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Uneven cooling is a common problem with central air conditioning in multi-story homes. In houses with more than one floor, the basement or downstairs rooms may be cooler and upstairs levels may be warmer. One assumption is that heat rises, causing temperature differences. However, there are causes of uneven home cooling that can be solved by addressing:

  • The age of your central air conditioner or AC unit
  • A leak in an air duct
  • Blocked air vents
  • Short-cycling, which prevents cool air from reaching every room
  • A lack of zone control by the thermostat or duct dampeners
  • Clogged air filters, which can block airflow

These causes of uneven cooling can reduce comfort and efficiency, but you can take the following steps with your HVAC system to solve the problem:

Adjust & Clean Air Vents

Dust and debris can clog up air vents and disrupt circulation. Using a vacuum attachment for cleaning can improve cooling efficiency. Also, check HVAC filters regularly and unclog/change them as necessary. Furniture placed near air vents can impede air flow, but moving it away can fix this issue. You can also adjust vents to redirect air to other areas; for example, if you partially close some vents on the first floor, more conditioned air can reach higher floors.

Check for Air Ducts & Air Leaks

Schedule an air duct inspection by an HVAC contractor. A professional can clean ductwork and check for common problems such as an air leak caused by a hole or tear. Air leakage causes your AC system to work harder, which puts excess strain on components, and can prevent air from reaching certain rooms; without proper ventilation, they remain hotter than other areas.

Change Thermostat Settings

When you change the fan setting to “on”, the system fan continuously circulates air, even in-between cooling cycles. As a result, you may experience more even temperatures between the 1st and 2nd floors. In “auto” mode, the fan runs only during the cooling cycle, which reduces air circulation.

Consider Additional Insulation

Insulation may not seem like it has much to do with air conditioning, but it affects how comfortable your home is. It is most effective in the attic, which is typically the highest part of a house and where warm air can easily escape. A well-insulated attic keeps cool air in and hot air outside. But it must have the proper amount and type of insulation, which is classified by its R-value, or resistance to heat flow (higher R-values are more suited for cold climates).

Consider Investing in a Zoning System

A zoning system allows you to divide your home into different zones, which can be specific rooms or upstairs or downstairs areas, to control the temperature. It provides more precise control over heating/cooling than a single thermostat for an entire home. The right system depends on various factors, including the size, layout, and type of home you live in. A technician can help determine the best configuration and set up customized zones for you, so there is no guesswork. But if you’re still experiencing uneven cooling and have a zoning system, it may be the best place to look for technical issues.

Contact The AC Hero

At The AC Hero, we specialize in professional solutions to uneven cooling and other air conditioning system problems. Our business is open during the coronavirus pandemic, so Dallas/Fort Worth residents and businesses can depend on us for emergency repair and installation services. We’re currently offering no contact service and following social distancing guidelines to protect our customers and technicians. To schedule service, contact us online or call us directly at 817-557-7586.

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