Throughout the hot St. Louis summer months, the upstairs of a two-story home is often much warmer than the downstairs level, even when the air conditioning system is operating. This is a common problem for homeowners with forced-air HVAC systems with one thermostat located on the first floor of their home. To know why the system isn’t keeping upstairs as cool as the downstairs, it helps to understand how a forced-air system works. Then you can apply a few strategies that will help distribute the cool air more evenly throughout your St. Louis and St. Charles area homes.
How Does a Forced-Air HVAC System Work?
A forced-air, or central air HVAC home cooling system begins at the thermostat. You set the thermostat to your desired temperature, and when the temperature in the room rises above that, the AC unit kicks on to bring the temperature down and cool the home. Whenever your AC unit is running, it is pulling in air in through return vents, cooling the air, and then forcing the air back out through the supply ducts and into the living space. When the temperature in the living space drops to the set level, the thermostat then responds by shutting the AC down. Heat rises and cooler air drops into the lower areas of the house (usually where the thermostat is located). Heat from the hot Missouri summer outside then begins to warm things up again. Because heat rises, the temperature on the second floor goes up first, causing the second floor to feel warmer than the first floor. Despite these variables, there are some things you can do to level your home’s temperature to a more comfortable level all over.
What Can You Do to More Consistently Cool Your Missouri Home?
Homeowners can do a number of DIY adjustments to more evenly cool your St. Louis and St. Charles County area homes and make them more energy-efficient.
Here are some simple changes you can do on your own:
Adjust dampers on your vents.
If your vents have levers or dials, that means you can control the airflow by adjusting the level of air coming out. If the second floor of your home is hotter than the lower in the summer months, keep the dampers on the second-floor vents completely open and just partially open the vents on the first floor to force more of the cool air to enter the second-floor areas.
Use your ceiling fans properly.
If you have ceiling fans in your home, you can use them to directly cool a room as well as to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system. During the summer months, set the switch on the base of your ceiling fan so that the fan blades move in a counterclockwise direction. This pushes the air downward to directly cool people upstairs. This kind of direct breeze you create helps the room feel cooler.
Open top return vents (top/bottom return systems only).
If you have a top/bottom return vent operation, open the top vents in the summer months. Opening the top vents will make your system draw in air from a higher point in the room where the warmer air exists. Do the opposite in the winter months.
Close curtains during the day upstairs to keep the sun’s rays out.
Blocking the sun from entering your home during the day will naturally help keep the indoor temperature cooler and place less demand on your AC system.
If you’ve tried these changes and it’s still just too hot upstairs and your system isn’t keep up, your cooling system may be the wrong size for your home. If your system isn’t big enough for your home, it will run longer and more often.
Make sure that your HVAC unit is maintained before the summer and winter months to keep it running at it’s optimal performance.
If think your system is insufficient for your home, call AAA Home Services or request an hvac estimate online for a free in-home estimate.