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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    12

    Suffering Upstairs

    I am not a HVAC professional, but would love some advice on what I can do about my upstairs of my home being too warm. I have a 5 year old home with soffit and ridge vents. I have an AC unit that does a great job on the main floor. I can not get my second story comfortable without "cracking up the AC" which costs a lot of money and makes the main floor too cold. I have spoken to some people about attic fans, whole house fans, second AC units, and "reflective" products.

    If anyone can help me enjoy both stories of my home I would be greatly appreciative.

    Thanks

    Eric

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    4,229
    Have a mini split installed upstairs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Howell, Michigan
    Posts
    16,176
    Moved into "Residential"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Buffalo NY
    Posts
    3,107

    Cool

    Look into having your system zoned and make sure your second floor and attic are well insulated.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    17,951
    You need to have your system looked at by a competent mechanical contractor.

    Is the a/c the right size for the home?
    Is the duct the correct size and the lay out correct?
    Are there dampers closed off, smashed duct etc?

    Once these questions have been answered, then you can get estimates on solving your problem.

    Its always going to be hotter on the second floor with one forced air system. The only way to even things out is to either zone it with damper motors and a zone board or add a second system.
    Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Zelienople, Pa
    Posts
    2,965
    Zoning is the only answer.
    How tall are you Private???!!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Mount Holly, NC
    Posts
    3,192
    ... any chance you can close off the upstairs level so the cold air doesn't flow down the stairs?
    aside from this, zoning is the best.
    make SURE there are no leaks of attic air into the home. radiant reflection can help. the biggest heat load on your body is radiant heat energy from the attic ceiling surface. get a heat calculation done, and a energy loss estimate.
    The TRUE highest cost system is the system not installed properly...
    The three big summer hearththrobs...
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    Dwane Johnson
    The A/C repairman

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Savannah, Ga/H.H. Island, S.C.
    Posts
    1,490
    In my opinion and exprience, I would add another unit for the upstairs. You could also go for the zone control but I have experienced a lot of motor damper failure.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    95
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Ridley View Post
    In my opinion and exprience, I would add another unit for the upstairs. You could also go for the zone control but I have experienced a lot of motor damper failure.
    I've installed many damper systems and have only replaced a few damper motors and most of those have failed due to sheetrock dust.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Savannah, Ga/H.H. Island, S.C.
    Posts
    1,490
    Maybe it was the brand of damper and zone control being used. April aire. But I live in south Georgia and the contractor I was working for at the time was installing a lot of these. I prob. Went back on 50% of them. Some due to improper installation but most were not. Needless to say, after that experience I am not a fan of zone systems on a two story home.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Buffalo NY
    Posts
    3,107

    Cool

    I saw their is a new zoning system that uses inflatable bladders as dampers inside each duct to make each room its own zone. The best part is they fish them right through your existing ducts so they do not have to open walls and ceilings to install them. I have not seen this system here in the East but it seems to be catching on out West. Maybe someone here can comment on it.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by coolwhip View Post
    Its always going to be hotter on the second floor with one forced air system. The only way to even things out is to either zone it with damper motors and a zone board or add a second system.
    I've been thinking about having a fan installed in the supply duct for the upstairs. A contractor had mentioned this to me. Is this a bad idea?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    3,188
    just to offer a different perspective....
    I look at houses from an efficiency standpoint, thus the different perspective of adding more hvac.
    sometimes the house is the problem.
    it is much easier and much much more affordable to condition
    a tight box (house) than a leaky one.
    in my hot humid climate, adding more a/c is not always necessary
    if sealing of the house is done.
    if second story is not the same size as first story, and the second story of the house has attic that shares walls with the second story rooms then insulating these walls is not enough.
    if it is 90 degrees outside, then it is 120 degrees in the attic.
    however builders do not think of this when building, and seldom
    insulate these shared walls well. usually batts of insulation, not well attached are the common installs.
    so these walls are exposed to higher temps than first story exterior walls. what we do is to insulate them well..even installing batts
    works when batts fit well and are installed properly. then sealing the walls for air infiltration and heat gain is the next step and by far the most important one.
    we use a foil faced foam sheathing board to go from top plate of wall to bottom plate of wall from the attic side. these boards are nailed in place with button cap nails and seams taped. not only does this keep attic temps from transfering into the conditioned areas, but also the foil facing into the attic space reflects the bulk of the heat back into the attic.
    sole plates (or bottom plates) of second story walls are not treated as exterior walls, these plates should also be caulked or sealed with sill seal. too often it does not happen.
    if the hot air is on all six sides of these rooms..top, bottom (between floors) and all sides it is next to impossible to condition them as air movement and heat transfer would only be offset by oversizing of hvac system. (here oversizing caused high RH & tons of problems along with high utility costs)
    making these rooms as air tight as possible is the key. sealing walls shared with attic with foam/foil sheathing boards, sealing leakages in ceiling of second story..recessed lights, oversized cuts at bath fans, and sealing hvac supply boxes will improve the air barrier in this area. floors are always a problem, first is the insulation between floors in contact with first story ceiling and second story floors? if not then it needs to be, adding insulation batts never works after the fact, because there are always voids.
    pumping in more insulation works better. then with the same foil foam sheating board you continue the sealing of the walls to the
    ceiling of the first story. cutting the foam boards to go inbetween floor joists, caulking them in place and again taping all seams.
    if you improve the air barrier then the thermal barrier (insulation) will perform as designed. otherwise air flows across, through and around insulation and allows heat to transfer in to these rooms.

    sometimes we throw a whole bunch of money at problems when less money is often the solution.

    tighten up the leakage, stop the transfer of attic temps...less a/c needed to condition these rooms.
    indoor air quality is improved because you are not longer filtering air leakage through insulation, comfort is achieved, and utility costs are reduced.
    my pov is more of a whole house or house as a system way of thinking. it is very expensive to try and cool a room to 80 degrees when it is surrounded by temps in excess of 100 degrees.
    reflective products such as radiant barriers perform well when correctly installed. it is much harder (read...expensive) to retrofit into an existing house. all of roof area has to be covered, ( with foil facing into attic space) if garage attaches to main roofline, it will have to be seperated from main roofline or RB installed in garage also. any area left uninstalled with RB will allow heat into attic
    and value of RB will be none.
    florida solar energy center has good unbiased info on RB's & installs.
    best of luck..
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

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