solution.

Contact Associated Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. today for heat pump repairs, maintenance, replacements, and more. 

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