If you live in a two-story house, you may have noticed the second floor is often considerably warmer than the first. The difference in temperature is usually most noticeable during the hot summer months, when the weather outside reaches scorching levels.
If you are having trouble keeping your upstairs cool, you probably have one centrally located heating and cooling system. This single system is generally located in the basement or garage. While generally efficient when it comes to heating and cooling a single story structure, second-floor comfort was probably overlooked within the original design in an effort to keep the building cost affordable.
Do You Need a Second HVAC System?
If the temperature difference between the first and second floors is extreme, it could be because your HVAC or ductwork is improperly sized. If you don’t have the right system to do the job, keeping that upstairs comfortable is going to be nearly impossible.
If your HVAC doesn’t seem to cut it in the summer and everyone wants to move downstairs, you may need to add a second system. This is an expensive option, but it will give you better control over the temperature of each floor. It also may the only solution in some extreme cases.
If you think you may need a second HVAC system for your two-story house, have your current system inspected by a local heating and cooling professional for recommendations and a cost analysis.
Quick Solutions for a Hot Second Floor
Cutting into drywall to redesign duct work is pretty extreme and adding an HVAC to the second floor is expensive. Here are a few quick and easy tips you can try to help keep that second story cool.
Close the Curtains and Draw the Blinds
While bright sunshine adds a lot to the atmosphere of a room, it also has a major impact on the temperature. Since most thermostats are located on the bottom floor, the heat coming through upstairs windows can just collect there without triggering your thermostat to turn on the A/C.
Adding thick drapes or heat-reducing blinds to your upstairs windows, the temperature on the second floor should stay noticeable cooler.
Turn on the Fans
Stagnant air feels much warmer. Sometimes the heat upstairs can be alleviated with some simple air circulation. While warm air rises, and you can’t completely beat physics, moving air will make the space more comfortable.
A portable fan can make a warm upstairs room feel much cooler. Even better, a few ceiling fans will help keep the upstairs air moving and even out second story temperatures.
If your home isn’t equipped with ceiling fans, they are fairly affordable and generally easy to install.
Adjust Air Registers on the Ground Floor
Slightly reducing your air conditioner’s airflow to the first floor will effectively increase the amount of cool air that makes it to the second story. You can accomplish this by partially closing the floor registers on the bottom story of your home.
This action will also increase your system’s cycle time, especially if your thermostat is located on the first floor. A longer cycle time will ensure more cool air makes it to the top floor of your home.
Check Your Attic Insulation
If you’ve ever been up to your attic on a hot day, you know that space can feel like an oven. Even on the hottest days, the temperature in your attic space will far exceed the outside temperature. That is why your attic insulation has such a profound impact on how hot the top floor of your home becomes.
With that blanket of hot air sitting on top of your second-story living space, the area heats up quickly. However, with a good insulated barrier between these spaces, you can slow heat transfer between the areas.
Energy Star, a program managed by the Environmental Protection Agency certifying energy efficiency ratings, recommends different R-ratings for different climate areas. You can check the recommended insulation R rating for your area on the Energy Star website. If your attic insulation isn’t up to par, it may be time to consider an insulation upgrade.
Contact your local HVAC experts for more information on how to keep your two-story house cool all summer long.