Furnaces | 5 Min.

6 Reasons Why Your Furnace Blower Keep Turning On and Off Repeatedly.

Written by Nikita

furnace blower

Have you ever noticed your furnace turning on and off more frequently than it should, failing to maintain the comfort level in your home? This phenomenon, known as furnace short cycling, is not just a nuisance; it can be a symptom of underlying issues that need immediate attention. Different from the standard heating cycles that typically last about 15 minutes, short cycling can last mere seconds or minutes and often doesn’t allow your home to reach the desired temperature. While a properly working furnace may cycle three to eight times per hour, anything beyond this range could signal a problem and potentially strain your system, leading to more significant issues down the line.

Understanding furnace short cycling is critical to ensuring your heating system operates efficiently and effectively. Excessive short cycling not only hampers your comfort but can also intensify wear and tear on your furnace, possibly culminating in costly repairs or premature replacements. In this article, we will delve into the common causes of erratic blower behavior, explore the critical role of the thermostat, identify airflow issues along with their solutions, and discern between when to call in a professional or when to apply a do-it-yourself fix. Moreover, you’ll learn about preventive measures and the importance of regular maintenance to keep your heating system functioning optimally. We aim to provide you with actionable insights and solutions, empowering you to address furnace short cycling confidently and effectively.

Understanding Furnace Operation

To fully grasp the intricacies of furnace short cycling, it’s vital to understand the basic operation of a central gas heating system, or furnace. Here’s a breakdown of how your furnace functions to keep you warm:

Understanding the key components of your furnace can also help diagnose short cycling issues:

Furnaces are not one-size-fits-all; they come in different types, including:

The size of your furnace is a critical factor in its operation. An undersized furnace will struggle to heat your home, while an oversized one can lead to unnecessary energy consumption and wear. The heat capacity of furnaces is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), where one BTU is the heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

During a heating cycle, gas is supplied to the furnace, ignited in the burner, and used to warm the air in the heat exchanger. This warm air is then distributed throughout the home, providing the comfort you rely on during cold days.

If you’re experiencing a furnace turning on and off at an unusual rate, it’s a sign that something may be amiss with one or more of these components or processes. Identifying the cause of furnace short cycling is the first step in finding a solution and ensuring your system operates efficiently and effectively.

Common Causes for Erratic Blower Behavior

Erratic blower behavior in your furnace can be a source of frustration and discomfort. Understanding the common causes of this issue is the first step towards a solution. Here’s what might be causing your furnace to act up:

  1. Airflow Complications:
    • Unclean Air Filters: A dirty air filter restricts airflow, causing the furnace to work harder and potentially overheat, leading to short cycling. Regularly checking and replacing your air filter can prevent this issue.
    • Blocked Air Vents: Closed or obstructed air vents reduce the flow of air through your system, which can trigger the furnace to turn off prematurely.
    • Dirty Blower Wheel: Accumulated dirt on the blower wheel can impede its function, disrupting the airflow and causing erratic behavior.
  2. Thermostat Troubles:
    • Faulty Wiring: Wiring issues could lead to incorrect signals being sent to your furnace, causing it to turn on and off unexpectedly.
    • Battery Problems: If your thermostat is battery-operated, low batteries might be the culprit behind inconsistent furnace cycles.
    • Improper Location: A thermostat placed near a heat source or in direct sunlight can misread the actual room temperature, leading to short cycling.
  3. Component Concerns:
    • Fire Sensor Issues: A dirty or rusted flame sensor may fail to detect the flame properly, causing the system to shut down for safety reasons.
    • Blower Motor Malfunctions: Without proper airflow over the heat exchangers, the furnace may overheat and shut off to prevent damage.
    • Flue Pipe Blockages: A damaged or blocked vent pipe can cause the furnace to overheat, triggering safety mechanisms that shut the system down.
  4. Oversized Furnace:
    • An oversized furnace heats your home quickly but also shuts off soon after, leading to frequent cycles and increased energy usage. This can also result in uneven heat distribution throughout your home.

To tackle these issues, consider the following solutions:

By addressing these common causes, you can help ensure your furnace runs smoothly, providing consistent warmth and comfort in your home.

The Role of the Thermostat

The thermostat’s role in preventing furnace short cycling cannot be overstated. As the command center of your HVAC system, it dictates when your heating or cooling system activates and deactivates, thus maintaining the desired temperature within your home. Here are some steps to ensure your thermostat functions correctly and avoids contributing to short cycling:

Thermostat problems, such as faulty wiring, an outdated interface, or incorrect placement, can lead to frequent on-and-off cycles of your furnace. To address these issues:

  1. Wiring Inspection: Check the thermostat’s wiring for any loose connections or signs of wear and tear. This can prevent miscommunication between the thermostat and your furnace.
  2. Thermostat Upgrade: Consider upgrading to a digital, programmable thermostat that offers more precise control over your heating and cooling schedules, potentially reducing your energy bills.
  3. Placement Review: Ensure your thermostat is placed in a location that accurately reflects the overall temperature of your home, away from any misleading heat sources.

To further prevent short cycling related to thermostat issues, you can:

By ensuring your thermostat is working correctly and set at the right temperature, you can prevent short cycling and maintain a consistent and comfortable climate in your home. Remember, unusual noises, inefficient heating, and frequent cycling can be early warning signs of furnace problems, including thermostat issues. If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to troubleshoot your furnace and check for potential causes, including examining the thermostat settings and ensuring there are no airflow blockages.

Airflow Issues and Solutions

Ensuring your furnace operates smoothly and avoids the common issue of furnace short cycling requires a proactive approach to airflow management. Here are some solutions to address airflow issues that can lead to your furnace turning on and off more frequently than it should:

By implementing these strategies, you can help prevent your furnace from short cycling, which not only improves comfort but also extends the life of your heating system. Remember, regular maintenance is key, and when in doubt, it’s always best to seek the expertise of a professional who can provide a thorough inspection and tailor solutions to your specific needs. If you’ve noticed your furnace short cycling, taking action sooner rather than later can save you from the inconvenience and cost of more significant repairs down the line.

Faulty Components and Professional Assessment

When it comes to the health of your furnace, addressing faulty components is crucial in preventing and resolving furnace short cycling. Here are some critical steps and considerations:

By recognizing the signs of faulty components and seeking timely professional assistance, you can maintain an efficient and reliable heating system. Moreover, scheduling regular furnace servicing with a qualified technician can help identify and rectify potential problems early on, avoiding the inconvenience of unexpected breakdowns and ensuring your comfort throughout the season. Remember, a well-maintained furnace is less likely to experience short cycling, providing you with peace of mind and consistent warmth.

Preventative Measures and Regular Maintenance

To mitigate the issue of furnace short cycling and ensure your heating system’s longevity and efficiency, consider these preventative measures and regular maintenance tips:

Remember, a proactive approach to furnace maintenance is the best way to avoid furnace short cycling and keep your home comfortably heated. Regular care and timely professional inspections can save you money and provide peace of mind.


Throughout this article, we’ve explored the various facets of furnace short cycling, highlighting its potential causes and the significant impact it can have on both your comfort and your heating system’s efficiency. From the critical role of thermostats to the importance of regular maintenance and professional assessments, we’ve underscored the importance of being vigilant and proactive in managing and preventing short cycling. By understanding the causes and implementing the suggested solutions, homeowners can ensure that their furnaces operate reliably and efficiently, providing uninterrupted warmth when it’s needed most.

As we conclude, it is essential to remember that the health of your furnace is paramount for maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient home. Taking the steps to regularly maintain and address issues with your heating system can lead to long-term savings and avoid the distress of unforeseen breakdowns. For continued support and expert guidance on maintaining the ideal home environment, do not hesitate to reach out to our team of professionals. With their expertise, your furnace’s short cycling issues can be a thing of the past, ensuring a cozy winters season after season.


Why does my furnace blower fan keep turning on and off?

Your furnace blower fan may repeatedly cycle due to a clogged air filter, a malfunctioning thermostat, inadequate airflow, or issues with the furnace's limit switch. Each of these issues can disrupt the blower's operation.

Why does my blower motor keep cutting out?

A blower motor can cut out because of electrical problems, overheating, or worn-out components. It may also be due to a malfunctioning capacitor or issues with the motor's bearings.

Why does my furnace blower motor work sometimes?

Intermittent blower motor operation can result from loose wiring, a faulty control board, or a damaged motor. Insufficient maintenance or worn components may also lead to sporadic functioning.

Can a thermostat cause short cycling?

Yes, a malfunctioning or improperly configured thermostat can cause short cycling. If the thermostat is not calibrated correctly, it may signal the furnace to turn on and off too frequently.

How do you know if the blower motor is bad in the furnace?

Signs of a bad blower motor include reduced airflow, unusual noises, or the motor not starting at all. If you suspect a faulty blower motor, consult an HVAC technician for a thorough inspection and potential replacement.

How do you fix HVAC short cycling?

Fixing HVAC short cycling may involve addressing issues like a clogged filter, thermostat calibration, or problems with the limit switch. It's advisable to consult a professional technician for accurate diagnosis and repair.

What to do if the furnace fan keeps running?

If your furnace fan continuously runs, it may be due to a thermostat issue, a malfunctioning limit switch, or problems with the fan control. Consult an HVAC technician to diagnose and resolve the problem.

How long should the furnace blower run?

The ideal duration for the furnace blower to run depends on various factors, including the system's design and your heating needs. On average, a blower should run for around 15-20 minutes per cycle to ensure efficient heating and proper air circulation.