How to Keep Your Upstairs Cool

Cooling the upstairs of a house is a challenge for a lot of people.

Even with the central air conditioner running on full blast, it seems like the top level of a home never gets as cold as the rest of the house.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can try.

If you want to know how to keep upstairs cool—and not blazing hot—during the summer, this guide can help.

Why Is My Second Floor Hot?

Before we get into the cooling tips, it’s a good idea for you to understand what may be the root cause of your air conditioning problems.

There are several possible reasons why you might be having difficulty cooling the second floor of your home, all of which require specific treatment to get rid of the heat.

Here are the main reasons why the upstairs is too hot:

Poor HVAC Maintenance

HVAC units are complex systems and require routine maintenance to continue working properly.

Failure to have these systems inspected each year can lead to more poor performance and more expensive repairs down the road.

HVAC System Is Too Old

Apart from inadequate maintenance, another reason why your upstairs isn’t cool enough is that your HVAC system might just be too old to perform as well as it used to.

Air conditioners, like all appliances, don’t last forever. Usually, you can expect an air-cooling device to last between 10 to 15 years before major parts have to be replaced.

Once that period of time has elapsed, the quality of your air conditioner’s performance will begin to drop.

The problem tends to be intensified when your cooling unit is located on the first floor. In such a scenario where your air conditioner is too old, it can make the task of cooling the upstairs in your house even more challenging.

Your Home Is Too Humid

During particularly hot periods of the year, you might notice high levels of humidity indoors.

Humidity is a major factor in how well your air conditioner works because it can put the system under additional stress, forcing it to work even harder to cool your home.

As you can imagine, if you have a two-story home, your air conditioner might be put under excessive strain to cool both floors equally; thus causing one to suffer, which usually ends up being the upstairs of your home.

Bad Ductwork

The ductwork in your home might be faulty. Ducts are what deliver cold air throughout your home.

If the ducts are too large or have leaks, the various areas of your house will not get the right amount of air to keep it cool.

Hot Roof

An often overlooked issue for causing hotter rooms upstairs is how your roof is absorbing heat.

If your roof is not deflecting the sun’s rays every well, it will absorb the sun’s heat. As the heat builds up inside your attic, it can cause the top floor of your house to feel much hotter and make your HVAC system work harder.

Exploring Possible Solutions

As you can see, there are several possible reasons why the upstairs feels much hotter than the lower levels of your house.

Fortunately, there are some things you can implement to help fix your heating issues.

Here’s what you should do in order to keep upstairs cool:

1. Have Your HVAC System Serviced

Sometimes, the answer for how to keep upstairs cool is as simple as calling an HVAC technician to come out and service the system.

If your air conditioning unit isn’t functioning well because it hasn’t been properly maintained, a thorough maintenance treatment is all it might take for the appliance to begin working well again.

2. Try a Portable or Window Air Conditioner

Even with a properly serviced HVAC system, sometimes the heat upstairs can’t be cured by a central air conditioner alone.

A simple fix is to supplement that system with a portable or window air conditioner that gives you just enough cooling without breaking the bank.

The trick here is to position one of these units so that the air they deliver can flow freely around the upstairs.

The best location for a portable or window air conditioner is at a window in the hallway. The next best spot is in a room that has a doorway directly across from the window. If you leave the door open, the air can flow out of the room and into other rooms upstairs.

You may already be familiar with window air conditioners, which are AC units that sit inside a window sill. You can find the cheapest, best window AC units for upstairs purposes by reading this post: Top Window Air Conditioner Reviews.

Not many people are familiar with portable air conditioners, which are freestanding units that use a hose to connect to a window for venting hot air.

The advantage of portable AC units is that they don’t have any parts hanging out of the window and can easily be moved to different rooms.

To find out more about this option, check out this post: Top Portable Air Conditioner Reviews.

3. Use Fans

Strategically placing fans throughout your home is one of the best ways to help keep the upstairs of your house cool.

By installing ceiling fans or using floor fans, you can help to better distribute the cold air that comes from your air conditioner.

Additionally, by aiding your central air conditioner, fans lessen the workload of your HVAC system, thus reducing the helping to lengthen its lifespan.

4. Make Sure That Your Attic Is Well Insulated

If you have an attic, it’s important to insulate it at an R-value of at least 30.

R-Value is a unit of measurement which dictates a unit’s resistance to thermal energy. The higher the number, the more resilient the material is to heat.

The recommended level for most attics is to insulate to R-38 (or about 10 to 14 inches), depending on insulation type.

5. Fight Humidity

If humidity is the chief agent behind your second floor not being cool enough, you should look into purchasing a dehumidifier.

These appliances draw excess moisture out of a room and collect it into a bucket for disposal or routed into a drain.

Just like ceiling and floor fans, you should use dehumidifiers in conjunction with your cooling devices for maximum functionality.

With less moisture in your home, you’ll find that your air conditioner will have an easier time cooling down the second floor of your home.

6. Repair Faulty Ductwork

If it’s determined that your ductwork is an issue, you should look into getting it fixed as soon as possible.

Repairing leaks, narrowing ducts that are too large, and giving them a thorough cleaning every few years will definitely make a huge difference in how the upstairs of your home regulates cool air.

Still Not Cool Enough?

If you try the tips above and the upstairs of your home just isn’t getting to your desired temperature, the next step would be to call in a professional HVAC technician.

A professional can better help you identify why you’re having difficulty cooling the second floor of your home.

Getting a second opinion from an expert will either confirm what you believe to be the cooling problem that you’re having or will point to another culprit that you may not have even considered.

After the expert evaluates your home, he or she may recommend a different method of treating your home that may bring you some relief in cooling the upstairs.

One solution may be to add a ductless mini split air conditioner to the top floor. This system consists of two parts: a compressor that’s located outside and an evaporator (air cooler) that’s mounted indoors. It’s similar to a mini central air conditioning unit, but without the need for ductwork.

Ductless air conditioners can spot cool specific areas of your home without the need for windows either.

To find out more about how those systems work and the benefits they offer, take a look at our page on the best ductless mini split units.

We hope that these strategies have helped you learn how to keep upstairs cool by getting rid of the heat. By following this guide, you should experience a noticeable difference in temperature of the second floor of your home.