How To Get Hot Air From Upstairs To Downstairs (I Can’t Sleep!!)

During the summer, it can be difficult to get the upstairs of your house to cool. Of course, most people understand that hot air rises; however, that doesn’t mean you simply have to deal with it. There are ways you can get the upstairs of your home to cool down, as long as you are willing to think a little bit and get more creative.

If the upstairs area of your house is too hot, it can be difficult for you to sleep at night. You might get frustrated with how much you sweat through your sheets, and you may wake up in the morning with a headache because you never get enough sleep. This can have a significant impact on your quality of life, and you might be scrambling, looking for a solution.

Fortunately, there are ways for you to get the second story of your house to cool down. The first thing you need to do is figure out why the upstairs area of your house is so hot. Then, you can go to work brainstorming solutions that might be able to help you address this problem.

Why Is Your Second Floor So Hot?

First, it is important to understand why the second floor of your house is so hot. Keep in mind that there might be multiple reasons why the upstairs area of your home is warming up. Houses are built differently, and you need to figure out why your house is so hot before you can fix the problem.

A few common reasons why the second story of your house is hot include:

Physics

First, it is important to get the obvious answer out of the way. Heat rises. No matter what time of year it is, the second story of your house is probably going to feel warmer than the first story. This is because hot air rises to the top, which means it goes upstairs.

Even if your air conditioner is working overtime, the warmest air in your house is still going to drift to the top story. If you have a third story in your house, it is probably going to be even hotter than the second story. There is no way to get around physics, but there are ways to deal with this issue.

Your Roof

Thermal imaging of the outside of a house
Thermal imaging of the outside of a house

Second, there is a chance that your roof is playing a role in this problem as well. Unless you have a lot of trees hanging over your house, your roof is probably going to contribute to your heating problem. Your roof is probably made out of a dark, heavy material. This means that your roof is probably absorbing heat from the sun.

When the roof gets hot, a lot of the heat seeps into your attic. Then, the heat settles in your attic, where it heats up your top floor. If you do not have a lot of insulation in this area, you are probably going to feel significantly hotter upstairs.

Poor Ductwork

New air conditioner vents in new home construction
New air conditioner vents in new home construction

If you have central air conditioning in your home, you need to make sure the quality of your ductwork is high. If you do not have great ductwork in your home, there could be a lot of leaks taking place in your air conditioner. This is going to drive up your utility expenses, and it could be the reason why you are having a difficult time getting the upper story of your house to cool off.

There are a lot of homes that do not have central air conditioning, so this is not necessarily going to be a problem for everyone. Even though it is possible for central air to cool off the second story of your home, you also need to make sure it is not leaking. This is why you should get your air conditioner inspected at least once per year.

Not Enough Zones

Next, it is also possible that you do not have enough zones for your HVAC unit. There are lots of houses that are completely fine with only one HVAC unit, even if they have two stories; however, if you have a larger home, you may want to have multiple HVAC units to cool off separate areas.

If you only have one HVAC system for the home, and the home has more than 6,000 square feet, it is going to be difficult for a single air conditioner to cool off the entire house. You may want to use a system that can break the house up into multiple zones, allowing you to distribute your air conditioning accordingly. That way, you can direct more air to the top story.

Old Air Conditioner

Speaking of your air conditioner, it is possible you may have an old unit. If your air conditioner is old, it will have a difficult time cooling off a large house, particularly if the second story is too warm. You should expect to get at least 10 years out of your air conditioner, and you should probably get closer to 15.

Unfortunately, old air conditioners are not that efficient, so an air conditioner that is at the end of its life is going to have a difficult time cooling off your house. If you have been in your house for close to 20 years, and you are frustrated with the temperature of your second story, you may need to think about getting a new air conditioner.

Poor Insulation

You should also take a closer look at the quality of your insulation. You need to have good insulation if you want the air conditioner to keep the cold air in your house. In particular, you should take a look at the quality of the insulation in your attic. If you do not have great insulation in this area, your air conditioning is going to pass directly to the attic, leaking to the outside.

If it has been a while since you took a closer look at your insulation, you may want to reach out to a professional who can help you. There might be ways you can improve the quality of your insulation and cool off the second story of your house.

These are just a few of the many reasons why your second story might be hot. Now, how can you fix the situation?

How Can You Cool Off the Second Floor?

Second floor landing features skylight over the stairs
Second floor landing features skylight over the stairs

So, what are a few steps you can take if you would like to cool off the second story of your house? There are a few important steps you can take. These include:

Think About the Windows

The first thing you need to do is think about your windows. Your windows can be both a blessing and a curse. During the day, it is important for you to keep the windows closed. It is probably going to be a lot hotter outside than it is inside, and you do not want your air conditioning to be leaking to the outside world.

Then, you need to think carefully about your windows at night as well. How cold does it get outside during the night? If the temperature drops significantly during the night, then you may want to open the windows to cool off your second story. On the other hand, if it is still hot outside at night, then you need to keep the windows closed.

You may need to seal your windows as well. If there are any gaps between your windows and the outside world, you need to seal them to reduce your air conditioning loss. This can help you save money on your utility bills.

Block Out the Sun

Next, you should try to block out the sun. You may be surprised at just how much heat your windows absorb during the day. This heat can be transferred to the inside of your second story, increasing the temperature upstairs.

There are plenty of ways you can block the sun. For example, you may want to use energy-efficient blinds. Or, you may want to use a specific film (that link goes to HomeDepot’s UV products) that is designed to block out UV radiation. All of this can increase the energy efficiency of your home, helping you save money on your utility bills while also keeping your second-story cool.

Improve Your Insulation

Insulation in a Wall
Insulation under a floor

You should also take a closer look at the quality of the insulation you have in your home. If your home was built several decades ago, there is a good chance the quality of insulation has improved since that time. It might be time to add more insulation, particularly where air conditioning leaks from your house.

For example, you may want to add insulation around the crawl space that leads to your attic. This is a common area where homeowners lose air conditioning, and you can seal this location to help you save money on your utility bills and keep your house cool. Think about other locations where insulation might be improved.

Repair Your Ductwork

A boarded out loft space with a whole cut for foil ventilation pipework ducting
A boarded out loft space with a whole cut for foil ventilation pipework ducting

It is also time for you to take a closer look at the quality of your ductwork. You may be leaking air conditioning from your ductwork, and you can fix this issue if you seal it appropriately.

Even though you might think this is something you can do on your own, it is better to reach out to a professional who can help you. If you don’t have a lot of experience working with your ductwork, you could unintentionally make the problem worse. Furthermore, a professional will have the equipment necessary to seal your ductwork appropriately, helping you save money on your air conditioning bills.

Turn Off the Lights and Appliances

If it is hot outside, there’s a chance the sun is shining. Therefore, consider turning off your lights and appliances when you don’t need them. When you run your lights, they emit a certain amount of heat – especially older bulbs that are not LED. One of the easiest ways to reduce the heat in the second story of your house is to turn off the lights.

The same is true of your appliances. You should turn off your appliances when you are not using them. Your televisions, oven, stove, and microwave all emit heat when you use them. If you want to reduce the amount of heat flowing through your second story, turn off your lights and appliances.

Rotate the Air Filters

You need to change your air filters regularly. If you are frustrated with the temperature on the second story of your home, it is time to take a closer look at the air filters. Your air filters are responsible for removing dust and debris from the air, making sure you have clean air in your house. If your air filters are clogged, your air conditioner has to work harder to pull air into it and push air into your house.

In general, you should rotate your air filters once per year. If you haven’t changed your filters in a while, now is the time to do so. This could be the reason why your air conditioner is having a difficult time cooling off your house.

Use Ceiling Fans

If you don’t have ceiling fans on the second story, you should invest in them. A lot of people believe ceiling fans don’t work because they simply circulate warm air. In reality, the goal of ceiling fans is to help you generate a wind chill in your house.

If the air is moving through your second story, you will generate an artificial wind chill that will help your body feel cool. There are even some ceiling fans that come with a remote control, so you don’t have to worry about getting up in the middle of the night to adjust the speed of the ceiling fan. Furthermore, ceiling fans are not that expensive, so consider getting a few for your second story.

Get a New AC Unit

Someone repairing an AC compressor on a table
Someone installing an AC unit

Finally, you may want to think about getting a new air conditioner as well. It can be very expensive to replace your HVAC unit, but there may be a situation when this is necessary. Take a look at the lifespan of your air conditioner. There is usually a tag on the back of it you can use to look up the requisite information.

Then, if it is time to get a new air conditioner, take a look at an energy-efficient unit. These units typically do a better job of cooling off the second story of your house, and you may be able to save money on your utility bills. Even though it can be costly to replace the HVAC unit, you should view this as an investment.