Skip navigation

We are hiring. Training available. Great benefits. Apply Now

Serving the Greater Lansing & Grand Rapids Areas


A-1 Mechanical Blog

My House is Hot Upstairs and Cold Downstairs (What to Do!)


In Lansing, Michigan, many homeowners wonder why “my house is hot upstairs and cold downstairs.” The house is never the perfect temperature in every room. The simplest answer takes you back to elementary science class: heat rises.

In this blog, we’ll review some possible solutions to this uneven temperature problem, including some DIY tasks and some professional ones.

An ideal solution likely combines several of these items, so start with what you are able to do on your own. Then, have a professional come in when further improvements are necessary.

A list of potential solutions include some DIY tactics and some which require a professional:

DIY Steps:

  • Check ductwork for leaks
  • Adjust dampers
  • Improve insulation

Use an HVAC Contractor:

  • System zoning
  • Install ceiling fans or ductless AC units
  • Overall HVAC system upgrades

Let’s review them in more detail…

DIY – Check Ductwork for Leaks

Ductwork runs in your walls and attic or below floors to carry heated or cooled air to your living space. If you often ask yourself why my house is hot upstairs and cold downstairs, your ducts may be to blame.

Leaky ducts lose heated or cooled air in the unconditioned areas of your home before it reaches your living space. This is a waste of money. You’ve paid to heat and condition the air, but it escapes before it reaches your whole house.

To check your ducts, turn on your air conditioner and go into the ducts’ location. Move your insulation away from your ductwork and find the joints. Run your hand along the joints to feel for air leaks. If you feel air, secure your joints and then seal them with foil-faced tape. HVAC professional also perform these tasks for you if you prefer.

DIY – Adjust Dampers

Dampers are plates located inside your ducts and control the airflow into each room. There are four easy steps to adjust your home’s dampers. Be careful, however, not to completely shut up rooms. This causes an imbalance of pressure throughout the home.

Pressure imbalances force your HVAC equipment to work harder, which causes excess wear and tear, as well as higher energy bills. Try the following steps to resolve the damper issue. If you’re unsure, book an appointment with a pro.

  1. Open all vents or registers in your house. Find the AC duct trunks from your furnace and open all the damper levers. These are located on the side of the duct and should point the way the air flows.
  2. In rooms sufficiently cooled, close the balancing dampers. Simply turn the dampers so they are perpendicular to the airflow.
  3. Wait a few days to test the temperature in each room.
  4. Return to the furnace ducts and adjust any air conditioner dampers in uncomfortable rooms. Repeat as needed.

DIY – Improve Insulation

Insulation improvements are popular DIY projects. The results provide a more comfortable home and lower energy bills. The Department of Energy (DOE) encourages all homeowners to add insulation and make their home more efficient, regardless of age.

If you ask yourself why is my house is hot upstairs and cold downstairs, inspect your attic’s insulation. Add insulation around ducts in the attic and interior walls to improve comfort.

HVAC Professional – Zoning Systems

Zone your HVAC system with dampers in your ductwork to control the flow of air in different parts of the home. This creates temperature zones in your home. For example, zone your upstairs to receive more cool air than your downstairs to even out the temperature in your home.

Technicians create zones with a traditional system or the addition of ductless AC units. Ductless units are also available as mini-split heat pumps to both heat and cool your home. Keep this in mind if you have rooms which never seem to get warm enough in the winter.

HVAC Professional – Install Ceiling Fans or Ductless AC Units

Ceiling fans are a relatively inexpensive addition and help circulate and redistribute air, which makes you feel more comfortable.

Ductless AC units run independently from your home’s central air and heat. They either supplement a current system or work in homes without existing ductwork. They create zoned cooling and keep areas of your home cooler when your current system cannot keep up.

Your local HVAC professional installs these units with minimal disruption in your home. These modern cooling marvels are quiet, energy efficient and effective.

HVAC Professional – Overall HVAC System Upgrades

When all else fails, consider an overall HVAC system upgrade. When you replace an older, less efficient with a new, energy efficient model not only improves your home’s comfort level, but also saves you money in energy bills.

Sometimes uneven temperatures are due to an incorrectly-sized HVAC unit. Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to air conditioners, heat pumps and furnaces. A qualified HVAC professional can take measurements and provide a recommendation for you.

When It’s Hot Upstairs and Cold Downstairs Call A-1 Mechanical to Help

This summer when you ask why my house is hot upstairs and cold downstairs, call A-1 Mechanical to help! We have served customers in the Lansing area since 1983 and put their comfort and satisfaction first.

Call us today and see what makes A-1 Mechanical the quality leader in Lansing! Our team of qualified professionals travels throughout the Lansing area, including Haslett, Dimondale, Eaton Rapids, Charlotte, Bath Township and East Lansing.

Our team also serves the Grand Rapids area including Kentwood, Plainfield, Wyoming, Cutlerville, Jenison, Hudsonville, Byron Center and Comstock Park.

Comments are closed.