Getting to the Basics: Remodeling Projects

Why Does The Upstairs Of Your Home Refuse To Cool Off In The Summer?

by Jill Jenkins

When the temperature soars, does the upstairs of your home stay warm even though your downstairs seems to cool effectively? You're definitely not alone. This is a very common problem in two-story homes, and there are a number of possible causes to address. Here's a look.

A lack of attic insulation.

Though insulation is often thought of as something that's needed in the winter, it plays an important role in the summer months, too. Especially if you live in a place where the winters are mild, your attic may not have enough insulation. The sun heats the roof, and that heat passes right into your upstairs. The air conditioner simply cannot keep up! If there's no insulation or only a thin layer of insulation in your attic, head to your local home improvement store and purchase a few rolls of fiberglass insulation. Unroll them from wall to wall in your attic. Your upstairs should stay a lot cooler.

An ineffective air conditioning system.

If your air conditioner is too small for your home, it may not be able to effectively cool the entire space. And since hot air rises, the upstairs is the area that suffers most. The problem may also be that your ductwork is not designed in a way that lets enough cold air travel upstairs. This is a common issue in older homes where the ventilation system was designed to accommodate heating, but not AC. A good temporary fix is to install a window unit to use in addition to your central AC. However, if your AC needs to be replaced anyways or if you have the money to spend, you may wish to have an HVAC contractor install a larger AC unit or rework your ductwork for better cooling.

No air barrier between the upstairs and downstairs.

As described above, hot air rises. If there is no doorway or other barrier between your upstairs and downstairs, it could be that the hot air is finding its way upstairs faster than the AC can keep up. You can often remedy this situation by keeping any doors between the upstairs and downstairs closed. If there is no door, install one. Or, you can hang a thick curtain across the stairway to serve as a makeshift door. This will keep the cooler air trapped upstairs, making your home more comfortable.

If your upstairs is still overly warm, reach out to an insulation contractor from a company like Alaska Quality Insulators Inc in your area. There's a chance you need more insulation not only in your attic, but also in your walls.