Atel Air Blog


For those who live in a home with levels, you’ve undoubtedly discovered how challenging it can be to cool it evenly. During the summer, your main floor is perfect, but the upstairs feels 5 to 10 degrees warmer, and the basement is freezing. If you try to cool the upper floor further, you’ll find yourself needing a sweater on the main floor – in August! Whatever you do, someone, somewhere in the house, is going to be uncomfortable.

So, how do you cool a two-story house?

Solution 1: Find and Fix Underlying Problems

There may be underlying problems causing your home to cool unevenly. These potential issues should be explored and solved before considering other solutions. Here are a few things to look for:

Leaky Air Ducts – If your air conditioning system is located in the basement, cold air must travel a long way through ductwork to reach the upper floors. If these ducts leak air, not enough cold air will make it to your upper floors. The average air duct system loses 20-30% of conditioned air to gaps and cracks in the ductwork. An experienced HVAC company can test your air ducts for leaks and get them sealed for you.

Blocked Soffit Vents – Soffit vents allow outside air to enter your attic. If they are blocked by insulation, a bird’s nest or something else, this situation can lead to serious roof damage. Blocked soffit vents will also cause your attic fans to suck up your home’s conditioned air into the attic. This will cause your system to work much harder, increasing your energy bills too.

Poor Attic Insulation – Much like a blocked soffit vent, insufficient attic insulation will cause your unit to work harder and your upper floors to be warmer than you’d like.

Blocked Supply & Return Vents – Walk around your home’s interior and check all of your supply and return vents. Make sure they are all open and that nothing like rugs, drapes, furniture or anything else is blocking them. While some people try blocking off vents to redirect airflow, this is never a good idea. Instead, if you want to redirect airflow in your home, ask a licensed HVAC technician about installing dampers inside your ductwork to create HVAC zones.

Use the Fan Setting – Most people have their fan set to “Auto,” which turns on the fan whenever the heat or AC is running. We recommend turning on the fan when the AC is not actively running. This will allow your system to circulate air throughout the home continually. This is an excellent way to keep your home cool with less impact on your energy bills.

Solution 2: Consider a Zoned System

A zoned system divides your home into separate heating and cooling zones, in this case, upper and lower floors. This allows you to heat and cool them at different temperatures.

There are two components to a zoned system. The first is to have electronically controlled dampers installed in your ductwork. Acting like valves, dampers open and close to control the airflow throughout your home. Working in tandem with the dampers are multiple thermostats, one in each zone. These allow you to control the electronic dampers installed in your air ducts.

Another type of zoned HVAC system is a ductless mini-split unit. Instead of dampers, a mini-split system has indoor air handlers installed in each zone, each with a corresponding thermostat. For each outdoor heat pump, you can have as many as 4 indoor mini-split units in your home. High-efficiency mini-split systems are also eligible for generous government rebates, making them a very attractive choice right now.

If you are having trouble heating and cooling your 2-story home, Atel Air is pleased to help. Contact Atel Air anytime for expert advice, knowledgable service and high-quality HVAC equipment.