Why exactly is your house hotter upstairs?
With the summer months upon us, a common issue that many homeowners face is uneven heat distribution between the upper and lower floors – particularly when the upstairs is warmer than the bottom floor. While thermodynamics tells us that heat rises naturally, allowing your upper floor to remain too hot could be costly to both your wallet and your comfort. With that said, here are a few of the potential causes (and solutions) to your properties’ heating issue.
What Is Causing My Top Floor To Overheat?
#1: Overheated Roof
During the summer months, the excessive outdoor heat may cause your roof to absorb so much sunlight that it overheats your attic. This could drastically increase the heat of your 2nd floor living spaces, especially if you have inadequate insulation. This is most likely to be an issue if you have not replaced your roof recently, as newer roofing materials are designed to prevent excess heat from entering your home.
#2: An Old HVAC Unit
Although HVAC units are expensive to install, property owners should know that heating and air conditioning units will generally have an average lifespan of 10-20 years, depending on several factors. If the top floor of your residence is overheated and you’ve had your current HVAC system for a while, it is likely time to consider having a new system installed. With that said, we certainly recommend that you consult with a professional before replacing your HVAC unit, as it is a major expense that needs to be done properly. If you’re anywhere near Birmingham, reach out to Service Tech, Inc. for a free consultation.
#3: Your Ductwork
Ducts play an integral role in the heating and air conditioning process, as they transport cool and hot air from your central HVAC system and distribute it throughout your residence. If your air conditioning unit is on the first floor, air will have to travel through a series of ducts before it reaches your top floor. This creates a problem if your ducts are damaged, leaky, or incomplete.
It also could be a case where the original installation of your ductwork was done improperly, and these issues are just now getting bad enough for you to really notice them. Professional HVAC technicians are trained to do proper load calculations in order to determine the exact dimensions needed for your ductwork. If this wasn’t taken into account during the original construction of your home like it should have been, it may be time to get a professional assessment from the team at Service, Tech, Inc.
#4: Inadequate Attic Insulation
Similar to how we discussed that a quality roof can be a barrier to the Alabama heatwaves we all know and love, a well-insulated attic can provide similar protection from excessive heat in your top floor rooms. Your attic should be insulated to an appropriate . Depending on where you live, the U.S. Department of Energy has laid out guidelines for specific types of insulation that should be installed based on geographical location. This insulation is measured in R-values. Here in Birmingham, Alabama, the recommended R-value for insulation is the ‘zone three’ requirement. For zone three areas, you should add an R30 – R60 level to attic spaces without any existing insulation.
#5: Old Filters
Last but not least, a common reason that your upstairs is hotter is due to old filters. Over time, filters accumulate dust, dirt, and other particulate matter. If they are not replaced on a routine basis (roughly every three months), then clogged up air filters can limit airflow, blocking the cool air that’s trying to flow into your top floor.
What Can I Do To Improve My Properties’ Heat Distribution?
Now that we’ve gone over a few of the problems that might be causing your second story to be warmer than your main floor, here are four simple ways that you or a professional can alleviate the problem.
#1. Add Proper Insulation To Your Attic
As discussed earlier, adding the proper insulation to your attic will prevent heat from escaping, keeping your top floor cool. If your home does not already have the recommended minimum R30 value, this may be the best place to start since it will save you money on your energy bills anyway.
#2. Replace All Of Your Filters
Before you do that though, it only takes a minute to check your air filters on your central air conditioning unit. Replacing your filters is a simple, at-home task that you can complete on a regular basis to increase airflow and air-quality. You can also join our home HVAC maintenance program to make sure all the needed services are performed to keep your unit running at peak efficiency year-round.
#3. Use Caulk Or Another Material To Seal Off Your Windows And Doors
Often times, cool air will escape your house via windows, doors, and other openings, so sealing these cracks can help keep cool air inside. If you live in our service area, Alabama Power has a lot of useful resources to help you find the largest sources of energy loss in your home.
#4. Consider Installing A Fan
Although this doesn’t necessarily fix your AC problem, ceiling fans can provide some much-needed relief from the heat. Recirculating air can help you feel cooler, just make sure the fan blades are oriented correctly for the time of year. In Alabama’s humid environment, you may also want to consider purchasing a small dehumidifier unit to make your home air less muggy.
Although these simple fixes could correct some of your heating issues, the best advice we can give you is to consult with a professional immediately, particularly if your heating issues aren’t alleviated by the quick-fixes listed above. If your top floor is significantly warmer than your bottom floors, it may be best to modify your duct work, or you may even need a 2nd unit added to keep up with the upstairs portion of your home. Either way, a trained heating and air conditioning technician is the person best qualified to diagnose this issue for you.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Service Tech, Inc. – A Heating & Air Conditioning Company With three decades of experience in the business, consistently satisfied customers, and quality customer service. You can count on us to quickly and effectively diagnose your heating and air conditioning issues. If you’re experiencing issues with your upstairs temperatures getting out of hand in the summertime, we would be honored to work with you to find the right solution. If you’re interested in our services, you can contact us here.