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What’s the Best Way To Cool My Third Floor in Rochester, NY?

Adding air conditioning for the third floor of a home has always been a challenge. Fortunately, there are ACs on the market today that can do the job efficiently. And, you won’t need to do a whole bunch of remodeling to get the job done.

Rochester, NY is home to many luxury houses, old homes, split levels, and other homes with dormers, finished attics, and full third floors. The extra story gives you plenty more living space. But, in the summertime, it’s not always the most comfortable part of the house. It’s easily the hottest part of a home. And, if you think the bedrooms in a two-story home can get a little too warm, a third floor can get even worse.

So, before the warm weather rolls in, we’re looking at the best ways to keep the temperature down. And, we’ll see how to do it without driving your electric bill up — or having to do a lot of extra work.

We’ll start by examining why the top floor is always so hot. Then, we’ll dig into the benefits and disadvantages of central air and portable units. Finally, we’ll see how those options stack up against some of the latest and greatest in HVAC service. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, or are ready to make your Rochester, NY home much more comfortable in the summer, call or email us here at Airquip.

Call Us About Ductless For Your Home 585-641-3080

Why Is My Third Floor So Hot in the Summer?

Your third floor is hotter than the rest of the house in the summer because the heat gets trapped there. You have warmth rising from the first floor, plus the sun beating down on the roof and those two factors work together to make the third floor the hottest place in the house. Even in you have air conditioining on the first two floors, there's still thermal energy moving around. Since hot air naturally rises, it's going to reach the top of your house. that's why the upstairs bedrooms in two-story homes are often a few degrees warmer than downstairs. 

The other problem is the thermostat. Usually, you only have one thermostat, and it’s on the first floor. That’s the gauge telling your central AC when to turn on and off. But, if it’s only measuring the first floor. It’s not accounting for the upstairs rooms that take longer to cool. As a result, the system never stays on long enough to treat those warmer areas properly.

Then, the problem becomes even more pronounced when you add a third story to the mix. The third floor is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. In the winter, that top floor is cold because the heat rises, then it escapes through any crack, hole, or air leak it can find. That’s because heat is naturally attracted to cold air. So, it rises to your top floor and then keeps going outside. But, in the summer, you then also have the sun beating down on your roof. Now, you’ve got hot air rising to the top floor. Then, there’s more heat bearing down on the same area. So, all that warmth collects there, making it very uncomfortable.

Old Ways of Cooling a Third Floor

For the most part, people have had two options to cool their third floor: Extend ductwork up there to connect the central AC. Or, use a window or portable air conditioner. Unfortunately, none of these are ideal.

Central Air For a Third Floor

First of all, adding new ductwork to your home is expensive. You’re easily looking at over $1,000 to have a contractor design, fabricate, and install it. Then, your existing system may not have the power or the right design to cool that area. There’s a significant loss in pressure as the compressor pushes the forced air up through the ductwork. By the time it reaches the third floor, most of the force has been expelled.

So, the airflow up there is weak. Alternately, you can turn up the AC to get it cool up there. But, then, you run the risk of freezing out the floors below it by adding too much power.

Window Units and Portable ACs for Third-Floor Rooms

Window units have been a more popular option for third-floor rooms. And, more recently, portable air conditioners.

The advantage is that these models only cool the room they’re in. So, you’re not relying on the system handling the whole house. The drawback, however, is the expense every summer: Both these options cause considerable increases in your electric bill. And, for all that money, people aren’t always impressed with the results — particularly the newer portable models. Fortunately, there’s a better way.

Ductless Mini Split Cooling and Heating for Third Floors

A ductless mini split offers the power of central air conditioning to a third floor without affecting the rooms below it. They’re easy to install and energy-efficient, so they use much less electricity than central or especially window ACs and portable units.

These newer systems don’t work all that differently from traditional models: They draw in warm air from the room they’re located and send it outside while also dehumidifying. But, the big difference is a much more efficient heat transfer process. And, the way it’s installed makes it much easier to pinpoint a specific area of your home.

Ductless Air Conditioning From Airquip

Ductless Mini Split Installation

These models are called mini splits because they work using indoor and outdoor units. Inside, you’ll see an air handler. It’s a rectangular component that we mount permanently to your wall. Then, we run a small lineset of power and refrigerant lines to a heat pump outside. The heat pump takes care of transferring the warm air out of your house, so you’re left with cool air.

It uses a closed-loop system that requires very little energy once it’s up and running. Since all we need to do is mount the air handler and run the lines, there’s no extra expense or hassle with additional ductwork. And, since these are just as strong, if not better than central air, you get the power of a whole-home unit concentrated where you need it. The unit uses an energy-efficient heat transfer process. So, you won’t see that huge spike on your electricity bill that you did with portable units. And, if you have central air downstairs, you may even see savings.

Finally, the same system can also provide heat. Depending on the model you get, your air handler can also provide enough warmth for the fall or spring. That means you don’t need to crank the heat early in the season to stay warm up there. Or, you can run it all winter and cut down on your more expensive forced-air or radiators that are taking care of the rest of your house.

Of course, that’s just a quick overview of how these work. If you’re curious as to how a system like this would look and feel in your Rochester, NY home, call at (585) 641-3080, or email us here at for a free consultation.
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