Every floor in your home should be a retreat that’s warm and toasty in the cold months and cool and comfortable in the summer. However, residents in some multi-level residences find the upper floor is stubbornly hotter or colder than the rooms on ground level.

This could simply be caused by the fact that most thermostats in a house are on the ground floor, which is where people spend the most time—in the living room, kitchen, etc.—so it makes sense to set the temperature according to how it feels on the first floor.

However, temperature discrepancies between the upstairs and downstairs could also be due to issues with your HVAC system. Some of these challenges can be sorted out somewhat quickly while others might necessitate more extensive and costly fixes. Here, the team at Fairfield Heating & Cooling 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 attributed to several factors. First, heat rises, so it’s common for the second floor of a home to get hotter than the ground floor. Lack of insulation in the attic or roof can exacerbate this issue by allowing heat transfer from the roof into the upstairs rooms.

Another common reason is that the air conditioner is not strong enough to cool the entire home, causing it to have difficulty cooling the upstairs adequately.

To deal with these issues, homeowners could put in more insulation in the attic and make sure their home has sufficient ventilation. If there’s concern the air conditioner is the ideal size for the home, call an experienced HVAC company like Fairfield Heating & Cooling inspect the unit. A knowledgeable professional also can help select a unit that's better suited for your home if you want air conditioning installation or replacement.

Why Is My Upstairs Colder/Not Heating?

When the downstairs of your home is warm, but it’s very cold upstairs, that could result in an ice-cold night for anyone whose bedrooms are on the upper floor. The most prevalent reasons an upstairs not heating like it is supposed to are the insulation levels and the ductwork.

Inadequate insulation enables cold air to leak through the home’s attic or walls and contribute to heat loss, creating colder temperatures on the upper levels. It’s crucial to make sure your home has a solid, level layer of insulation in the attic and proper insulation in the walls to keep the cold out and the heat inside.

The ductwork in a home plays a fundamental role in distributing conditioned air throughout different locations of the building. However, troubles with the ductwork can contribute to the upstairs being colder than the downstairs. A frequently reported cause for this is improper airflow balance. The ducts may not be the proper size or design, causing an uneven distribution of air between the floors. This can cause more warm air to be directed to the downstairs, which creates insufficient airflow—which is the heated air—on the upper level.

Another potential problem area in the ductwork is the layout of the supply and return vents. If there are fewer vents on the upper story or they aren't well located, it can limit air circulation and cause inadequate heating or cooling. In addition, leaks or gaps in the ductwork can allow air loss, lowering the overall efficiency of the HVAC system and actually making the temperature difference worse.

To determine why the upstairs is colder than the downstairs, homeowners should hve their ductwork inspected by experienced professionals like the team at Fairfield Heating & Cooling to identify any imbalances, leaks or inadequacies. Sealing leaks and putting in additional vents or adjusting existing ones can help increase airflow and ensure a more even temperature balance between the upstairs and downstairs.

What Do I Do to Fix a Hot/Cold Upstairs?

If your upstairs is hotter or colder than the ground level of your house, an HVAC zoning system could be a highly effective solution.

An HVAC zoning system separates the home into distinct zones, which each have their own thermostat and damper system so the homeowner can modify 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 extremely cold while the main floor is comfortable. By setting up a  zoning system, homeowners can manage the temperature independently in each zone, making it possible for them to address specific hot or cold spots easily.

To find out more about an HVAC zoning system in Lancaster, call Fairfield Heating & Cooling. We’ve developed and installed customized home comfort plans for many community members and are happy to show how an HVAC zoning system could enhance the comfort in 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 issue in multi-floor homes is when the upstairs is more humid than downstairs.

A typical reason for excess upper floor humidity is poor ventilation on the upper floor, which can result in greater humidity levels. As is often the case with temperature differences between floors, insufficient insulation or sealing in the attic or walls may let warm, humid air from outdoors infiltrate the upstairs rooms. And, if there are any leaks or plumbing concerns on the upper floor, that can also cause excess moisture in that area of a home.

To address humidity problems, homeowners can improve ventilation by using fans or opening windows to promote airflow. Proper insulation  in the attic and better sealing the attic and walls can help stop external moisture from entering the upstairs. Finding 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 reduce humidity in the residence.