Any HVAC guys or multiple story home owners in here?

cj428mach

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I own a split level house and while I love the look of my house the difference in temperature between the levels, especially in summer time can really make it uncomfortable. My house is built similar to this
split level idea.jpg


Ignore the floor plan just trying to show the split level and my problem.

The problem is the living quarters in the upstairs has to be 5-10 degrees warmer than the lower levels. The thermostat is on the middle floor and I usually have it set around 72 degrees in the summer, the bottom floor behind the garage where the main living room is located is ice cold, probably several degrees below 72.

Ideally I need some way to circulate air around the house from top to bottom but I don't know how I can do that easily. The master bedroom is huge and located directly above the lowest level living room that is ice cold. I was thinking about cutting 1 or 2 vents in the floor of the master bedroom and the ceiling of the lower living room, adding ducting and installing some duct fans, something like this
https://www.lowes.com/pd/SUNCOURT-Inductor-6-in-Dia-Galvanized-Steel-Axial-Duct-Fan/1000018191

This would at least in theory make the master bedroom much more comfortable. The other 2 bedrooms I could probably get by with small window unit AC's if necessary to make them better.

Is this a decent idea? anyone one have any better ideas or see a flaws in the plan? I haven't figured out how I'd run the fan in the vents, maybe just wire up a wall mounted switch.

I see they make some vents with fans that drop in and are supposed to help pull air to a room which might help, but I believe a big part of the problem is hot air rises and cold air sinks.
 

365 Saleen

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Heat pump. One on each floor. Heat in the winter, A/C in the summer. Cheaper in the long run to most other options. I am fortunate that our house has central A/C so both floors stay nice and cool. And more importantly, the A/C de-humidifies and here in Maine the humidity can be brutal.
 

raustin0017

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My last home in Charleston, SC was a split level and I solved the issue with installing a new Trane HVAC Dual Zone system.
Expensive up front but solved a long term issue. I was amazed on how much my energy bill lowered. System has a valve coming out of the main duct work that directs air flow to both downstairs/upstairs at the same time and you can control the % of flow directed to up/down stairs. With the programmable system it is very easy to control the air flow.
Moved up the Virginia Beach, VA two years ago and one of the 1st things I did was to rip out the old HVAC system and install a new Trane Dual Zone. System is so efficient my electric bill was cut in half.
 

cj428mach

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My last home in Charleston, SC was a split level and I solved the issue with installing a new Trane HVAC Dual Zone system.
Expensive up front but solved a long term issue. I was amazed on how much my energy bill lowered. System has a valve coming out of the main duct work that directs air flow to both downstairs/upstairs at the same time and you can control the % of flow directed to up/down stairs. With the programmable system it is very easy to control the air flow.
Moved up the Virginia Beach, VA two years ago and one of the 1st things I did was to rip out the old HVAC system and install a new Trane Dual Zone. System is so efficient my electric bill was cut in half.

I'll read up on that for future long term improvements, how does it install? And by that I mean the duct work/valving? I really don't want to be knocking holes in the wall to run new ducting. My house has central heat and air so there is ducting through out the house already its just the temps aren't even through out the house.
 

TerminatoRS

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Two-story home, thermostat on the main level, similar issue being warm in the master bedroom (upstairs).
Adjusted the dampers in the basement in order to force more cool air to the upstairs vents. Definitely helped.
 

MG0h3

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Any home built in the last couple years here in my town has two AC units with corresponding thermostats if it’s a two story.

Unit for upstairs is typically larger than down.

Makes sense that the only floor that is actually at the desired temp is the one with the thermostat.

I like the idea of recirculating air.

Have you tried just closing some vents in the lower floors?




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The Bone

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I am a sheet metal worker for 35 years.
There are a couple different things you can do.
First is install another furnace in the attic You could put the AC unit on the ground or roof I prefer ground. It will be a challenge to run the coolant lines but there is always a way. You can cap off the ductwork from the downstairs unit and hook uo the existing ductwork to the new unit. We call this a split system. Not cheap but will solve your problem. Fans in the duct will not help. You are losing to much cooling because the outlets are to far from the furnace.
Another thing you can do and I highly recommend doing this first is a attic fan. If you can get all that super heated air out of your attic you will notice a big difference right away. It could get 150 degrees up there. If its 100 out then you just dropped that temp by 50 degrees. My AC wouldn't shut off on a hot day. I installed a attic fan and no matter how hot it is my AC cycles and doesn't stay on all the time.
 

7998

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You need to install a 2nd zone like mentioned. You need an HVAC contractor to do it. Right now your downstairs is 62*, your upstairs is 80* and the mid level where your T-stat is located is probably 72*.
If your cheap or can't afford to install a 2nd zone you can try closing some of the downstairs vents for the summer to try and balance the system.
 

mariusvt

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Another option, while it would increase run time is get something like the Ecobee thermostats and a handful of the sensors. It's what I run in my single zone 2400sq ft 2 story. I've got the thermostat and 1 sensor on the main, then 3 upstairs and I have it heat & cool to the average across all 5 data points. Overall energy bill is up slightly using this approach but the house is much more comfortable and even.

I've got dampers in the basement so in the winter I close off the upstairs trunk some or in summer the 2 main downstairs trunks partially to force more air around.
 

cj428mach

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I am a sheet metal worker for 35 years.
There are a couple different things you can do.
First is install another furnace in the attic You could put the AC unit on the ground or roof I prefer ground. It will be a challenge to run the coolant lines but there is always a way. You can cap off the ductwork from the downstairs unit and hook uo the existing ductwork to the new unit. We call this a split system. Not cheap but will solve your problem. Fans in the duct will not help. You are losing to much cooling because the outlets are to far from the furnace.
Another thing you can do and I highly recommend doing this first is a attic fan. If you can get all that super heated air out of your attic you will notice a big difference right away. It could get 150 degrees up there. If its 100 out then you just dropped that temp by 50 degrees. My AC wouldn't shut off on a hot day. I installed a attic fan and no matter how hot it is my AC cycles and doesn't stay on all the time.

Thanks for your reply, the fan in the duct work idea wasn't really to boost performance of the cold air out of the AC vents. It was to create a pathway between the top and bottom floor of my house that I could begin to circulate airflow with since the room below the master bed room is probably in the mid 60 degree range and the master bedroom directly above it is in the 80 degree range. I realize all these are band aid fixes until I get a new HVAC system upgrade which will probably happen sooner rather than later. The AC unit is original to the house when it was built in 1974, but I kind of always space off the idea of upgrades until the middle of summer lol.
 

ford fanatic

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Dual zone.

I've had the same issue as you since I built my house in 2006, a dual zone is in my future when my AC/heat pump shits the bed.
 

rotor_powerd

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Only way to truly fix it will be to add a second zone.

Our last house only had one HVAC zone between two levels and had the same issue you describe. A mixture of adding an Ecobee thermostat with remote sensors and some trial and error of closing dampers did improve the balance, but it was never perfect.
 

Badaz01

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I have a 2 1/2 ton heat pump and had the same issue. We replaced our floors with laminate hardwood and the difference in air circulation was great. The upstairs is still maybe 2-4 degrees warmer but definitely an improvement. The air flows a lot smoother with the wood floor and the slight increase in the gap at the bottom of the doors.
 

V6&V8SHO

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Ecobee with sensors and added flair smart
Vents to the main floor master. Helped level it out upstairs as the trunk supplies master before going upstairs and was usually 3F or so colder. I’m running within 1F between vaulted main floor, upstairs, and master now.

Smart Vents and Wireless Thermostats | Flair
 

ozsctpk

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Hello OP I do commercial HVAC controls for a living short of installing a zoned system. The flair vents are an option because they do the same thing as zone dampers that I deal with in the commercial world. Put one on all the registers.


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