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Sep 13, 2023 11:19:10 AM by Logan Donahue

What Does it Mean When my Furnace or Boiler is Short Cycling?

Your boiler is a critical component of your home's heating system, providing warmth and comfort during the cold winter months. However, if you've noticed your boiler frequently turning on and off rapidly, you might be experiencing a phenomenon known as "short cycling." In this blog, we'll discuss what short cycling is and the negative effects it can have on your heating system's efficiency, longevity, and your wallet.

What Is Short Cycling?

Short cycling occurs when your heater's heating cycle is cut short, causing it to turn on and off more frequently than necessary. Typically, a boiler or furnace operates by heating water to a set temperature, which is then circulated through your home's ductwork, radiators, or radiant floor heating system to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. When it short cycles, it heats the water, fires up the burner, and shuts down before the heated water can be effectively distributed.Types of Home Heating Systems

Negative Effects of Short Cycling

Reduced efficiency

One of the most significant negative effects of short cycling is reduced efficiency. When a furnace or boiler repeatedly turns on and off, it expends energy in short bursts, which can be up to 10 percent less efficient than a longer, more consistent heating cycle. This inefficiency leads to higher energy bills and wasted resources.

Increased wear and tear

Short cycling puts undue stress on the system's components, including the burner, pump, and controls. The frequent starting and stopping can lead to accelerated wear and tear, causing these parts to deteriorate faster and requiring more frequent maintenance or replacement.

Shortened lifespan

The increased stress and wear caused by short cycling can significantly reduce the overall lifespan of your furnace or boiler. A boiler that experiences frequent short cycling is likely to require costly repairs or replacement much sooner than a well-maintained, efficiently operating unit.

Uneven heating

Short cycling can lead to uneven heating in your home. Rooms may not reach their desired temperature, resulting in discomfort for you and your family. Additionally, this inconsistent heating can create hot and cold spots throughout your home.

Higher fuel consumption

Short cycling doesn't just waste energy -- it also consumes more fuel. Constantly firing up the burner to heat water that doesn't get used effectively leads to increased fuel consumption, driving up your heating costs.

Increased carbon footprint

Short cycling not only impacts your wallet but also has environmental implications. The excessive energy consumption and fuel usage contribute to a larger carbon footprint, harming the environment.'

How to Address Boiler Short Cycling

If you suspect your furnace or boiler is experiencing short cycling, it's crucial to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage and inefficiency. Here are some steps you can take:

Consult a professional

Contact a qualified HVAC technician to inspect your furnace or boiler and identify the underlying cause of short cycling.

Proper sizing

Ensure that your furnace or boiler is appropriately sized for your home's heating needs. An oversized or undersized boiler can contribute to short cycling.

Install outdoor reset controls

Outdoor reset controls can help modulate your furnace or boiler's output based on outdoor temperatures, reducing the likelihood of short cycling (if applicable). 

Upgrade to a high-efficiency boiler

Consider replacing your heating system with a high-efficiency model that incorporates advanced controls and features to minimize short cycling.


Short cycling is a significant issue that can negatively impact your heating system's efficiency, longevity, and your household budget. Addressing this problem promptly through professional maintenance and potentially upgrading to a more efficient boiler can improve your home's comfort and reduce energy waste, ultimately saving you money and reducing your environmental footprint.
Contact ECI Comfort

If you live in the Delaware Valley/Greater Philadelphia area and would like to find comfort within your home, visit our website or give us a call at 215 - 245 - 3200 to learn more.

This entry was posted in Heating, Heater Safety, Gas Heat, Furnace, Boilers, Gas Furnace, Oil Boiler, Gas Boiler

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