Isn’t it true that heat is supposed to rise? If this is the case, then why is your upstairs level so much colder than your downstairs level during the winter months? And in the summer, the heat certainly doesn’t seem to have much trouble rising to the top, right?
When you go upstairs in the summer, is it easily 10 degrees hotter than the downstairs? You turn the thermostat down, and now it’s freezing cold downstairs. Then, during winter months, you have opposite issues. If you have family living on both levels of your home, there is a constant battle over the thermostat.
Why does this happen? How can it be resolved?
There are many reasons why the upper level can be a different temperature than the lower level. Most homes only have one heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system for the entire home, and the thermostat is installed on the main floor, where people spend most of their time during the day. Many times, the upstairs temperature will be several degrees off the main-floor temperature. This is due to faster heat loss caused by cold air in the attic and by ductwork that is too undersized to offset that extra heat loss.
When parts of your home are cooler than others, it does not necessarily mean that your system is running inefficiently. However, it is an inconvenience or discomfort that can be resolved.
Sometimes, during the construction of a new home, price can take priority over quality and functionality, and therefore HVAC systems are not installed to provide balanced heat.
Most contractors would suggest installing a “zoned” heating and cooling system. A zoned system separates your home into at least two heating and cooling areas or zones – the upstairs and the downstairs – if you have a two-story home. This type of system allows you to cool and heat them at different temperatures and requires more than one thermostat. Each zone would have its own thermostat.
Other solutions to the problem include adding a secondary system to the home or using a ductless split system. These are commonly used to supply supplementary heating or cooling. You also can also add insulation in the attic space, where much of the heat is lost during colder months. Another option is increasing the size of the ductwork to allow the air to run and insulate better.
Would it be easier or better to install a completely new heating system to balance out the air?
A whole new system is not necessarily the answer. There are many ways to improve the air quality and temperatures in your home. Sometimes dampers can be installed to help balance the airflow and reduce the difference in the upstairs and downstairs temperatures. Insulating and ductwork modifications also can aid in the balancing act. There are electronically controlled dampers for your ductwork out on the market that vary in price. These serve as valves to open and close, controlling the flow of heated and cooled air throughout your home. You also can purchase an additional thermostat to control the valves for the upper level of your home.
Most people simply deal with the issues related to temperature differences because they don’t think the problem can be resolved or that it will be too costly. Make sure you identify the problem before spending a lot of money attempting to fix it. There may be other reasons for unbalanced heating or cooling in your home. Other issues include blocked soffit vents, leaking air ducts, problems with insulation and so on. Call an HVAC specialist to help you identify the issues and find ways to enhance your system.