Why Is It Always Warmer Upstairs Than Downstairs? Solutions to Temperature Imbalance

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Does it seem like no matter how hard you try it’s always warmer upstairs than downstairs? Especially in the summer, this temperature difference can become unbearable. Before you crank up the air conditioning, let’s take a look at some causes and solutions for temperature imbalance in your home.

Potential causes of temperature imbalance:

Hot Air Rises

Remember, hot air rises and cold air falls. Since heat naturally moves from downstairs to upstairs,  your A/C unit to has to work harder to push hot air out of the way on the second floor. Additionally, thermostats regulate the room they are in to the desired temperature. The further away from the thermostat, the less regulated the temperature. If your thermostat is located downstairs, for example, this could exacerbate the problem because it will read the cool downstairs temperature and turn off before the upstairs has reached the pre-set temperature.   

Room Location

Maybe your room has some features that put it at a disadvantage for airflow. Perhaps it has south or west facing windows and heats up in the afternoon sun. It could also be far away from your cooling system, making it more difficult for the air to reach. Since it’s on the second floor, it’s also in close proximity to the attic or roof. Roofs and attics are notoriously warm and may add an additional obstacle to cooling.

Improper Insulation

Especially in older homes, poor insulation can impact the efficiency of your HVAC system. If there is only a thin barrier between your home and the elements it will not optimally retain cold air in the summer or hot air in the winter. This causes your system to have to turn on more frequently.

Issues With Your HVAC

It’s also possible your unit itself is experiencing a malfunction. Perhaps there are leaks in the ductwork affecting airflow to remote rooms in the house. Or maybe your unit is outdated or the wrong size for your home. If this is the case, you may consider replacing your unit. A properly sized unit will be more efficient and allow you to enjoy cool air throughout your home.

Solutions to temperature imbalance:

Fix Leaks And Insulation

Locate the location of the leak and seal it. Leaks tend to occur at joints and fittings along the duct. It’s often difficult to locate and patch leaks effectively. An HVAC technician can help you locate the leak and make sure it is working properly. Additionally, adding proper insulation to your windows and attic will lessen the amount of heat that can enter your home and prevent seepage.

Change Filters

Dirty filters are notorious for restricting air flow throughout your home. If remote rooms are not receiving proper flow, you may want to check your A/C air filter for damage and debris. We recommend swapping it out at least every 90 days. If you have pets or your unit is running more frequently than usual, you may consider changing it sooner. As an added bonus, changing your filter will also increase your homes overall air quality.

Redirect Airflow

Another option is to locate and adjust your HVAC dampers to redirect airflow from downstairs to upstairs. Manual dampers are usually located in your attic or basement and have a lever that can be turned by hand or adjusted with a screwdriver. Dampers allow you to redirect heat downstairs in the winter and cool air upstairs in the summer, giving you a little more control over the heating and cooling of your home. If your dampers aren’t accessible, you can try partially closing some of the vents on the first floor.

Add A Zoning System

Zoning allows you to control air temperature from multiple locations in your home. Many homeowners choose two zones, one upstairs and one down, so they can more closely control air to the part of the house they are using at the moment. Contact your local HVAC specialist for a quote. If zoning isn’t an option, you may consider having your HVAC technician relocate your thermostat to a warmer spot in your house so that the system will continue to run until that area reaches your desired temperature.
Our goal at Lenz Heating & Cooling is to keep your Iowa home comfortable and efficient. We hope these tips help you stay cool this summer! As always, contact us to schedule a free estimate for all your HVAC repair and installation needs.