2nd Floor Not Cooling - Best Strategy for Troubleshooting?

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Old 08-10-13, 09:33 PM
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2nd Floor Not Cooling - Best Strategy for Troubleshooting?

Have a 2 story + full basement house that is cooled by a single zone AC unit. Having trouble keeping upstairs cool while main floor is comfortable and basement will be downright cold. House is 12 years old, and the roof venting is via ridgecap - no attic fans or large vents. Attic is well insulated.

I have tried shutting off the a/c vents in the basement to redirect the cold air both at the outlets as well as the duct plates (not sure that is the correct term). Didn't seem to do much and from what I read, the disruption to the designed airflow would do more harm than good.

Even as I write this the outside temp is in the mid-50s, and yet the upstairs is in the high 70s. On the flip side, the heating performance in the winter is off-the-charts good according to comparative stats from my utility company.

What direction should i head?
A) A/C performance - am skeptical as lower floors are performing well
B) Install a zoning system (not sure that is practical)
C) Additional roof venting
D) Whole house fan (have been reluctant due to allergies in the family and a fear of sucking in added pollens)
E) A house insulation/ventilation performance check

The primary issue is sleeping comfort. Tried one of those floor A/C units but the noise is too much. Gut tells me just to get a split/ductless for the bedroom and be done with it as opposed pursuing these other angles, but thought I would tap the experience of this group. Thanks.
 
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Old 08-11-13, 01:25 AM
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Two story house needs two units. One for upstairs one for main and basment. 12 years old so the equipment you have is at the end of its life so now is a good time to fix what the builder didn't do
 
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Old 08-11-13, 03:13 PM
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Yes, a 2 story typically really does need 2 systems, but you can try leaving the blower run 24/7 to help circulate the air in the home and even out temperatures as one fix. I have also changed to a thermostat that uses a wireless remote indoor sensor and averages temps on both floors so as a way to lower the temp maybe 1 degree but the affect along with running the blower helps to even out the temps even more.

Average life, in my area (IN), of a a/c system is 12-15 years... Gas furnace is 15-20 years.
 
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Old 08-11-13, 09:31 PM
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Thx for the initial thoughts. Have been leaving the blower fans on for circulation and it still hasn't helped much. Tonight, same type of thing - rooms on 1st floor extremely comfortable, basement cold, and master bedroom close to 80 at 11 pm when outside temp is 65 and 1st floor is at 72. Beginning to think it is a venting/insulation problem as the master faces south and the north rooms on 2nd floor are more comfortable.

Could some sort of blockage in the return for the master be causing this phenomenon?

While I'm inclined to think the a/c is ok, it is on it's 13th year. Was a bit surprised the life expectancy was that low (my '97 Suburban is doing just fine)...what are the failure modes I should be looking for that would motivate me to replace it? Untraceable freon leak? Low flow?

And - realize that each house is almost "custom" from duct work perspective - but is it even feasible to take a single system and put in dual units? Right now am leaning towards adding a split ductless for the two south facing rooms upstairs and letting it ride....
 
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Old 08-12-13, 03:00 AM
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If you don't have one, you may consider installing an attic fan.

Removing heat from the attic will make a huge difference.
 
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Old 08-12-13, 03:49 AM
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ductless mini splits are a good way to supplement when it is a duct work issue that can not be remedied without heavy construction.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 11:13 AM
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This happens way too often in homes. I think one of your problems is that your attic is so insulated even in the cooler weather like you're having now, your not losing any heat from the upstairs. A return would definitely help keep the upstairs closer to the desired temp and more balanced with the first floor. This will also be much less expensive then installing another system.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 12:03 PM
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Thx RDSTEAM- was suspecting that maybe it was trapped and that the attic may also be hot. I have a dual return - one unit with both an upper vent and a lower, adjustable vent (to close seasonally). Are you saying I need more? (Room is 17x22) Or should I test the flow rate?

I know I also have some sort of flow issue as have all the windows open upstairs over the last two days. And all the other rooms are good.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 05:53 PM
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The upper and lower nets on a single stack head are meant for seasonal changes and are not returns. A return would only pull air out from upstairs, usually just a grille located on the walls with no actual damper adjustment on it.
 
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Old 08-14-13, 10:01 PM
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well have that, but only one. Two supply grills on the floor providing air. I close the bottom grill in the summer so that it is not sucking cold air back, Upper grill has no adjustment on it. So you're thinking I'm still not getting enough return??
 
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