Upstairs too hot

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The upstairs is almost always hotter than the downstairs during the summer. Noticeably hotter. If we get the upstairs comfortable, the downstairs is like an ice box. Any suggestions? The house is about 20 years old. Also, I'm trying to avoid tearing up the roof.
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

ductwork and fans to correct. Since there are only 2 of us, wife is thinking about getting a portable AC. I don't want to stick one in the window. Maybe others can comment.
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Exhaust fan upstairs?
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Cover part of the downstairs ducts to cut down airflow.
I'd just lean something over them, but a wife may want you to unscrew the grill and put the blockage under it for neatness, when you get the size right.
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On Sun, 21 Jun 2009 12:36:16 -0400, Ron Hardin

Blocking too much of the airflow will screw up the ac unit by reducing total flow across the evap coil.
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Ashton Crusher wrote:

Parsing that sentence leads me to the (I believe correct) conclusion that as long as you don't block "too much" you'll be fine.
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wrote:

Yes. But you need to put gauges on the system to find out where "too much" is.
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Sanity wrote:

How hot is the attic? How much insulation above upstairs ceiling? If attic isn't vented enough, you may be able to increase ventilation without tearing up the roof, if you have gables. Add or improve gable vents (Including maybe a T-stat controlled fan pulling out), and unblock or add soffitt vents. If you don't have at least a foot of insulation, add some, making sure not to block the soffitt vent tubes. Did the above to my place, and it dropped attic temp at least 20 degrees on a sunny day. AC works less, and attic doesn't superheat and heat ceiling till midnight like it used to.
Within limits, you can do a poor man's zoning of the cooling system by the old trick of partially blocking some of the downstairs registers and air returns. Pay close attention though- if system starts running longer, or coil starts freezing up, it didn't like whatever you did. Do you have enough air returns upstairs? A lot of builders cheap out and only put one in the center hallway, and count on air under the doors to provide a return path. That often gets blocked by carpet. Try leaving all the upstairs doors open during the day, if you normally leave them closed.
I assume you are already leaving the drapes shut on sunny side of the house, and running any ceiling fans you have, to get the air well stirred? If you can stand the noise, a cheap box fan aimed up the stairwell can make a noticeable difference.I would not put an exhaust fan in an upstairs window during the day- you electric bill will skyrocket from cooling the outdoors.
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In article

room upstairs (we have four bedrooms)has one. Each room also has at least one and some have two on the floor. Kids have moved out, so we don't use three of the four bedrooms. We turned off the registers and keep the doors closed to these. Should we open them back up and them maybe close the ones downstairs?

ones in the non0-used bedrooms. In addition to the drapes, we have a really nice big tree just outside the bedroom windows which cuts off a LOT of the direct sunlight.
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I would try leaving the blower on all the time, open all second floor vents and returns and reduce 1st floor vents and returns. Reduce airflow to much and the coil will freeze up, so you should keep an eye on it. Has it been checked for freon, and the coil cleaned? If airflow is bad upstairs out of vents, there are inline duct fan boosters that can turn on with your thermostat to get more air to the second floor. You may have supply upstairs but without 2nd floor returns you wont cool, are the grills restrictive. There is alot you can try but a pro is a good idea.
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wrote:

The 'returns' high on the wall are likely -supply- vents, not returns. And, if there are three such vents, one is a return (on the floor or low on the wall) and the other two are supply. One is for summer, (a/c) it is up high, and the other is for winter (heat) it is down low. Unblock the return and the upper vents, leave the other (heat) one blocked.
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wrote:

Old people don't sleep twelve hours?
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Oren wrote:

Okay, fourteen. Whatever.
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"> The upstairs is almost always hotter than the downstairs during the

*This topic has been mentioned here a few times. More insulation, an attic exhaust fan, reconfiguring your ducts, adjusting your vents, or adding another zone could all help to one degree (No pun intended) or another.
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To the above list, I'd add:
Check all the existing ducts and returns. It's not unusual for joints to be made and held together with duct tape, which dries out, then the ducts become disconnected or have major leaks.
Make sure there are enough return air vents upstairs. Many times, you can just cut a bigger opening in the wall and use a bigger grill, which can improve air flow. Sometimes, with minimal work, you can add returns too.
There are booster fans available which can go either as hardwired in a duct that feeds the upstairs, or plug-in type that sit over the register and have built-in sensor that turns it on when it detects air flow.
If none of the above is enough, a ductless mini-split system may also be appropriate
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

layout, a ceiling fan in stairway or near it might help push the warm air downstairs or toward return to AC. Insulation. Attic ventilation with ridge vents and soffit vents.
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Is the ceiling fan exhausted into the attic or would I need to put a hole in my roof? I have two ridge vents, one above the (downstairs) family room w/ cathedral ceiling, and another on the main roof. I counted 8 soffit vents including 6 along the main living upstairs living area. How much insulation is currently be suggested?
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He's talking about a ceiling fan that circulates air within the house. IF you can place one in a location where it can push hot air down from the second floor to the first floor, it could help. Plus the breeze will make it feel cooler.
I have two ridge vents, one above the (downstairs)

Depends on the climate. What you need in SC is different than in MN. Also, the number of vents doesn't matter. What's important is that they are distributed and that there is sufficient exhaust and intake AREA for the attic size.

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I started leaving the air handler fan running on low all the time. seems to counteract this somewhat, and as a nice benefit, keeps the humidity more consistent between basement and upstairs as well. I was worried that living outside of DC doing so would overwork the small portable dehumidifier in my basement (humidity is higher than comfortable even when the outdoor temperature is reasonable) but it seems to be working out OK. Still the upstairs is 2-3 degrees warmer than the first floor and warmer yet than the basement, will likely install attic fan to try to help at some point in the vague future.
nate
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N8N wrote:

Also our thermostat is wireless, in winter we locate it downstairs, in summer we locate it upstairs and close few air registers downstairs to even out temp. between up/downstairs. Works prewtty good.
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