The top floor of your home can become unbearable when the summer heat pushes toward three-digit temperatures and the humidity feels like a thick jacket. Upstairs heat gain is often found in older homes with inadequate insulation or poor airflow. The warm, humid air makes it difficult to enjoy your living space. Here are some different methods to help combat your upstairs heat!

Simple Fixes to Help Cool Your Upstairs

An efficient, healthy HVAC system is one of the most important elements for adequate cooling. Finding a solution does not need to break the bank. Try the following recommendations to alleviate the dread of walking upstairs on a hot summer day. 

Change your air filter regularly

Focus on the basics of HVAC maintenance first. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow and prevent proper cooling. This means your unit will work harder to satisfy the thermostat and the air coming out of the vents will not be fully cooled. Cleaning or replacing your air filter can help your air conditioner work smarter, not harder.  

Properly open vents, don’t block the return air supply

Let the air flow! A common approach is to close the vents on the main floor or unattended rooms to push air throughout the rest of the house. This idea may sound convincing, but your HVAC system is still pushing the same amount of air through the ductwork. When that air hits a dead end with no escape, it creates higher pressure on the ductwork where the vents are closed. This extra force can cause leaks in the ductwork and more problems than benefits down the road. 

The proper solution is to be sure your upstairs vents are fully opened. If you want to attempt to send extra air upstairs to cool down your space, use the damper on the ductwork if you have one. This will help guide air to the desired locations and is a better way to keep the upstairs at an ideal temperature.

Install lightly colored curtains or drapes

A simple tip to keep the heat outdoors is to add curtains or drapes. Choose a lighter color to neutralize the solar rays and prevent your top floor from turning into a sauna. A darker curtain color will invite the heat and it will linger. This may not be a solve-all solution, but reflecting the sunlight is certain to help. 

Keep heat-generating appliances off

Do your best to not use heat-producing appliances and devices, especially during the hottest time of the day. Examples include TVs, clothes dryers, or taking a hot shower. Running appliances and devices on the main floor can produce heat that rises and stays trapped upstairs. To keep things cool, be mindful of what you use throughout the day.

Run a fan (when you’re in the room)

Turning on a ceiling or floor fan will help you feel cooler when your upstairs is warm. Keep in mind that a fan does not act as a miniature air conditioner. It will not remove humidity and pump cool air throughout your space. However, you will feel much more comfortable upstairs with more air circulation. Be sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room so you’re not wasting energy.

Keep your HVAC fan set to ‘on’

Your thermostat has two settings for the fan: ‘on’ and ‘auto’. The auto setting will only run the fan when the air conditioner is cooling the home. If you flip this switch to ‘on’ the fan will run continuously. This does not mean the air conditioner will never turn off, but that the fan will continue to circulate air throughout your home. This can help keep your second floor at a more comfortable temperature during the day. When the air is not moving through your home, the air can feel stale and add to the discomfort. Give it a try to see if you notice a difference.

Keep Upstairs Cool with Minor Updates

Unfortunately, not every solution can be cheap and easy. Checking your windows, ductwork, and insulation situation may seem like a nuisance at the moment, but can help ensure you have a consistent and comfortable temperature throughout your house.

Seal your windows

The first item on your maintenance list should be to check that all of your windows are properly sealed. Even the smallest cracks can allow the warm exterior air to seep through. You can visually inspect for cracks and gaps or use these tips from the Department of Energy

Inspect your ductwork

Keep things cool upstairs by getting your ducts in a row. Your air conditioner is working hard to send ice-cold air throughout your house. Don’t let unattended leaks in the ductwork be the reason to not sleep easy at night. In some cases, adding a second duct run can cool down your upstairs and prevent leaking.

Check your insulation

The purpose of insulation is to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insufficient or no insulation in your attic or upstairs ceiling can leave you wiping the sweat from your brow when the summer heat hits. It is best to contact a professional contractor to assess your insulation needs. The good news is you may not need a total tear-out as there are non-destructive solutions to pump insulation into your walls and ceiling. 

Schedule an AC Inspection with Wyckoff

Clearly, there are several factors that can individually or collectively contribute to a hot, humid upstairs living space. Take the process one step at a time and remember to not neglect proper air conditioner maintenance. Also keep in mind that if your air conditioner is not performing efficiently, these tips will be of little value. Schedule AC service with Wyckoff Heating & Cooling to gain peace of mind!