Temperature imbalances between floors, or even from one room to the next, are frustrating. Your HVAC system is designed to keep your entire home comfortable and when it doesn’t, several issues could be responsible. Beyond your air conditioner and furnace, it is important to look at your insulation and ductwork. Check out the troubleshooting tips below to help you identify the culprit.
Here are several possible reasons your home’s second floor is hotter than the first
Improperly sized HVAC
Thinking that a larger HVAC system will be more powerful or that a smaller one will be more economical is incorrect. The most efficient and effective system is one that is sized correctly for the space. An improperly sized system will be overworked and prone to malfunctions, such as not consistently heating and cooling all areas of your home. When a system is too large or too small, airflow is compromised. This can cause the evaporator coil to freeze in the cold months or cause the system to overheat and fail prematurely during the warm months.
Air duct problems
Improperly sized ductwork can also compromise the HVAC system’s airflow and result in uneven heating and cooling. Air ducts can also develop leaks and cracks, and prevent as much as 30% of the heated or cooled air from reaching the living areas of your home. Even small leaks from poor insulation can impact the airflow throughout the house. Large leaks can completely prevent airflow to distant rooms.
Blocked air vents
Household items or furniture blocking the air vents are a common cause of cooled air not reaching those areas.
Older homes in particular tend to have inadequate insulation, but this can be a problem that affects overall temperature in any home. Without proper insulation, heated or cooled air will be lost to the outdoors, causing you to run your system longer to compensate. This is costly in terms of both energy use and wear and tear on your equipment.
Unless your roof is somehow protected from the sun or deflects it, it will absorb the sun’s heat, causing the top story of your home to be hotter. While your air conditioner is trying to cool the second floor, heat travels through the attic and into that level of the home making it harder for the system to cool it.
Rising heat in multi-level homes
Heat naturally rises, so a typical two-story home can experience an 8–10 degree temperature difference between the upstairs and the downstairs.
Thermostats are most effective in the room they are installed
Most heating and cooling systems monitor the temperature around a single thermostat located on the main level and the rooms closest to it will be monitored most effectively. Rooms on upper levels and further away from the thermostat can be under-conditioned.
Rooms are far away from your heating and or cooling unit
Rooms closest to the HVAC system will get the most heating and cooling.
Ways to Fix the Problem
Replace air filters every 30 to 90 days as needed to ensure that airflow is being properly maintained throughout the system.
Find and patch leaky ductwork
Eliminate waste by preventing heated and cooled air from escaping through leaks and gaps.
Install better insulation
Add or upgrade insulation to prevent further air loss. Make sure the attic is properly insulated and ventilated.
Add a second HVAC system
If the temperature difference cannot be more easily resolved, a second system dedicated to the upper floor, with its own thermostat, can solve the problem
Add a zoning system
Zoning is a way to distribute control to different areas of the home so that they can be adjusted independent of one another.
At Indoor Air Quality, we’ve helped countless homeowners in Highlands Ranch and throughout the Denver metro area find solutions to their simple and complex HVAC system issues — including the very common problem caused by hot, rising air. Contact us to learn more.