Using a smart thermostat isn’t just smart for saving on heating costs. It can also let you know if there’s an issue with your furnace.
The Google Nest has a function called Furnace Heads Up, which will let you know if it senses a problem with your heating system. You’ll notice the warning on the thermostat, in the app and in your monthly Nest Home report.
One of the most common problems is: “Nest noticed that your furnace shuts down within 15 minutes of heating.” Here’s why this is happening and how you can correct it.
Your Furnace is Short Cycling
When you see the message “Nest noticed that your furnace shuts down within 15 minutes of heating,” it's saying your furnace is short cycling. Short cycling is when the furnace switches on for a brief period of time then turns off. This HVAC game of red light, green light stops your home from heating up and can drive up your energy bill. It can also increase wear and tear on your furnace. It may also be more susceptible to breaking down and may even need to be replaced more quickly.
Without Furnace Heads Up, you might not detect your furnace is turning on and off frequently, since its blower fan might keep running. This feature can detect power interruptions that occur during short cycling.
How Do I Keep My Furnace from Short Cycling?
There are a few easy ways you can keep your furnace from short cycling.
Change Your Air Filter Regularly
If your air filter is too dirty, it will limit airflow. Your furnace will then shut down prematurely to prevent overheating. We recommend replacing flat filters every month, and pleated filters every three months. It’s easy to stay on top of replacing your filter by setting up a Filter Reminder on your thermostat.
If you’ve changed your filter after getting a Furnace Heads Up alert, you can do a test to see if that repairs the problem.
- Press the ring to bring up the Quick View menu, where you’ll select "settings" and then "equipment."
- The thermostat will show the wires connected to it. Select "continue."
- You’ll see system components shown. Select "test."
- Choose "Furnace Heads Up" and follow the instructions. Your furnace will go through a 15-minute heating test and give you the results when it’s done.
Google says if the filter is clean or if your furnace didn’t pass the test, something else could be awry that requires professional assistance. If this happens, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 440-252-1375 for furnace repair.
Clean or Replace Your Furnace’s Flame Sensor
Having a dirty or malfunctioning flame sensor is another top reason why your furnace might short cycle. You can determine if there’s a problem by watching your furnace as it turns on. Here’s what to look for.
- Take off the door from your furnace so you can see the burners. If you have a viewport in the furnace door, you may not need to remove the door for this.
- Turn on the furnace by setting the thermostat to a warmer indoor temperature.
- When you switch on the heat, the fan will turn on first. You should notice it turn on.
- The ignitor will start to glow. The ignitor is either on the left or right of the burners, but it depends on the furnace model.
- Once the ignitor is hot enough, the gas will switch on and the burners will ignite.
- If the flame sensor can’t sense a flame, it’s usually because it’s dirty or defective. Your furnace will then turn off as a safety precaution. If your furnace is short cycling, you'll notice the flame and fan shutting off after a couple of seconds.
If you’re questioning how flame sensors could get dirty being bathed in fire constantly, a blend of moisture and chemicals in the air form a thin layer of carbon on the surface. Cleaning a dirty flame sensor will end the short cycling issue. This task is best left to an Expert. That's because an HVAC professional like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning will be able to clean it without breaking it or be able to tell you if you need a new one.
Check Your Furnace’s Exhaust Pipe Frequently
Your high-efficiency furnace vents combustion gases outside through a PVC pipe. This pipe can get obstructed by snow or bird nests, so you’ll want to ensure that it’s always clear. If the pipe gets plugged, it can cause your furnace to overheat. It could also cause carbon monoxide to flow back into your home, creating a potentially fatal situation.
However, modern furnaces have a pressure switch that generally will stop these situations from happening. Households with small children will often find their kids have jammed toy cars, sticks or nuts into the exhaust if it’s in an area that's accessible by little hands. Even this small amount is enough to trip the pressure switch. The irregular flow of air into and out of the system trips the pressure switch, which shuts off the burners. If this is the root of your problem, you will experience short cycling and a furnace error code indicating the pressure switch was triggered.
An Expert HVAC technician from Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can look up the codes for you and diagnose the problem. Unfortunately, Nest has not evolved to the point where it can read the error codes furnace manufacturers produce, so you will still need a pro to assist you.
Let the Experts Solve Your Short Cycling Furnace
If you get the message, “Nest noticed that your furnace shuts down within 15 minutes of heating,” you know what to do. At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, our Experts have the expertise to fix any furnace problem quickly and affordably. What’s even better is that we back our repairs with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for one year.* To book your appointment, contact us at 440-252-1375 or schedule online.
*Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.