Why Is My House Hot Upstairs and Cold Downstairs?

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Last updated: October 25, 2023

If you have ever wondered ‘whys is my house hot upstairs and cold downstairs’, then you are certainly not alone. As the law of physics tells us, hot air rises, and often houses in their most natural state experience minor temperature discrepancies between the top and bottom floors. However, if you notice extreme differences between cold air and warm air, then there is probably a problem with your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (or HVAC for short). Fortunately, these issues can usually be rectified by a professional or even homeowners themselves if they wish to embark on a DIY job.

So let’s explore why the top floor might be warmer and how this problem can be fixed because none of us wants to experience unbearable heat during those warm summer months or ice-cold temperatures during winter.

If your heating cooling system isn’t working, you’ll want to consider the following:

Three Main Issues Usually Cause This:

The physics of hot air rising: This is one of the most common reasons why temperature discrepancies exist. When hot air rises, upstairs rooms become hotter.

A hot roof due to the heat from the sun: Since your upstairs ceilings are so close to the roof or the attic, they are bound to be hotter than the downstairs ceilings.

Leaking ductwork or an old furnace: The ducts take the cooler air from your central heating system and circulate it through the various rooms in your home. If they are broken or leaking, they’ll struggle to complete this task, and the air conditioner will struggle to distribute cool air effectively to all rooms and stories of a house. An old or faulty furnace or old air conditioning system can also cause circulation issues, and a professional will probably need to be called. At best the existing system can be repaired, however in certain instances, they might need to be replaced. Newer models are often more energy-efficient and can save you in the long run.

Why is the Upstairs of My House Hot?

If you are experiencing the problem of a hotter upstairs and a colder downstairs, it could be a simple act of nature; you know, hot air rising. More often than not, upstairs rooms might be a bit warmer because of this fact. However, if cool air cannot circulate through the ventilation system, it is probably an issue of faulty ducts, and your HVAC system might need a service.

Added to this, your attic is usually one of the hottest rooms in your house (thanks to its closer proximity to the sun as it is the highest point in your home). Since the upstairs rooms are closer to it, this will be the hottest zone in your home. As such, temperatures are often higher. In some instances, you can work towards improving the insulation in your attic to sort this problem out.

If the problem persists, you might need to consult a specialist to check out the air system and check for any air leaks or other issues. Understandably, when an HVAC system is broken, it can drain energy and rank up those energy bills. Therefore, fixing the problem is a much more energy-efficient solution.

Why is Downstairs of My House Cold?

There are several reasons for this including, leaking ducts, a lack of proper insulation in your attic, dampers that need adjusting, and the general law of physics in which hot air rises.

Ways to Cool Down Your Second Floor

Use Fans

It might be worth using some fans in those hotter, second or third floors in those super hot summer months. Using a fan in your room can offer additional coolness and ensure that the temperature does not reach unbearable heights.

Explore Zone Control

If your HVAC system is not operating well, you will experience temperature discrepancies between floors. You might need to consider zone control since the current system is not up to the job, and there might be several technical issues at play. Once you have got the engineer in, you can discuss this feature. This would allow you to enhance the temperature downstairs and keep it lower upstairs. Usually, these systems can work with your existing systems and ductwork, and thus you don’t have to replace the entire system (if it’s fixable).

How Do I Keep My Whole House Cool?

There are a few ways to keep your entire house cool; these include:

DIY Duct Check

The first thing you can do if you are experiencing temperature problems is to check for any leaks in your ducts. The ductwork is in the walls or under the floor and runs throughout your home to carry cooled or heated air throughout the house. However, if there are leaks in the system, the ducts will lose air before they circulate it to your rooms. This is a massive waste of energy and will render your home too hot or too cold, depending on the month.

You can check these ducts in your air conditioning system. Simply turn it on, and find the location of the ductwork. You might need to remove some insulation, and then you will need to run your hand along the joints to feel if you can feel any air escaping. If you can, you have a duct leak and will need to chat with a professional about repair options.

Change or Adjust the Dampers

Dampers are found within the ducts themselves, and they control the amount of air that enters each room. If they are out of balance, an adjustment might be necessary. To do this, you need to:

  1. Open registers or vents at your home. Locate the duct trunks in your furnace and open all of the dampers.
  2. If rooms are cooled, then you can close the dampers in that particular room. (Perpendicular to airflow)
  3. Check the temperature for the next few days and if certain rooms are still uncomfortable, adjust those special dampers at the furnace.
  4. If the problem persists, or you feel unsure of how to change the dampers, be sure to contact a professional.

Explore Attic Insulation

Attic insulation or lack thereof can also cause problems. By adding insulation to the ducts in your attic, you can better regulate the temperature.

You May Also Like: What is the Ideal Room Temperature?


If you are encountering problems with your heating and cooling system, it might be time to get the technicians in. They’ll offer practical solutions and get your system up and running fast.

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