New homeowner with warm upstairs

Old 08-08-17, 08:31 AM
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New homeowner with warm upstairs

Just bought my 1st house last month and getting moved in and wanted to see what people had for ideas.

I have a 3 floor house (finished basement, main level, and an upstairs). Vents are closed in the basement and it stays comfortable. Main level is also comfortable, that's where the thermostat is at. But the upstairs gets about 10 degrees warmer and I'm trying to seek out options to keep it cooler without just running an additional AC unit. (Which I do have if someone is using the guest room, but I'm not going to run that everyday - I want to try to be somewhat green.)

I've tried using the fan on the on setting, it makes a slight difference but that is hardly the green option. Not only does that use the fan power more, it's going to inevitably make the central run more often.

One thing I was thinking of, and I haven't heard of this existing, is there most be some sort of smart contraption that will sense when the upstairs is warmer than outside (aka almost every night) and be able to dissipate the extra heat that way. Sure, I could open a window every night up there, but then I'm going to be letting out any of the central that comes through the vents up there.

If I can ensure the upstairs gets down to about 70 or less (which it does most nights in the Midwest) then the AC probably has a shot of keeping it comfortable up there. But when that heat just piles up day after day then I'm not sure what else to do except running the air more.

What about an evaporative A/C unit? Is this an ideal situation for this? They use less power (which is green) and with a window open then the heat that gets up there can escape. I could probably just close the vents from my central air unit and the heat that creeps up there (no door between any of the levels) would be eradicated.

Thanks for your advice.
Old 08-08-17, 09:08 AM
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So you have the typ situation when a house is built without a multi zone duct system, that would maybe cost an additional $1000 but now you have to suffer with the heat/cool imbalance.

You can play with the ducts to push more cool air up in the summer but with the thermostat on the first floor you will simply not be able to control the temps with much precision.

Adding a separate unit, like a mini split, upstairs is probably the best option since it will operate independent of the main unit but your still looking at $2000.
Old 08-08-17, 09:37 AM
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Ductless split would be the green option
Old 08-08-17, 10:17 AM
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Evaporative only works well where low humidity, AZ comes to mind and when I lived there they worked well. Don't think it will work in your area but don't know what your humidity is.
Old 08-08-17, 11:59 AM
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Apparently I got a double post. Is there a moderator or something that can merge them? Thank you

Thanks for the tips. House was built in the 1950's. Not sure if the vents are from that time or if they were added afterwards, but you're right. We're at where we're at now.

I'm also a little disappointed that there really isn't any servicable attic - but I knew this going in, definitely not a deal breaker. A very small cutout on one of the corners, so I have no way of looking at most of the insulation to see if maybe it needs redone or anything without either taking the roof out or redoing a bunch of drywall. Neither of which will be happening.
Old 08-10-17, 11:34 AM
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Threads merged.

It's possible to close too many registers and put undue stress on the system but I would think closing a couple on the main level would be in order. My house is similar in structure to yours and I close one of the 4 vents on the middle floor in the summer.
Old 08-10-17, 05:07 PM
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You have a split level home. Your hands are really tied as far as the existing system.
I have the same.

The problem is the ductwork was installed for a heating system. The registers and returns are low in the wall. For A/C the registers and returns need to be high in the walls. The systems were also designed to put out more air on the lower floors as the warm air rises to the second floor.

Even zoning the system will only partially and minimally help.

To improve the system.... you can get away with the registers being low but you will need to add an upper return vent to each existing lower one on the second floor. In the summer you close the lower ones and open the upper ones. This draws the heat out of rooms. Change them to the opposite for the winter.

Increasing insulation usually yields an improvement.... especially on a 1950's home.

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