Every floor in your home should be a refuge that’s warm and comfy in the winter season 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 main floor, which is where people spend the most 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 differences between the upstairs and downstairs could also be due to problems with your HVAC system. Some of these challenges can be solved relatively quickly while others might necessitate more extensive and costly fixes. Here, the team at Thurston 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 becoming 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. Not enough 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 powerful enough to cool the entire home, causing it to struggle to cool the upstairs adequately.

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

Why Is My Upstairs So Cold/Not Heating?

When the downstairs of your home is warm, but it’s very cold upstairs, that can cause a very chilly night for anyone whose bedrooms are on the upper floor. The most prevalent reasons an upstairs not heating like it should 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, causing colder temperatures upstairs. It’s crucial to make sure your home has a deep, 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 critical role in disseminating conditioned air throughout different rooms of the building. However, troubles with the ductwork can cause the upstairs being colder than the main level. A typical explanation for this is improper airflow balance. The ducts may not be the correct size or configuration, creating an uneven distribution of air between the floors. This can cause more warm air to go downstairs, leaving insufficient airflow—which is the heated air—on the upper story.

Another potential problem area in the ductwork is the layout of the supply and return vents. If there are fewer vents on the upper floor or they aren't well installed, it can limit air circulation and cause substandard heating or cooling. Also, leaks or gaps in the ductwork can lead to air loss, decreasing the overall efficiency of the HVAC system and actually making the temperature difference worse.

To figure out why the upstairs is colder than the downstairs, homeowners should hve their ductwork examined by trusted experts like the team at Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning to identify any imbalances, leaks or inadequacies. Sealing leaks and installing more vents or adjusting existing ones can help increase airflow and ensure a more even temperature balance between the upstairs and downstairs.

How You Can Fix a Hot or Cold Upstairs?

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

An HVAC zoning system divides the residence 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 very effective in situations where the upstairs of a multi-story home is too hot or too cold while the main floor is comfortable. By implementing a  zoning system, homeowners can regulate the temperature independently in each zone, making it possible for them to address specific hot or cold spots easily.

To discover more about an HVAC zoning system in Kearney, call Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve developed 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 challenge in multi-floor homes is when the upper floors are more humid than the lower level.

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

To manage 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 prevent external moisture from entering the upstairs. Identifying and repairing any leaks or plumbing issues is also extremely important.

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