Challenges with Split-level Homes
When upgrading homes, there are specific challenges with split-level homes. After World War II, baby boomers wanted more house space without taking up more of their lot. So they often opted for the split-level homes. This configuration generally features a foyer with a half staircase up to the second floor and a half staircase down to the basement level. The main or entry level typically includes the kitchen and living areas. Bedrooms are upstairs for decreased noise and increased privacy. Basements are often used as playrooms or home theaters or game rooms. This style gained popularity in the 1960s as a new take on traditional two-story homes. The preference of the style has fluctuated over the years.
We have many clients who live in these homes, and they often engage us to perform energy efficient upgrades.
Split-level homes often have one HVAC system which can have trouble keeping the various levels a consistent temperature. The open foyer mixes air from the lower and upper floors. This makes it tough to control temperatures on each floor. Clients complain of a wall of heat hitting them as they go upstairs in the warmer months. Conversely, they experience issues with cool air migrating from the basement in the cooler months.
Knee walls are problematic but fixable.
One of the solvable challenges with split-level homes is that knee walls are not properly sealed and insulated in the upper floor rooms, which are often above garages. Insulating under the floor of the room above can be very invasive – particularly when the garage is finished with sheet rock. With properly addressing the knee walls, we can eliminate the drastic temperature changes in various parts of the house. So, what is a knee wall? A knee wall is a wall that has conditioned, finished space on one side and attic space on the other. We rarely evaluate homes where the knee walls are properly air sealed (in addition to being insulated).
Just adding insulation may not help solve the issues.
We recently upgraded a home where the client obtained quotes from another company before contacting us. The other company claimed they could fix his comfort issues by simply adding more loose fill (or blown in) fiberglass insulation to the attic floor. Unfortunately, we come across this scenario a lot. Some clients will obtain a scope and quote from us and another company and decide to go the less expensive route of just adding insulation. They often contact us a year or two later saying the additional insulation did not improve their comfort problems. Before you go the route of just adding insulation, call us so we can help address the specific challenges with split-level homes.
Eco Three is a trusted, leading-edge home energy authority dedicated to helping homeowners in Alabama through our comprehensive home energy audits and energy-efficient upgrades. Our nationally accredited team of hometown experts uses the latest technology to provide actionable solutions to outrageous energy bills and home comfort issues. We’re not a franchise – we’re an experienced group of people with a unique plan and a sincere interest in making a difference in people’s lives and the environment. We service existing homes as well as new construction.