Solving uneven heating on different floors

March 30, 2015

No more "it's too hot upstairs!"

One of the most common complaints many of us have about our homes is that it's too hot upstairs or too cold downstairs. In some houses, it may be a slight inconvenience. In others, especially in older homes, this problem may be a symptom of a more serious issue with air flow, insulation or efficiency. Before you spend any more time fiddling with the thermostat and running your furnace or air conditioning system when you don't need to, consider what the real root of the problem might be. The most common reasons for temperature imbalances between floors or rooms in your home:

  • Air flow is being restricted between the furnace to the registers.
  • Ductwork is not the right size or hasn't been sealed properly.
  • Your furnace or air conditioning system isn't the right size for your home.
  • Thermostat is only reading the temperature of the floor that is being heated/cooled.

As you can see, many of these issues are not easy to identify as a homeowner. A well-trained HVAC professional can test and assess your system to help you identify the real cause of your heating and cooling issues and determine the best solution for your home and your budget. Here are a few of the potential solutions that CaliforniaFIRST professionals recommend:

Make some adjustments:

Sometimes a little cleaning or adjustment is all you need to get the air flowing again. Make sure your air filter is clean and your thermostat fan is set to Auto or On. You may also be able to adjust the vents to redirect the forced air to the places it's needed. If you thermostat fan is already on Auto, try switching it to On as a quick fix. This tells the fan to run continuously and can help circulate air more consistently throughout the house.

Have ductwork inspected:

Before installing any new equipment, it's important to make sure your ducts and the heating and cooling systems you already have are working at their best. Improperly sized and leaky ducts are often the reason cool and warm air don't circulate throughout the whole house.

Add a second system:

While this may seem like an expensive route, it's sometimes the best way to go for two-story homes with one furnace. Adding a second heating and cooling system allows you to better control the temperature on each floor. You can waste thousands of dollars trying to make lots of minor fixes to an outdated and improperly sized system that still doesn't do the job. With the support of CaliforniaFIRST and other financing opportunities, a second system can give you increased comfort and decreased utility bills.

Add a zoning system:

If your only thermostat is located on the first floor, the temperature that it reads will govern. When the first floor reaches your target temperature, it shuts off cooling or heating for the whole house, regardless of whether the second floor has also reached that temperature. Zoning systems allow you to control the temperature independently from a thermostat placed on each floor. It's a less-expensive alternative if you've got a powerful heating and cooling system that just isn't working to its full potential.

Add a ductless split:

A ductless mini split is an air conditioner and/or heater without the ductwork. These small heating and cooling systems focus on one room, so you can control the temperature independently in each room where a unit is installed. Ductless mini-splits are ideal for large homes where you only want to heat or cool the rooms you use the most. As the weather warms up, indoor temperatures are starting to rise as well. Stay cool and comfortable this summer with some easy cooling updates recommended by CaliforniaFIRST. And it's worth saying again, if your home has temperature imbalance issues, you should consult a reputable heating and cooling contractor to diagnose the root of the problem and give you a variety of possible solutions. Working with CaliforniaFIRST-approved contractors lets you rest easy knowing they have the information and resources to recommend the services you need and the financial support options to make them affordable. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get started with boosting the comfort and efficiency of your home!