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5 Remedies for Solving Uneven Home Cooling Issues

by Stewart Unsdorfer

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If your multi-story home suffers from uneven home cooling, you’re not alone. When you invest in central air conditioning, it's expected that the system should cool the entirety of your home with no problem. But, over time, various factors in your home, including system age, ductwork problems and even dirty filters can reduce a system's ability to cool all parts of your home evenly.

5 Ways to Solve Uneven Home Cooling 

If you turn on your central air this spring and find that it cools well downstairs, but feels like a sauna upstairs, you’ll realize that something isn’t right. Below, we explain five simple ways to address the problem of uneven home cooling in your home. 

1. Use Your Air Vents to Control and Redirect Air

Look around to see if you have any blocked or dirty vents. Your vents and your registers can contribute to uneven cooling if they’re blocked by furniture or anything else. This can also happen if dust and debris builds up on them. You can vacuum them with an attachment to loosen and remove the debris.

You can also redirect air to certain areas by partially (but not fully) closing some vents on the first floor. This way, more air will redirect to the second floor and beyond. This will help alleviate pressure build up in the system that would be caused if you were to fully close first floor vents.  

2. Switch the Fan from "Auto" to "On"

Look at your thermostat. You can toggle the fan switch between "auto" and "on." Some modern thermostats have a few more fan control settings as well. If you have uneven home cooling, try turning the switch to the "on" position rather than the "auto" setting. Here's why:

  • When in the "on" position, your system’s fan stays on and circulates air, even after the system cooling cycle goes off. This serves to continually circulate the air in your home to help even out temperatures between the first and second floors. 
  • When in "auto" position, the fan runs only when there is a call for cooling and the outdoor unit is on and actively cooling the home.

Depending on the type of furnace blower you have, running the fan will add a little to your electricity use, between $5 - $20 per month. 

3. Have Your Air Ducts Checked for Air Leaks

When there’s an air leak present within your duct system, the air meant for a specific destination bleeds off before it can arrive. These leaks, holes and tears in your ducts will definitely make your central air system try to work harder to compensate for the missing air. That, in turn, can lead to even more problems. Have a professional inspect your ducts if you suspect that leaks are contributing to the uneven cooling around your home. 

4. Add More Insulation in the Attic

Your attic’s insulation serves the dual purpose of keeping your cool air in and the hot outside air out. If you lack the proper amount or quality of insulation, you may not be getting the full benefit and comfort of your valuable cool air. 

Meanwhile, hot air will remain behind. Situations like this can create a noticeable difference between the upstairs and downstairs of a home. Make sure you have the proper amount of insulation in your attic. Also, make sure that the insulation has the proper R-Value for your type of home and region.

5. Control Different Areas with a Zoning System

While a zoning system is a larger investment, it can be one of the most efficient ways to deal with uneven cooling. These systems allow you to directly control the temperature in individual areas or floors. Compare this with having one thermostat controlling cooling in the whole house.

There are many configurations a professional HVAC contractor can use to set up customized zones in your home. The number of zones recommended will depend on your current heating and cooling situation and the type, size and layout of your home. In general, a zoned system is probably the best option for those that want absolute control over their cooling as the summer starts to come around. Read here for more benefits of a zoning system. 

Can Your A/C System Deliver Even Comfort?

Uneven home cooling is usually indicative of a problem. You can try some of the solutions above on your own, and others, like installing a zoning system, should be left to professionals. If all else fails, you may come to the conclusion that it's time for a replacement system. If your central air conditioning system is more than 10-12 years old, it may be losing efficiency and causing more problems than it's worth.

Newer, high-efficiency units can easily solve the problems of uneven cooling when properly sized and installed. Talking to a professional can help you make your decision about keeping or replacing your system. Get more tips on keeping your home comfortable in our free e-book below. 

Home Comfort Guide

Topics: Central Air Conditioning, Thermostats, Cooling Tips

blog author

Stewart Unsdorfer

Stewart has been in the HVAC business for more than 25 years. He is a state licensed heating and A/C contractor, as well as being certified in design, fabrication, layout and installation of forced air heating / cooling systems.

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