Should I add a window unit when the house already has central AC?

4 Replies

I have an old row house that is 100+ years old. Brick walls with a retrofitted central air system that has been installed. Everything works, but the air flow doesn't get to the 2nd floor very well in the master bedroom. The heat didn't get in there well in the winter and now the AC isn't getting in there well in the summer. The tenant would like me to add a window unit in the master bedroom to help cool it down. 

When I went over there last week the room was warmer than downstairs, but not uncomfortably so. It was very comparable to my house--warmer upstairs than downstairs is par for the course during the summer months, IMHO. 

The question then is this: should I pay to add a window unit or is that a comfort cost paid for by the tenant? I.e. Where is the line between a want and a need? In this case, it seems as though the window unit is a want (comfort) without being a need. 

What would you do? Am I at risk of losing these tenants if I don't add the unit?

I would first have someone run a diagnostic on the main A/C if there is a problem with the unit or ducting you would want to fix that.  You may also be able to do this yourself with a heat sensor gun.  I would say you could allow the tenant to put in a window AC themselves but I wouldn't do it for them unless there was a major problem with the central system that you were unable or unwilling to fix.

personally I'd look into the blowers/filter in your system first. Make sure that is pushing enough air. 99% of houses will get far less heat/cold in the 2nd floor and if you really think it's the same as your house, let the tenant get their own means of cooling down.

Originally posted by @Aaron K. :

I would first have someone run a diagnostic on the main A/C if there is a problem with the unit or ducting you would want to fix that.  

I have had two companies come out and tell me that there is no issue with the unit itself, though the way the duct is run is not ideal. It makes a tight turn and runs up along a wall in a very narrow duct. They both said that the ducting is contributing to the issue but that there isn't anything that can be done for it without running a new chase upstairs. 

It depends on what "warmer" means. Is it 15 degrees warmer or 5 degrees warmer? If there's less than a 10-degree difference between levels, I would tell them to suck it up and use a fan. In the winter they should be able to easily move warm air from the lower level to the upper.

If it's more than ten degrees difference, then I would hire a professional to check it out.