Since hot air rises, many Harford County homeowners just assume they have to live with a second story that’s hotter than the first floor. But there are several factors that can amplify that heat factor and make upstairs temperatures hotter than they need to be. A close examination of your HVAC system could help you figure out this uncomfortable (and often expensive) summertime problem.
5 Reasons for a Hot Second Story
Here are some HVAC things to consider when evaluating a high upstairs temperature.
The Age of Your Air Conditioner
The average lifespan of a central AC unit is 15 to 20 years, and your system loses efficiency with each year of use. If your air conditioner isn’t able to keep up with the demands of a sweltering second story, it’s time to replace it. Even if your AC is closer to the 10 year mark and hasn’t been maintained properly, there could be a broken part that’s causing your system to have trouble working efficiently. An inspection by a One Hour technician will tell you.
Leaky Ductwork, or Ductwork in an Unconditioned Attic
The farther your air conditioner is from your second floor, the more ductwork it has to pass through to get there. If there are cracks or gaps in that ductwork, cool air is leaking out before it reaches those upstairs rooms. You can try to inspect some portions of exposed ductwork in your basement and attic and seal them with mastic, but chances are there are leaks within your walls that you can’t see. A licensed Bel Air HVAC technician can conduct a pressure test on your duct network, and if they find significant leaks, that may be the reason the second-story is so stuffy. We can use Aeroseal to seal those leaks from inside your ducts, requiring no need for holes in your walls.
You may also have ductwork that runs through a hot, underinsulated attic. So even if your AC is working fine, it’s pushing that cool air up through a 100+ degree attic before coming back and blowing out into your upstairs room. There’s no way that air will feel cool enough to keep everyone comfortable. Which leads us to our next topic.
An Insufficiently Insulated Attic
Your roof soaks up the sunshine, and the heated air caused by that will go straight into your attic and then into your upstairs ceilings if there’s not enough insulation. Insulation is measured in R-values, with higher R-values providing more thermal resistance. If you’re not sure what type of insulation you have, check inside your attic. If the attic floor is insulated with batts, you should be able to read all the information you need on the paper backing. If you see loose-fill insulation, consult the Energy Department’s insulation identification guide to try to determine the type. If you can see joists in the attic floor, you could definitely use more insulation on top of what you already have. 15-16 inches is a good target number for Harford County homes.
A Hot Roof
Some new roofing materials are designed to reflect heat, and there are even coatings that make a roof more heat reflective. So if you’re anywhere close to replacing your roof, take a good look at these materials to identify which ones meet high energy efficiency standards.
The Level of Shade Around Your Home
If you don’t have any trees that reach your second story, or there’s no shade on the sunny side of your house, your rooms are sure to get hotter. Since it’s not possible to plant huge trees around your home, the next best thing is to upgrade your upstairs window treatments with reflective shades or blackout curtains. Keep them closed during the day when the sun is beating in, and you’ll enjoy more comfortable temperatures until the sun goes down.
Call One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning in Aberdeen to Improve Your Comfort this Summer
All the factors we mentioned may sound overwhelming to a non-HVAC expert. But don’t worry….we can inspect your cooling system, install a new air conditioner, examine your ductwork and insulation, and tell you everything you need to know about how to make your upstairs more comfortable. Just give us a call!