Home Cool Home – Does Your House Type Impact Your A/C?

May 7, 2021

From north to south and east to west, the Charlotte metro area offers a wide variety of home types. Whether you like to sit high -- condo-style -- in a towering Uptown building, spread out a bit in a suburban two-story home or cozy up in a ranch or townhome, you’ll want your home sweet home to be home cool home too. So, the question is: does house type impact air conditioning? The short answer is yes. Read on for more details. 


Ranch-style homes or “ranches” for short appeared in the ‘20s and began booming in the ‘40s with continued popularity through the 70s as “their livability, flexibility in floor plans and uncomplicated design were perfect for the post-World War II growth of American suburbs.”[i] A ranch is a single floor-house either on a crawlspace (typical for older homes) or a concrete slab (most likely in newer homes). 

Great news for ranch owners: ranches normally cool quite well with very few issues. But, in case you have some common A/C questions wonder no longer. Get the answers here

Split-level /Tri-level

A split-level or tri-level home has at least three levels connected by stairs. This type of home emerged in the ‘50s and ’60s. The style actually gained popularity in the ‘70s after the TV sitcom, The Brady Bunch, debuted in 1969 and portrayed the brood living in a split-level.[ii]

If you own this style, you might be frustrated because the top floor gets hot and struggles to properly cool the house. This is due to a lack of return air. The solution: an HVAC contractor, like Charlotte Mechanical, can install a return pipe to the top floor, which will allow the top floor heat to be removed. And there’s a bonus! This fix also boosts airflow to this area. Ranging from approximately$1,250-$2,250, this service requires a soffit to be built around the pipe. So, you do lose a bit of floor space, but you’ll gain comfort.  


You’ll find these everywhere you look in the Queen City! And of course, there are many different styles of two-story homes, so we’ll skip the history lesson on this one.

While able to accommodate families with the expansive space, these unfortunately can require lots of A/C. The HVAC quirk to watch out for if you’re on the market for a home: lots of areas open to the floors below, such as open stairwells, open second floor walkways, and large first-to-second floor vaulted ceilings. No matter what we do, heat will rise and cold air will drop, making these spaces a bit less comfortable from a temperature perspective.   

Three-Story Townhouse

Most popular in the U.S. in the 40s, townhomes are defined by having more than two floors and are considered single-family dwellings. “The origins of the word townhouse go back to early England, where the term referred to a dwelling a family (usually royalty) kept ‘in town’ (meaning London) when their primary residence was in the country.”[iii]

We see many three-story townhomes in Charlotte; the cooling hiccup with these is that if yours is more than 10-years-old, it is most likely not “zoned.” But, adding “zoning” is a requirement when upgrading an HVAC system, according to current county/state building code. This is important for you to know because zoning a HVAC system adds about $1,500-$4,000, depending on the difficulty of access to pipes in the attic or if ceilings need to be opened.

Why is this a code requirement now? Because years ago heating and cooling contractors put this system in and only installed one thermostat on the second floor, causing people on the first and third floor to be very uncomfortable. By zoning the floors, which means adding a thermostat to each floor, each becomes thermostatically controlled causing even temperatures. Without a thermostat on each floor, the temperature is more than six degrees different than the floor controlled by the thermostat.  

Charlotte High-Rise Condo

The first condos in the U.S. were built in 1960 in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1961, federal legislation followed that allowed mortgages on condominiums, making financing easier to attain. You can find condos in many spots around Charlotte but many think first of the bounty of high-rise condos in Uptown Charlotte.

Most are heated and cooled by a water source heat pump. The upside is that it is much more efficient than a regular heat pump. The downside is that the cost of replacement is on the high side if it malfunctions or goes kaput.

For answers to any of your A/C questions, feel free to contact us or read these blogs: 4 Common A/C Questions, 10 Tasks to Get Your Home Summer-Ready, Don’t Be Afraid of Your A/C and A/C Installation: 3 Crucial Cool Down Considerations.


[i] https://homeguides.sfgate.com/ranch-style-homes-1473.html
[ii] https://magazine.realtor/home-and-design/architecture-coach/article/2008/09/split-level-homes-outdated-or-underrated
[iii] https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-is-a-townhouse/


PHOTO CREDIT: Wil Amani on Unsplash

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