The Impact Of Short Cycling On HVAC Longevity

by iupilon

Be it your comfy nest, bustling workplace, or the big mall down the street, an unassuming HVAC system is constantly humming in the background, making sure you’re in your ‘Goldilocks’ zone—not too cold, not too hot, but just right.

HVAC systems thrive behind the scenes in buildings of all shapes and sizes. They masterfully maintain indoor microclimates—temperature, humidity, air quality—to create comfortable surroundings for people to live, work, and play.

Short Cycling And Your HVAC System

Every HVAC unit is a team player, made up of several components that work in perfect harmony to deliver just the right indoor climate—cool when it’s scorching hot outside, warm when the winter chill sets in, and everything in between. These components operate within a certain timeframe, which we like to call a single cycle. An HVAC system is said to have successfully completed a single cycle when it reaches the desired temperature within its preset timeframe.

Short cycling happens when an HVAC system’s cycle switches on or off way too often, preventing it from completing a single programmed cycle. And it’s every bit as annoying as it sounds.

Picture this—you’re trying to beat that relentless summer heat, your HVAC kicks in, doing its best to keep things cool… and then, bam! It suddenly quits like it’s on a break. And just when you least expect it, the system roars back to life, only to give up the fight once more moments later. This is the maddening world of short cycling, where relaxation seems like a distant dream.

How Does Short Cycling Impact Your HVAC System’s Lifespan

Short cycling is detrimental to your HVAC unit—it’s essentially pushing the system to run a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. Generally, short cycling will drastically shorten the lifespan of your HVAC unit if it’s left unchecked and unresolved.

Specifically, short cycling affects your HVAC’s performance in the following ways:

  • Lower HVAC efficiency: Your HVAC system isn’t able to complete a full heating cycle or cooling cycle if there’s short cycling. Short cycling, according to experts, reduces the HVAC unit’s overall efficiency by up to a third of its full efficiency.
  • Increased wear and tear: HVAC short cycling puts extra stress on your HVAC unit’s parts. This can cause the components to wear out prematurely, which can lead to breakdowns and repairs.
  • Damaged components: The continuous on-and-off action wrought by short cycling can ultimately lead to the compressor working overtime. The potential outcome? Overheating that can escalate into catastrophic failure.
  • Elevated operation and maintenance costs: Short cycling isn’t a small hiccup—it’s a bank breaker in disguise. It sends your operational costs through the roof, stressing the system and creating wear and tear that’s only going to ring up more bills.

Wondering what causes your HVAC to suffer from short cycling? Continue reading below to find out more.

What Are The Reasons Behind HVAC Short Cycling

Let’s tackle why your HVAC might be cutting in and out, wasting energy, and giving your system the workout it never needed.

  • Incorrect Sizing: Alright, so you went big on your HVAC system. A gargantuan HVAC system in a smaller space is a recipe for disaster. It’ll heat or cool your property so fast that your system will shut down just as quickly—that’s short cycling for you! This stop-and-go act strains the system, leading to unwanted wear and tear.
  • Incorrect Sizing: We all let housekeeping slip every once in a while. But neglect your air filter and boy, you’re in for a real nuisance. Neglected filters teeming with dirt and debris block airflow like nobody’s business. Your HVAC system will strain to keep up, spiraling into that dreaded short cycling. Show those filters some love and watch your system breathe with ease—and efficiency!
  • Thermostat Malfunctions: Your thermostat is the brains behind heating and cooling, but sometimes it gets confused. A misplaced or malfunctioning thermostat reads the room temperature wrong, sending your HVAC system on a short-cycling rollercoaster. A simple thermostat check can save the day!
  • Refrigerant Leaks: Leaks are bad news for any HVAC system, but refrigerant leaks pack a real punch. The compressor turns into a workhorse trying to pump refrigerant, buckles under the tension, and shuts down prematurely. Before you know it, short cycling creeps in and nibbles at your cooling system’s lifespan.

Being aware of these common culprits behind HVAC short cycling is half the battle. Catch them red-handed and ensure your HVAC’s golden years are efficient, long, and cool as they should be.

Tips To Avoid Short Cycling In Your HVAC System

To avoid HVAC short cycling, keep in mind the following:

  • Carry out regular HVAC tune-ups: Regularly checking your HVAC is key to avoiding short cycling and the problems that it brings. Work with an HVAC professional who can conduct regular system checkups on your behalf. They can detect any possible issues with your HVAC that lead to short cycling and deal with them in a timely manner.
  • Pick an HVAC unit that is appropriate for your home: If your HVAC system is too large or too small, it’s more likely to fall victim to short cycling. Have a qualified HVAC company evaluate your house and recommend the right HVAC size system for your and your family’s needs.
  • Regularly change the filters of your HVAC: It’s recommended that you change your filter every month or two or more often if you have pets or allergies. It’s usually easy to do all on your own, yet you can ask an HVAC professional to do it for you, too.


Have you ever sat down to solve a jigsaw puzzle, only to discover halfway through that you’re missing critical pieces? That’s what HVAC short cycling feels like. Your once efficient system now unexpectedly breaks off heating or cooling cycles.

Turn a blind eye to this issue, and you might just be escorting your HVAC system to an early grave. But fear not! With these valuable insights in your arsenal, conquering short cycling will no longer feel like an uphill battle.

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