Uneven heating is a common problem in the winter: Even when the first floor feels fine, your top floor rooms are much colder than downstairs. It’s especially common in split-level homes or three-story houses.
You can try raising the thermostat until your bedrooms are warm enough. But, that creates more problems. First, your first floor will be too hot because you only have one thermostat for the entire house.
It’s also not energy efficient because you’re overheating different parts of the house. So, you’re using more gas, oil, or electricity than necessary. That means even higher energy bills in the winter.
You’ll also put excess wear and tear on your heating and cooling system. If it’s working so hard that one part of the house is too hot, then the heating system is doing more work — and working longer — than it’s designed to do. That leads to breakdowns and needing a new system years before you should have to replace it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to fix this problem. And, depending on what’s happening precisely in your home, you can find a solution that’s perfect for your exact situation. But to find the best one, you need to know what’s causing the problem in your home.
So, we’ll start this article by outlining the three most common causes for your cold rooms upstairs. There’s usually a combination of all three happening. But, it’s good to figure out your home’s unique needs. After that, we’ll go through some solutions to choose from.
And, if you have any questions or want to make your home in Hanover, PA — or anywhere in South Central Pennsylvania — more comfortable in the winter, click below or call Air Comfort Technologies. Starting with a free consultation, we’re happy to help keep you warm this winter!
Three Reasons Your Upstairs Rooms Are Cold In The Winter
Three main factors make the upstairs rooms in many homes colder than the downstairs in the winter:
- Heat Rises And Escapes
- Thermostat Placement
- Weak Air Circulation
Heat Rises And Escapes
We’ve all heard that heat rises. Well, that’s only somewhat true. More specifically, it’s hot air that goes up. So, why do we end up with what feels like cool air on the top floor?
The problem is that the hot air doesn’t stop rising when it reaches the bedrooms. After that, it finds any path it can outside. That’s because heat naturally moves toward cold spots, and in the winter, all the cold is outside. So, any draft, crack, or opening in your walls, windows, or roof will let the warm air out of the house.
So hot air rises in your home then escapes when it reaches the roof. So why is your downstairs warm enough? The answer is simple: That’s where you’ll find the thermostat.
Your gauge for the house is likely in the living room or dining room. So, the heater turns on as soon as that spot gets too chilly. But, it never takes the second floor into account. Instead, the furnace shuts off once the first floor reaches the temperature you want. The upstairs stays too cold.
Weaker Air Circulation
Finally, your second-floor or third-floor rooms may not get enough warm air, no matter what. This is especially a problem with older homes that have outdated ductwork. But, we also see it in larger new homes for different reasons.
Either way, here’s the fundamental problem: The furnace in your basement pushes warm air into your ductwork, and that air spreads to each room. But, the further you get from the furnace, the weaker the pressure. It loses force naturally as it travels, and then the air escapes through all those other vents.
By the time you get to the top floor, the circulation is weak. This is especially a problem with older homes when the older ductwork has leaks or splits. With new homes, you lose a lot of pressure with a 90-degree turn coming out of the furnace. Then, longer duct runs in larger homes lose pressure.
Three Ways To Heat An Upstairs That’s Too Cold In The Winter
Here are three ways to keep your upstairs rooms warm in the winter:
- Baseboard Heaters
- Dual Furnace
- Ductless Mini-Split
These solutions vary in cost and also work differently from one another. So, you can consider your budget and which rooms need what kind of treatment.
Baseboard heaters are suitable for when you have one, maybe two rooms that are too cold upstairs. They’re not very expensive, and they’re easy to install. And, since each one works independently, each room gets the exact treatment they need.
However, you’ll end up paying much more in the long run. Baseboard heaters may be many things, but they are not energy efficient. Expect big hikes on your energy bills. You’ll also have to rearrange furniture to make sure they have enough clearance.
For a long time, getting a second furnace was one of the best ways to really make a second or third floor comfortable in a larger home. With a heater on the top floor, you get a second thermostat just for that system and part of the house. And, you don’t worry about losing pressure on the top floor because the furnace is too far away.
The downside here is that it’s expensive to install. You’re looking at the cost of another furnace, plus any rerouting you need for the ductwork. And, while you won’t double the amount of heat you’re producing, there’s still a significant uptick in energy usage.
We often recommend a ductless mini-split as the best solution for top floors that are too cold in the winter. They combine the power of a furnace with the customization of a zoned solution like baseboard heaters. And they use a fraction of the energy that other HVAC systems require.
With a mini-split, you can put one air handler in each room. They mount on the wall and attach to a heat pump outside. The two are connected by a few lines that run through the walls without taking up extra space.
The downside here? Upfront cost. A single-zone system (one air handler, one heat pump) is more than $3,000. But, you’ll save money in the long run with much lower energy bills and other offers. And, the same system offers excellent air conditioning in the summer.
Mini-Split And Heater Installation In Hanover, PA
If you’d like to learn more about mini-splits or upgrading the heater in your Hanover, PA home, call or email us here at Air Comfort Technologies! We have a reputation for excellent work across South Central Pennsylvania. Starting with a free consultation, we’ll help you make your home more comfortable.