hotter second story

In winter and summer, a two-story home can have uneven heat distribution, with a hot upstairs and a cold downstairs. Heat rises, so excess heat collects in the second story, especially if you have a powerful air conditioning system on the first floor.

Of course, if you’re uncomfortable on the second floor because it’s too hot in the summer, you’ll turn up the air conditioning to compensate. Unfortunately, this just makes the problem worse. The same goes in the winter, if you’re too cold on the first floor you turn up the heat, only for the second floor to collect that excess heat.

The Problem of Ducts

The core problem behind this temperature difference is usually the ductwork. Central air and central heating systems generate cold or hot air at the air conditioner or furnace. They push that cool or hot air through the home using a series of ducts, the square metal channels you might see running through your ceiling or walls.

However, the further the air travels through the ducts, the more it is affected by the surrounding temperature in the home. Cold air will get hotter as it reaches the second floor, lessening the impact of your air conditioning.

The opposite problem happens in winter, as your furnace pushes heat through the ducts it is also propelled along by heat’s tendency to rise. You can get the heat to the second floor, but you can’t make some of it stay behind on the first floor. Smart changes in duct design are an option for some homeowners, but there is an even better solution.

Ductless Air Conditioners

You can get around the problem of ducts altogether. Mitsubishi ductless air conditioners are installed in rooms without the need to run vents to them. Together, several of these air conditioners cool the different zones of your home. If your second story is too hot, the ductless air conditioner on the second floor can be set to work harder, without affecting your first floor at all.

If you’d rather not install multiple ductless air conditioners, you can simply install one on the second floor to reduce its temperature as a supplement to your central air.

The Problem of Heat Load

While less of a problem here in California than other places, you still may be uncomfortable if your second story is much hotter than your first in the winter. In California, this is more likely to be caused by a poorly insulated roof. Our blistering sun is here year round, and its heat may radiate through a thin roof, causing excess heat load. Add the heat your furnace is generating, and suddenly your second story is too warm.

You can fix this problem by installing new thermal insulation in your roof. However, not all homeowners will want to invest in this solution. A cheaper option is moving your thermostat. The second floor will always have a higher heat load, but thermostats are usually on a home’s first floor! Moving your thermostat up will have your furnace work only when the second floor is colder than you like.

Your home is unique, and we may have a unique solution to help solve your temperature difference problems. Contact us to discuss your heating or cooling needs.