Heat rises, right? Mostly, yeah.
It may not have been too interesting when the teacher told you this in grade 3, but its implications become far more important when we grow up, buy a home and find both hot and cold spots make parts of the house annoyingly uncomfortable.
How do you make it livable?
Uneven temperatures can make your home or office uncomfortable places to spend hours in. When air forms layers (or stratifies, as some say) on a floor-by-floor basis, the upper floors can be sweltering, while a visit to the basement requires slippers and a blanket.
Occupants of the lower floors turn off the AC or crank up the heat, the occupied spaces get toasty warm. But that heat immediately migrates upward through any open areas. Anybody upstairs gets even hotter, while the basement or main floor cools off quickly again. Spending money on making things worse for everyone isn’t good; a professional can diagnose the location of any air seepage and help come up with a plan to keep everybody comfortable.
We call it “stacking”
Heated air is not as dense as cold air, which is why it travels upward. For the same reason dense, cold air sinks to the bottom of the atmosphere in a room. Areas divided by floors tend to stratify, holding on to air pockets according to density. This is the simplest explanation of why most basements are colder than most upper-floor bedrooms, even in well vented houses.
The phenomena is called “stacking,” or “the stack effect,” in industry-speak.
Aside from the scenario suggested above, this is sad news for your budget and makes environmentally conscious home and building owners cringe. Your home acts as a giant chimney (or stack). The upward-moving air has to go somewhere. It will find the small, unintentional gaps and deliberate openings in your attic. All of a sudden you are paying to heat the air around your home.
The easiest solution (coincidentally, the best too!)
Multi-level heat disparity in homes and commercial buildings is typically the result of poor HVAC design or installation. The problems include, but are not limited to:
- Poor Duct Design. Lots of structural factors impact the size, style and routing of ducts, and the placement of registers, or vents. Specialist training helps our technicians to predict and design answers to impediments such as frictional losses, ensuring that both quantity and velocity of treated air is adequate to all areas.
- Inadequately sized equipment. Both too-large and too-small furnaces and air conditioners can cause problems; the former cycle on and off too rapidly for the building to even out, and the latter struggle to do any good at all (that struggle often causes premature component failure).
With modern insulation, old rule-of-thumb formulas for sizing equipment are outdated and irrelevant.
In the U.S., ducting must be installed according to Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D standards and equipment sizing to ACCA Manual J standards. In Canada, the largest organization serving HVAC contractors is the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada, or HRAI. HRAI’s equivalent to Manual D is the Load and Duct Manual; HRAI’s equivalent to Manual J is CSA F280.
The proper sizing of equipment can be carried out in Canada using either set of parameters, and all Woodbridge GTA ClimateCare technicians are fully trained to use them. Without these skills, supported by regular education and testing, the homeowner has no guarantee their system will provide the air movement needed to ensure your home comfort systems work as intended.