We are having near 100 degree temperatures in Western Washington. We
have a 3000 sq ft house with 4 split levels and central air
conditioning. With the ac on, the bottom two levels are cool but the
upper two levels are very warm and uncomfortable. I can feel some cool
air coming out of the upstairs vents but it doesn't seem to make much
difference. We had the shake roof replaced with composite shingles a
month ago. Thanks for any suggestions/advice.
Heat rises; therefore...
1. Live downstairs for a while
2. Add some ceiling fans to move air around/down
3. Add more insulation
4. Turn down the thermostat
5. Call your HVAC guy and bitch
6. Call your HVAC guy and tell him you want to add another zone. Or two.
Where's the return, BTW?
Almost all southern homes have ceiling fans in every room. They help a great
deal. There are days when all you need is some air circulating to cool you down.
The other thing I did was to install twin attic fans and additional soffit
vents. That brought the temperature of the attic down from over 140 degrees
to about 90 to 110 degrees (depending upon the outdoor temperature). That
seemed to stop a lot of heat from creeping down through the attic floor.
There is not a whole lot you can really do. You system was not designed
for your current temperatures. When was the last time it was that hot?
One suggestion was to buy a small window unit and I would likely do just
that. You will not need it often so you don't need to worry about it being
I caution the idea of closing off or restricting the registers on the
lower floor. You might just restrict it too much and not only will it not
cool well, but could damage some equipment. Of course you would get the
same effect by running with clogged filters and the person who did that
recommendation did suggest making sure the filters were clean.
Might want to keep the AC air handler on all the time. This helps
equalize temperatures in my house (2 story). During the day we are
downstairs with the thermastat, but at night we turn the fan from AUTO
to ON, to keep the whole house comfortable.
tom @ www.Consolidated-Loans.info
Thanks for all your suggestions. I know the filter is clean. Don't
know if it is worth it to install an a/c unit upstairs because this kind
of heat (near 100) is infrequent in Western Washington. Hope the hot
temperatures are not a long-term change due to global warming. The
suggestion to switch the fan to "on" instead of "auto" is worth a try.
If all fails, we can always head to the mall or movie theater.
Not worth upgrading the AC for temps this rare, but you could put more
insulation in the attic floor or whereever. The attic is hot and that
is heating your ceiling and radiating into your uppper floors.
Also, make sure is ventilation in your attic. Make sure when you add
insulation that you don't obstruct air flow from the soffits.
Hose down the roof occasionally during the hottest part of the day with
a garden hose to remove a lot of heat.
Partially close some of the downstairs vents that have the shortest run
from the air handler. Make sure the upstairs vents are wide open.
Where are the returns? If the system was designed for heat only they are
down at the lower levels. And if designed for heat the supplies are smaller
on the upper floors. A proper retrofit for A/C adds a return from the top
of the house. If this wasn't done there isn't anything you can do, until a
proper return is put in.
In my 1891 house, which originally had hot air heat (non-forced), I
couldn't run a return up, and the supply ducts are in the brick and can't
be enlarged. So I put a packaged unit on the roof that covers the top two
floors. This leaves only the bottom two floors for the A/C that was added
to the heating system.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
If you have an attic, does it have any ventilation? Ventilating the
attic space has a few advantages:
1. It will increase the longevity of your asphalt shingle roof.
2. It will keep the attic cooler, and therefore the living space under
it will be cooler.
I have a similar problem in my 2 story house. In hot weather, the first
floor is a lot cooler. I can combat this by opening windows upstairs and
by occasionally using a big box fan, usually in a window, blowing in.
Especially in the evening, this cools off a room by 5-10 degrees very
My bedroom is upstairs, and in all but the hottest weather, having a
couple of screened windows open makes it comfortable to sleep. If it
gets a bit cool, I lower a shade or two or even close a window and go
back to sleep.
I found this website www.quietcoolfan.com and went to the local hardware
store and came up with my own version for about $140.
Its similar to the idea of the huge whole house fans, but its distributed.
I started with one in our bedroom. When its slightly cooler outside then in
the bedroom I kick on the Fan and it sucks air from the outside, into the
bedroom, then the aid form the bedroom into the attic, then pushed the air
in the attic out the attic venting. Kind of multi purpose.
To cool down the attic while its still hot outside (Attic is usually hotter
then outside anyway, but the house is not usually as hot as it is outside)
you could put in a Gable Fan and suck in air from the outside into the attic
and blow the air form the attic to the outside.
In about 10 minutes I can cool down the bedroom several degrees!
I'm about ready to install one in the office and the Kids room!
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