Every floor in your home should be a sanctuary that’s warm and cozy in the winter season 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 rooms on ground level.

This could simply be because most thermostats in a house are on the first 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 discrepancies between the upstairs and downstairs could also be due to problems with your HVAC system. Some of these issues can be sorted out fairly quickly while others might call for more extensive and costly fixes. Here, the specialists at Northwest Services will help you figure out why the upstairs of your home is hotter than downstairs, or vice versa.

Why Is It Hotter Upstairs?

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 normal for the second floor of a home to get hotter than the first 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 air conditioning is not powerful enough to cool the entire home, causing it to have difficulty cooling the upstairs properly.

To fix these issues, homeowners could put in extra insulation in the attic and make sure their home has sufficient ventilation. If there’s concern the AC is the right size for the home, call an experienced HVAC company like Northwest Services inspect the unit. A skilled 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 Always Cold/Not Heating?

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

Inadequate insulation permits cold air to seep through the home’s attic or walls and contribute to heat loss, creating colder temperatures on the upper levels. It’s essential 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 fundamental role in disseminating conditioned air throughout different rooms of the building. However, issues with the ductwork can result in the upstairs being colder than the downstairs. A typical cause for this is improper airflow balance. The ducts may not be the correct size or configuration, resulting in an uneven distribution of air between the floors. This can cause more warm air to flow downstairs, leaving insufficient airflow—which is the heated air—on the upper level.

Another possible issue with the ductwork is the placement of the supply and return vents. If there are fewer vents on the upper level or they are poorly located, it can reduce air circulation and cause substandard heating or cooling. Additionally, leaks or gaps in the ductwork can lead to 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 examined by experienced professionals like the team at Northwest Services to identify any imbalances, leaks or inadequacies. Sealing leaks and putting in new 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 residence, an HVAC zoning system could be an effective solution.

An HVAC zoning system breaks the residence 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 particularly beneficial in instances where the upstairs of a multi-story home is too 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, making it possible for them to address specific hot or cold spots effortlessly.

To learn more about an HVAC zoning system in Swanton, call Northwest Services. We’ve developed 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 it So Humid Upstairs?

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

A frequent explanation for excess upper floor humidity is inadequate ventilation on the upper floor, which can cause greater humidity levels. As is often the case with temperature differences between floors, insufficient insulation or sealing in the attic or walls may allow warm, humid air from outside the house infiltrate the upstairs rooms. Plus, if there are any leaks or plumbing problems on the upper floor, that can also cause extra moisture in that area of a home.

To manage humidity problems, homeowners can add more ventilation by installing fans or opening windows to promote airflow. Proper insulation  in the attic and better sealing the attic and walls can help prevent 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 useful tool to manage humidity in your home.