How To Increase Airflow To The Second Floor Of Your Home [Helpful Tips & Tricks]?

Are summer days on the second floor of your house much hotter than on the ground floor, and do you want to know if there’s a way to increase airflow to the second floor? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

Installing a ceiling fan on the second floor will help improve the airflow. Here is a list of additional things that you can do to increase the airflow to the second floor:

  • Adjust dampers
  • Increase the air handler settings
  • Increase the size of return ducts and vents
  • Add vents and ducts
  • Check air filters
  • Look for duct blockage
  • Inspect ducts for damage
  • Install a dual-zone air conditioning system

Let’s talk more about these different methods of increasing the airflow on the second floor in the succeeding sections. Learn why it is hotter on the upper floors of your house than on the ground floor in the next section.

Read on!

empty bedroom, looking towards the window over the laminated floor, of a new house, How To Increase Airflow To The Second Floor Of Your Home [Helpful Tips & Tricks]?

Why is it hotter on the second floor?

The roof of your house can become hot really fast during the summer months. The heat from the roof will quickly radiate into the attic space and warm the air there.

At the same time, the sun will also warm the walls of your house. The radiant heat going through the windows will warm the air inside the first floor and the second floor.

However, warm air naturally travels upward. This means that the warm air on the first floor will travel to the second floor. This results in a faster accumulation of warm air on the second floor.

To make it worse, if your attic does not have the correct insulation, the heat from the attic will radiate to the second floor too.

When you turn on the air conditioner, the cold air that goes to the second floor will start to travel down to the first floor because cold air tends to move downward. This happens while the warm air from the ground floor travels up, making it harder to cool the second floor.

What are dampers?

Dampers are mechanical devices that regulate airflow. They can be manual or automated.

Air volume damper

Adjusting Dampers To Improve Airflow

The cheapest and fastest way to improve the airflow on the second floor is by adjusting the dampers on your vents.

Adjust the damper on the ground floor vents to minimize the flow of cold air. Next, adjust the dampers on the second floor to increase the flow of cold air going into the second floor.

This lets you redirect most of the cold air to the second floor. It is OK to reduce the flow of cold air on the ground floor since cold air naturally travels down anyway.

What this does is slow down the cooling of the ground floor and increase the rate at which the second floor will cool. Doing so will prevent the thermostat from shutting down the air conditioning after the ground floor reaches the target temperature.

When to increase the air handler setting?

The air handler of an HVAC unit houses the blowers that push cold air into your house. If the blower is set to a low speed, then the airflow will be low regardless of the damper adjustments that you do.

Check the fan setting of your HVAC and increase the fan speed if it is at a low setting.

Increasing The Size Of Return Ducts And Vents

Ductwork installed in the attic for air conditioner vents

If adjusting the dampers or increasing fan speed is not enough to improve the airflow on the second floor, that could mean that the size of the ducts and vents is not big enough. If the floor area is too big and the size of the ducts or vents is not proportional to it, then you will never achieve enough airflow on the second floor.

Moreover, the low airflow on the return ducts will force your AC system to work twice as hard.

One way to resolve this issue is to increase the size of the return ducts and vents.

The return ducts suck the air inside a room and bring it to the air conditioner. The air conditioner will then cool the warm air. The supply vents will release the cool air back into the room.

If the return ducts or supply vents are too small, cooling the second floor will take too long. If the second floor loses cold air faster from the heat coming from the sun than the rate cold air gets into the room, then the room will be unlikely to cool down.

When to add vents or ducts?

Increasing the size of vents or ducts on the second floor might not be possible in your house. There could be space restrictions in the design of your house that make it impossible to accommodate larger ducts or vents.

If you can no longer increase the size of the vents, then the best solution would be to increase the number of ducts and vents instead. Moreover, you can supplement the existing ducts and vents by installing smaller ones inside each bedroom on the second floor.

The additional vents and ducts will improve the airflow by removing warm air from multiple areas at the same time. It also provides cold air at multiple points.

Air vents checking the filter if it still clean or need cleaning

How to troubleshoot air filter blockage?

If your HVAC previously had no problems cooling your second floor, then you might have dirty filters.

Air filters remove any contaminants in the air before it gets to the AC. Unfortunately, the air filter becomes clogged by the same contaminants that it removes from the air.

The more contaminants the air filter traps, the less the airflow will be. Your air filter will become dirty faster if you live in dusty areas. Thus, it is a good idea to replace the air filter periodically.

If you do not know the location of the air filters in your HVAC system, contact a professional to check them for you and make the necessary replacements.

When to check for air duct blockage?

HVAC experts recommend checking air ducts annually for blockage. Blockage in the air ducts of your home will have a similar effect as a dirty filter. Blockages in your air ducts greatly reduce the flow of air.

Here are some of the signs that you have a blockage in your air ducts:

  • Dirty or dusty air coming out of vents or ducts
  • Unexplained spikes in the electric bill
  • Some vents do not have air coming out
  • Uneven temperatures in rooms

Blockage in air ducts doesn’t just limit the flow of air. It also affects the air quality inside your house.

Degraded air quality can negatively affect the health of the members of your family, in addition to causing premature wear on your HVAC system.

Duct Damage Or Leaks

A dent or leak on a hvac duct

Some blockages can lead to corrosion and weaken the structural integrity of the ducts and vents. Blockages can also lead to duct and vent damage that leads to leaks.

Damage and leaks in your duct and vent system will cause weak airflow. If the flow of cold air goes somewhere else because of a leak, then the main duct or vent will experience less airflow.

Weak airflow forces your system to run longer, which leads to premature wear.

Damage to your ducts and vents could be the result of damage in your house. Damage to the walls or ceilings of your house can also damage the ducts and vents of your HVAC system. Similarly, substandard repairs on previous duct or vent damage can become worse.

Contact an HVAC professional to do permanent repairs to any damage.

What is a dual-zone air conditioning system?

A dual-zone air conditioning system or a multi-zone air conditioning system is a structured method of regulating air inside your house. In this method, your house is divided into several zones, not just one zone per floor. You then assign a specific target temperature to each zone.

To achieve this, each zone needs to have its own thermostat. The individual thermostats allow you to assign different target temperatures to each zone.

You then install dampers with motors. The motors adjust the size of the opening of the dampers.

These dampers open or close the pathway for air between zones. Once a zone reaches its target temperature, the thermostat will activate the dampers to isolate that zone.

The individual thermostats control the flow of cold air into each zone. Thus, if the second floor is still warm while the rest of the zones are already cold, the flow of air going to the other zones will close, but not to the second floor. All airflow will focus on the second floor, and this will cool it faster.

You can use a single HVAC to cool all the zones inside your house.

Alternatively, you can install separate HVAC systems per floor. This reduces wear and tear on your HVAC systems because they will be able to shut themselves down once their floor reaches the target temperature.

This is the most expensive solution among the ones listed here. However, this is also the most effective at improving airflow and cooling inside your house.

Google Nest Learning Thermostat is available on Amazon through this link.


empty bedroom, looking towards the window over the laminated floor, of a new house

There are different ways to increase the airflow to the second floor. Pick a solution that will solve the issue for you at an acceptable price point for you.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might find the articles below equally enjoyable to read:

Does MERV Rating Affect Airflow?

How To Increase Airflow To One Room?

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