Air Circulation in Homes with No Air Return on Second Floor

Air circulation in two story homes

Air circulation in homes which are older and / or in poorly designed newer ones equipped with a central, forced air system might be compromised because they do not have an air return port installed on the second floor. It doesn’t matter how much you run the air conditioning system during the summer – that second floor will always stay much hotter than the first.

Air circulation in homes - single, central air return register installed on the ceilingDuring the winter it becomes difficult to keep the property warm without proper air circulation as well. In both situations, the forced air system is wasting huge amounts of energy to keep up with the recommended thermostat settings.

A few solutions to consider when improving air circulation in homes and things to investigate. Implementing any and / or combination of them will make your living more comfortable and lower your home energy usage:

Air circulation in homes # 1

The following is recommended in any heating system but its importance magnified with forced air HVAC systems – check your bedroom and bathroom doors through the house. There should be at least a ¾” gap between the door bottom and the threshold /finished floor surface, in order to provide a positive air circulation in homes.

Air circulation in homes # 2

With no air return port installed on the second floor, slightly open the window in each room to release the air pressure. You are still throwing lots of money through the window but the temperature will become more comfortable.

Air circulation in homes # 3

The best solution – try to locate an area on the upper floor of your house corresponding to the forced air system location in the basement, crawlspace, etc. See if it would be possible to run an air duct between the two locations – the size / diameter of the duct should be calculated by a professional. Keep it close to the interior wall corners or closets if possible because it will be easier to build a chase around that air return duct and hide it.

Air circulation in homes # 4

If you have an open 2 story staircase between the floors, install a ceiling fan on the top floor ceiling / above the stairs, and run in clockwise (summer and winter in this case) on a low or medium speed. This will help to circulate / push the air down to the first floor return(s).Installing ceiling fans in majority of rooms will further improve air circulation in homes.

Keep the forced air system thermostat fan ON (instead of “AUTO”) position to help circulate the air during the hottest and coldest periods of time. Within a few minutes the temperature should equalize between the floors.There’s another, more advanced and much more expansive way of improving air ventilation and air circulation in homes, especially multi story buildings. This is by using supplemental mechanical balanced heat-recovery ventilation systems. More details about this subject can be found at: whole house ventilation system.

However, I’m pretty sure that one or combination of any of the 4 tips above will help improving air circulation in homes.

Air circulation in homes

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