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Heat pumps are known for their energy efficiency. But like any heating and cooling appliance, it can also lose its efficiency over time. Mindful use and maintenance are crucial so that the heat pump could function optimally. Cycling times are a good indicator of efficiency. A constantly cycling heat pump uses up more electricity than needed and should prompt the homeowner to take a closer look at it.

How often should a heat pump cycle?

On-and-off cycling is normal for heat pumps. Usually, heat pumps would need to cycle two to three times an hour to meet the temperature demand inside the household. The only time it would normally cycle more than that is when the temperature dips below freezing point. When that happens it could cycle through. But if the heat pump cycles more than that, then it means it is short cycling due to some internal issues.

When a heat pump short cycles, or cycles on and off for more than three times in an hour, it is indicative of an ongoing issue, or under-maintenance. And since cycling requires more power than normal operations, short cycling will cause increases in power consumption and consequently higher electricity bills.

How to deal with a short-cycling heat pump

The best way to deal with a short-cycling heat pump is to have it checked by a professional HVAC technician. Find out how a heat pump works during the summer here.The specialist can detect if there is an existing problem within its mechanism and perform tune-up and maintenance work needed to help the heat pump get back on the right track of operations.

What causes heat pumps to short cycle?

But what causes heat pumps to short cycle? There are several possible reasons and below are some of them:

Dirty filters

Clogged air filters are one of the top reasons why a heat pump would keep on cycling. The debris and dust build-up will hamper airflow throughout the heat pump restricting air circulation. Once this happens, the heat pump will turn on and off, overburdening the system and consuming more power than needed.

When it comes to clogged filters, the homeowner himself can do something about it. Just replace the filters as recommended in the owner’s manual and schedule routine professional tune-ups and short cycling is solved.

Thermostat problem

An issue with the thermostat can prompt short cycling or the frequent cycling of a heat pump. When the system fails to detect that the desired indoor temperature has already been reached, it will continue to cycle on and off. Likewise, if the thermostat is installed near a window or a vent, then most likely it is misreading the temperature and consequently failing to correctly signal the system to stop cycling. 

The best way to deal with this is to restart the thermostat and see if the short cycling stops. If the situation remains the same, then it is time to call in a licensed HVAC technician who can check the thermostat and the whole heat pump system for possible issues.

Incorrectly-sized unit

When the heat pump’s capacity is too big for the indoor environment that it is heating or cooling, its tendency is to short cycle. Homeowners should make sure that their heat pump is correctly configured for their home to avoid spending more on a unit that will just get overworked for being too big and consuming more electricity than it should.

To determine whether the heat pump is too big for the home, get in touch with a local HVAC professional.

Leaking refrigerant

The refrigerant is a crucial substance involved in the cooling and heating process within the heat pump’s system. Like air conditioners, heat pumps are a closed system, therefore they should never run out of refrigerant. However, this chemical could leak through due to damage in the refrigerant line or an important mechanism within the heat pump. Since its leakage or total absence drastically affects the operation of the heat pump, it can cause short cycling since the heat pump could not achieve the desired temperature indoors.

When a heat pump keeps on short cycling, it is the best time to call in the pros. You should know how often you need to service your air conditioning unit. Adequately maintained heat pumps perform better and are least likely to short cycle. Remember, short-cycling heat pumps do not just cause higher utility bills. Short cycling overworks the whole heat pump’s mechanism and consequently shortens its supposed lifespan. At Reliable Standard Heating, Air ,& Solar we make sure that home heat pumps are kept running in their best condition. We see to it that every possible issue is dealt with even before it affects the heat pump’s performance. Get in touch with us today. 

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