Is the downstairs of your home comfortable while the upstairs is still sweltering hot? This is a common problem, and luckily, it can usually be addressed with a simple fix or two. If you'd like your upstairs to be cool instead of feeling like a sweat lodge, try these tactics to encourage your home to cool more evenly.
Close the vents downstairs.
A good first tactic to try is closing the air vents on your lower level. This will direct more of the cold air upstairs, where it's really needed. If you do not have vents that close, consider replacing them with vents that do close. Standard vents are typically inexpensive, and this quick replacement will mean a much more comfortable home. All you have to do is unscrew the current vent, take it to the hardware store to ensure you buy the correct size, and screw the new vent into the wall.
Don't worry about your downstairs getting too warm with this method. Since hot air rises, your downstairs will stay comfortable even if all of the cold air is initially directed upstairs.
Make sure any doors between floors of the home are closed.
If you have doors between your upstairs and downstairs, or between the downstairs and the basement, ensure that they are closed. Otherwise, all of the hot air will keep climbing upstairs, and the cold air will keep sinking downward.
If you do not have doors between the levels of your home, this might be the source of your problems. Consider installing simple, retractable doors that anchor to the door frame or opposing walls and can be pulled shut when your air conditioning is in use. They'll keep all of the cold air from sinking downstairs.
Another option is to simply hang thick, insulating curtains across the door frames between your floors. This may not look attractive, but it will inhibit the upward flow of hot air.
Keep the fan running constantly.
Sometimes, keeping the blower running continually will keep your upstairs cooler. Most thermostats have two fan settings: on and auto. Set the knob to the "on" setting; this will cause the fan to run continually, whether or not the air is currently being cooled. Constantly circulating the air through the home in this manner will keep the upstairs and downstairs air more evenly mixed and more consistent in temperature.
Note that running the blower continually will take a considerable amount of electricity. You may want to just turn the blower to "on" in the evening when you're sleeping upstairs, and leave in on "auto" during the day if you're mostly downstairs or out of the home.
Turn the fan up.
It's possible that your fan is simply not strong enough to force the cold air all of the way up to the top floor. Luckily, all you have to do to fix this problem is turn up the blower speed. Your furnace's owner's manual will likely tell you how to do this. Generally, the process involves disconnecting and reconnecting wires, so if you're uncomfortable doing this, contact your HVAC specialist to do it for you. With the blower speed increased, more of the cold air should make it to the top floor of your home.
You may have to do a little trial and error to see which of these methods work best for you. In most cases, you'll want to combine methods to cool your upstairs down more effectively. If your upstairs is still not getting colder after trying all four of these solutions, contact an HVAC specialist from a company like Redlands Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning. Your ductwork may need to be adjusted to accommodate more air flow, or your air conditioner may not be cooling properly and may be in need of repairs.