Hot house!

Attic Ventilation and Other Cool Solutions

So lately I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls from homeowners that are complaining about the top of their house being warmer than the floors below, sometimes as much as 12 degrees  Common complaints are that ‘it’s too hot to sleep upstairs’, ‘it’s really uncomfortable on the top floor’, and ‘I don’t know what the problem is’, and of course, ‘can you fix it?’
There are 2 main factors that make the top floor hot:
1) The stack effect; heat rises to the top of the house and accumulates there.
2) There is a lack of proper attic ventilation and the accumulated heat saturates the insulation and radiates down into the rooms of the top floor.
3) The attic is not isolated from the house and hot air can travel into the walls and floors of the house and create an oven effect. This is especially prevalent in Cape Cods.
The good news! It can be repaired. Determining what is not working and fixing the problem so the cooling system is not getting over loaded and can do it’s job.
So starting with the basics:

  • Are the ducts leaking and not able to deliver sufficient air to the top floor?
  • Is the return duct high enough to be able to draw the heat from the top of the house?
  • Is the return duct drawing enough air? Sometimes the basement and first floor return registers are pulling more air than the top floor return so that hot air is not being delivered back to the AC unit to be reconditioned.
  • Are all the supply ducts delivering enough air?
  • Is the attic sufficiently ventilated? Specifically are there enough eave or soffit vents feeding replacement air into the attic?
  • Can the hot air escape either via a ridge vent, rooftop fan or gable end fan?
  • Is the attic isolated from the house? Tops of walls? Plumbing and duct chases? Bathroom exhaust fans?
  • Has the AC unit been maintained and is it working properly?

Other items that can also contribute:

  • Incandescent light bulbs produce more heat than they do light so switching lights to LEDs reduces the cooling load.
  • Locations and relationships between the supply and return registers.
  • Lack of good circulation, I know some of you hate to hear it, but having a ceiling fan on a low setting makes the room feel 5 degrees cooler.

Does this problem sound like yours? If so, give us a call; we would love to help you take care of it.

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