How Do I Cool My Upstairs Without Freezing Out My Basement?

Even with a central air conditioner, not every part of the house cools appropriately. The most common problem we hear is that the bedrooms upstairs are always too warm. Meanwhile, the first floor is fine. If they turn up the AC for the second floor, the living and even the basement end up freezing. 

It’s especially a problem in towns like Havertown, Wynnewood, and other Main Line neighborhoods. We have a lot of older homes with outdated ductwork. And, many have third floors that never heat or cool quite right. There are a few ways to fix this problem. But, they don’t all work equally as well. And, some are way more expensive than others. 

In most cases, we recommend a ductless heating and cooling system. It’s easy to install and, after the initial investment, does a much better job than other options. And it requires less energy to do it

In this article, we’ll review: 

  • Why Many Main Line Homes Don’t Have Enough Cooling

  • Ductless Heating And Cooling Eliminates Uneven Cooling

  • Ductless Vs. Extending Existing Ductwork 

  • Ductless Vs. Window Air Conditioners

  • Mini Split Installations In And Around Havertown, PA 

And, if you want to finally get the comfort you want in every room, all summer long, call or email us here at John Cipollone. Starting with a free consultation, we’ll help you find the perfect solution for your Main Line home. 

Learn More About Ductless

Why Many Main Line Homes Don’t Have Enough Cooling

Some rooms (like the top floor) are always too hot, while others (like the basement) get too cold. It happens even in a home with central air. It’s called uneven cooling, and it’s even more common in older Main Line homes with three stories. The top reasons are:

  • Hot Air Rising 

  • Weak Air Circulation

  • Only One Thermostat

Mitsubishi Electric How Ductless Works

Hot Air Rising 

When it comes to basements and top floors, two factors are at play. First, the temperature underground is cooler than above ground. Since basements are partially, if not entirely, underground, they stay cooler than other parts of the house. There are a few reasons why.

Then, there’s a heat sink. The basement’s concrete floor absorbs heat, leaving the room right above it — the basement — much colder. The bigger the base for the home, the more pronounced this becomes

Next, we’re dealing with physics: Hot air rises. Warm air from the basement or first floor eventually, that warm air makes it to the house’s top floor.

In the winter, that heat would keep on moving up and out. That’s because warmth always moves toward cold areas. But, in the summer, you also have the sun beating down on the roof. That means the hot air that reaches the top floor stays there.

Weak Air Circulation

Even in a home with ductwork, it’s tough to have enough static pressure to reach the top floor — especially a third story. A forced-air system works by pushing the air up through ducts and out the vents. 

The further it travels from the blower in the furnace, and the more vents on along the way, the weaker the air pressure gets. 

By the time it reaches the third floor, the air circulation is weak. And, since it’s hotter up there than anywhere else, it makes almost no impact at all. 

And, that’s if your ducts even reach that far! Many old home designs don’t even have the ductwork running to that top floor. 

Only One Thermostat

With single-zone central heating and air, you get one thermostat. Odds are it’s on the first floor. It measures the temperature in that room and works the HVAC system according to that reading. 

But, the top floor is hotter. And, the basement is colder. So, you’re never getting an accurate gauge for the entire house. If you turn up the AC to compensate for the second or third story, you’re adding way too much cooling for the first floor or cellar. 

Ductless Heating And Cooling Eliminates Uneven Cooling

A ductless heating and cooling system eliminates these uneven cooling problems by providing the right amount of air conditioning to that one problem area in the house. It’s as strong as central air and costs way less to run. And, you can expand your system to cover more than one room. It gets around those other challenges by: 

  • Using A Separate Thermostat

  • Transferring Heat, Not Air

How Do I Cool My Upstairs Without Freezing Out My Basement?Using A Separate Thermostat

We often refer to these systems as mini splits. They’re made up of indoor air handlers connected to ductless heat pumps outside. Every room you’re treating gets an air handler. Each one has a thermostat and works independently of the others. 

When the dormer is warmer than the basement, that third floor gets that extra conditioning while the floors below it don’t. 

Transferring Heat, Not Air

Losing pressure isn’t a concern even for a third story because the ductless heat pump only moves heat, or thermal heat, not the air.

The indoor and outdoor units are connected by a line running coolant liquid in a loop between them. The air handler draws in warm air, and the heat transfers to the fluid. Then, cool air recirculates through the room. That thermal energy travels down to the heat pump, which gets rid of it. This way, the pump only needs to keep that coolant running. 

How Do I Cool My Upstairs Without Freezing Out My Basement?

Now that you know how it works let’s see how this stacks up against other options

Ductless Vs. Extending Existing Ductwork 

If you were to add extra ductwork to reach the third floor, it wouldn’t work as well as ductless. You still only have one thermostat downstairs. And, you’re still losing pressure on the way up. On top of that, there’s the expense and hassle of building new ductwork and installing it. Even if you repaired existing ductwork, you’re still dealing with those thermostat and static pressure problems. 

Ductless Vs. Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioners were the best option for rooms like this for a long time. You’d have one unit treating the one room that needed extra cooling. But ductless does a better job using far less electricity

As a result, the mini split costs much, much less to run than window or portable units. They’re also whisper-quiet — a big difference from cooling so loud you have to shout over it. 

Finally, your mini split is permanently installed. There’s no lugging anything in and out of storage. And, it provides heating — an excellent solution for when that room becomes too cold in the winter. 

Mini Split Installations In And Around Havertown, PA 

Mini-split installations are quick and easy in homes on the Main Line and around Havertown, PA. A single-zone setup (one hair handler in one room) only takes a day!

Even if you add up to eight zones, we can still get it done in less than a week — and without doing any major construction on your house. 

If you’re ready to finally make every room in your home comfortable in every season, call or email John Cipollone today for a free consultation. 

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