The following tip comes from a resident on Oregold Court. Although
this tip is about central air conditioning units in Atlantic
Washington homes, the general principle applies to other homes.

Whatever home model you have, in the summer your central air
conditioning system baffles should be set to force the cold air
through the ducts to the top floor vents so it can cascade down to
the other floors. In winter, the baffles should be set to force the
warm air through the ducts to the lower floor vents, so the warm air
can rise to the other floors. It may help to try closing floor vents
on the other levels.

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Atlantic Washington homes central air conditioning tip

I have a tip for Montpelier Hills homeowners who are frustrated by a
lack of air-conditioning on the third floor of their townhouses. This
was triggered by a conversation with an Oregold Court neighbor today.

I was fortunate when I moved in to Oregold Court that a contractor
quickly discovered a flaw in the set-up of our internal ductwork. At
least for the homes built by Atlantic Washington, there are _two_
baffles controlling the airflow from the first floor air handler--and
one of them was completely closed in mine.

What makes this problem hard to discover is that the baffles are located
in two different places. For the Atlantic Washington homes, one is in
the dining room, behind a small removable panel near the ceiling (in the
corner nearest the air handler). The other one is directly above the air
handler itself.

It was the second one (above the handler) that no one knew about
originally because a false ceiling had been installed between the main
part of the closet and the baffle; the baffle control was _above_ the
false ceiling. I remember having to knock out a portion of that piece of
overhead drywall, and then use a mirror, to see and modify the second
baffle.

Once both baffles were fully open, I found that the temperature
differential between the second and third floors was only a few degrees.

In a three-floor townhouse with one thermostat, it'll probably never be
perfect. But I'd recommend that anyone having serious problems with heat
on their third floor take a close look at the baffles in their ductwork.
There's a good chance there are two, and one might be faulty or closed.

We also found that we got some additional benefit from installing
retractable shades over the skylight openings. That helps cut down on
hot sun during the day.

Hope this note helps someone in the community.

July 2001