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Why is My Home’s 2nd Story Hotter than the 1st Floor?

Why is My Home's 2nd Story Hotter than the 1st Floor?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.

Poor insulation

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.

Hot roof

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

Change filters

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.

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To Our Valued Customers - A Note on COVID-19

We understand our customers will continue to have HVAC issues that need to be taken care of right away. At this point, we are open during our normal business hours.

We are taking safety precautions seriously and doing everything possible to ensure the safety and health of our employees and customers.

Steps We are Taking to Reduce Your Risk & Ours:

  • We are closely monitoring daily updates and recommendations from the CDC.
  • We are sanitizing our service trucks and tools.
  • We continue to wear shoe covers when entering and working in your home.
  • Employees have also been instructed not to come to work if they experience fever or other flu-like symptoms.