Every floor in your home should be a retreat that’s warm and cozy in the cold months and cool and comfortable in the summer. However, families who live in some homes with multiple levels find the upper floor is stubbornly hotter or colder than the main floor.

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

However, temperature variations between the upstairs and downstairs could also be caused by issues with your HVAC system. Some of these challenges can be solved fairly quickly while others might call for more extensive and costly fixes. Here, the team at Better Air will help you determine 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 feeling hotter than the downstairs can be traced to several factors. Number one, heat rises, so it’s normal for the second floor of a home to get hotter than the main floor. Insufficient insulation in the attic or roof can exacerbate this issue by permitting heat transfer from the roof into the upstairs rooms.

Another common reason is that the HVAC system is not big enough to cool the entire home, causing it to have difficulty cooling the upstairs adequately.

To tackle these issues, homeowners could install more insulation in the attic and make sure their home has proper ventilation. If there’s a possibility the AC is the proper size for the home, call an experienced HVAC company like Better Air inspect the unit. A knowledgeable professional also can help find a unit that's better suited for your home if you need air conditioning installation or replacement.

Why Is My Upstairs So Cold/Not Heating?

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

Inadequate insulation permits cold air to filter 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 deep, 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 very important role in disseminating conditioned air throughout different locations of the building. However, issues 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 design, which results in 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 higher floors.

Another potential problem area in the ductwork is the layout of the supply and return vents. If there are fewer vents on the upper level or they are not correctly placed, it can reduce air circulation and cause inadequate heating or cooling. Also, 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 understand why the upstairs is colder than the downstairs, homeowners should hve their ductwork checked by skilled professionals like the team at Better Air to identify any imbalances, leaks or inadequacies. Sealing leaks and installing additional vents or adjusting existing ones can help improve airflow and ensure a better temperature balance between the upstairs and downstairs.

Fixing the Hot or Cold Upstairs Problem?

If your upstairs is hotter or colder than the rest of your home, an HVAC zoning system could be a great solution.

An HVAC zoning system breaks the residence into distinctive 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 too cold while the main floor is comfortable. By installing a  zoning system, homeowners can regulate the temperature independently in each zone, making it possible for them to address specific hot or cold spots effectively.

To learn more about an HVAC zoning system in Dundas and Northfield, call Better Air. We’ve designed and installed customized home comfort plans for many community members and are happy to show how an HVAC zoning system could work in your home.

Why Is the Humidity So High Upstairs?

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 higher levels are more humid than downstairs.

A common reason for excess upper floor humidity is inadequate ventilation on the upper floor, which can result in higher humidity levels. As is often the case with temperature differences between floors, poor 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 lead to excessive moisture in that section of a home.

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

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