Every floor in your home should be a refuge that’s warm and comfy in the cold months and cool and comfortable in the summer. However, owners of some two-story homes find the upper floor is stubbornly hotter or colder than the rooms on ground level.

This could just be because most thermostats in a house are on the ground floor, which is where people spend the greatest amount of time—in the living room, kitchen, etc.—so as a result they tend to set the temperature according to how it feels on the first floor.

However, temperature discrepancies between the upstairs and downstairs could also be because of problems with your HVAC system. Some of these issues can be fixed relatively quickly while others might necessitate more extensive and costly fixes. Here, the professionals at 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning will help you solve why the upstairs of your home is hotter than downstairs, or vice versa.

Why Is My Upstairs So Hot?

The phenomenon of the upstairs of a two-story home getting hotter than the downstairs can be chalked up to several factors. For starters, heat rises, so it’s common for the second floor of a home to get hotter than the main floor. Insufficient insulation in the attic or roof can make this worse by letting heat transfer from the roof into the upstairs rooms.

Another common reason is that the air conditioner is not big enough to cool the entire home, causing it to struggle to cool the upstairs effectively.

To deal with these issues, homeowners could add extra insulation in the attic and make sure their home has proper ventilation. If there’s concern the air conditioning unit is the right size for the home, call an experienced HVAC company like 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning inspect the unit. A qualified professional also can help locate a unit that's better suited for your home if you are considering air conditioning installation or replacement.

Why Is My Upstairs Colder/Not Heating?

When the downstairs of your home is warm, but it’s extremely chilly upstairs, that makes for a frosty night for anyone whose bedrooms are on the upper floor. The most prevalent explanations for an upstairs not heating like it is supposed to are the insulation levels and the ductwork.

Inadequate insulation allows cold air to seep through the home’s attic or walls and contribute to heat loss, causing colder temperatures upstairs. It’s crucial to make sure your home has a thick, level layer of insulation in the attic and appropriate insulation in the walls to keep the cold out and the heat inside.

The ductwork in a home plays a critical role in distributing conditioned air throughout different locations of the building. However, problems with the ductwork can cause the upstairs being colder than the main level. A common explanation for this is improper airflow balance. The ducts may not be the correct size or in the appropriate layout, which results in an uneven distribution of air between the floors. This can cause more warm air to be directed to the downstairs, causing insufficient airflow—which is the heated air—on the upper story.

Another potential problem area in the ductwork is the location of the supply and return vents. If there are fewer vents on the upper level or they aren't well installed, it can restrict air circulation and cause inferior heating or cooling. In addition, leaks or gaps in the ductwork can allow air loss, reducing the overall efficiency of the HVAC system and making the temperature difference more pronounced.

To determine why the upstairs is colder than the downstairs, homeowners should hve their ductwork checked by skilled HVAC pros like the team at 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning to identify any imbalances, leaks or inadequacies. Sealing leaks and installing more vents or adjusting existing ones can help improve airflow and ensure a more even temperature balance between the upstairs and downstairs.

Fixing the Hot or Cold Upstairs Problem?

If your upstairs is hotter or colder than the lower floors of your house, an HVAC zoning system could be an effective solution.

An HVAC zoning system separates the home into different zones, which each have their own thermostat and damper system so the homeowner can control the heating or cooling of each zone.

This system can be especially helpful in situations where the upstairs of a multi-story home is very hot or really cold while the main floor is comfortable. By investing in a  zoning system, homeowners can manage the temperature independently in each zone, allowing them to address specific hot or cold spots easily.

To find out more about an HVAC zoning system in Lake Forest, call 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve designed and installed customized home comfort plans for many community members and are happy to show how an HVAC zoning system could benefit your home.

Why Is My Upstairs So Humid?

In addition to the upper story being hotter or colder than the rest of the house, another problem in multi-floor homes is when the upper floors are more humid than downstairs.

A common cause for excess upper floor humidity is weak ventilation on the upper floor, which can produce greater humidity levels. As is often the case with temperature differences between floors, poor insulation or sealing in the attic or walls may permit warm, humid air from outside the house infiltrate the upstairs rooms. In addition, if there are any leaks or plumbing concerns on the upper floor, that can also cause excessive moisture in that level of a home.

To deal with humidity problems, homeowners can add more ventilation by getting fans or opening windows to promote airflow. Adding more insulation  in the attic and better sealing the attic and walls can help protect against external moisture from entering the upstairs. Locating and repairing any leaks or plumbing issues is also critical.

Depending on the levels of moisture found in the home, a whole-home dehumidifier could be another helpful tool to manage humidity on the upper and lower floors.