In a multi-story home, the second floor always tends to be hotter than the first floor since warm air tends to rise to the highest point it can reach in a home. This can make it difficult to get even cooling. One way to address this problem is with return-air ducts. These ducts direct the hot air back down where it can be cooled. If your system is not cooling the second floor properly, you may have a problem with your return-air ducts.


Where the ducts are located in the rooms can impact how effective they are. Placing them near the floor will simply draw in cooler air. To get warmer air near the top of the room, the grills for the ducts should be installed near the top of the wall.

Sizing and number

For air to flow smoothly back down so it can be cooled, there have to be enough ducts and they have to be properly sized.

  • Access — Each room should have either a grill that feeds directly to a duct or a grill that leads to another room with a duct.
  • Sizing — The holes for the grills should be large enough to not act as a choke point in the system.

Other considerations

The free flow of air is key to getting maximum efficiency from your HVAC system. With return-air ducts, there are several things to consider.

  • Blocked grills — If the grills for your return-air ducts are blocked by pictures, wall hangings, or furniture, you will not get proper airflow.
  • Filter — It’s important to ensure that you replace your air filter every two or three months since a clogged filter can reduce airflow.

For your system to efficiently cool your entire home, your home’s return-air ducts must be doing their job correctly. If you have any further questions about this, please contact Pipe Works Services. We have proudly served Morris, Union, Somerset, and Essex counties for more than a decade, and we will be happy to help you.

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