My house has a concrete slab foundation and the floor in the kitchen and living room is all tile. It is always freezing downstairs in the winter and I'm wondering if this is due to the floor or maybe there isn't proper insulation in the walls. Upstairs it gets hot because the hot air from the heater rises up. So while it is 72 degrees downstairs it feels cold but upstairs it is hot.

The living room and kitchen are small and they are the only rooms downstairs, next to the built in garage. I'm tired of wearing coats and hats downstairs simply because we can't afford to have the heater on so high all throughout winter. How can I fix this??

  • 1
    Likely improperly insulated or not insulated at all. Measure the floor temperature as well as the air temperature. Also sounds like your heating system should be balanced better (it should somewhat actively mix the air, rather than just letting the heat flow upstairs.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 23:44
  • I have the same problem so I'm planning to install electric floor heating. Just for the living room and have it running only during the day when we spend time there.
    – Grasper
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 16:58

2 Answers 2


Sounds like your concrete slab is un-insulated around the perimeter and/or the bottom. The very conductive flooring material (tile) doesn't help; the combination of these two means that the floor has very little thermal resistance to heat flow, so you constantly lose heat through the slab.

If the heat you generate is quickly rising through the second floor, it sounds like you have a secondary problem of too little attic insulation, which is causing the rising heat to rise right through the attic rather than get stuck at the second floor ceiling due to all the insulation that should be there.

The second problem is easy to fix: go up into the attic and air-seal all the places on the attic floor that are open to the living space using caulk and canned spray foam, and then blow 15" or more of cellulose onto the floor, covering up any existing insulation up there.

The problem with the slab is harder to fix. If you have bare dirt around your house rather than a concrete walkway, you can dig a trench around it to expose the perimeter and add rigid EPS or XPS foam insulation panels (not polyiso, it absorbs water). If you do this, take the time to add perimeter drains too; there'll never be a better time.

If that's not an option, and I assume you'd like to keep the tile flooring, you can always cover it up with rugs. It's surprisingly effective. Russians love their rugs.

Finally, it sounds like you have a poorly-designed heating system. Even in a badly-insulated house, heat isn't supposed to pool in the second floor like that. Old houses with ducted furnaces but lacking much insulation commonly had all the returns on the first floor to encourage air mixing. But without more details about your heating system, it's hard to say more.

  • Great information! The heating system is probably not designed correctly. My downstairs is an L shape. There are three ducts, two in between the dining area and the kitchen which are right next to each other and one in the living room about 5 feet from the opening from the stairs and it is facing the stairs. Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 3:17
  • There are no air returns downstairs, but there is one right at the top of the stairs on the bottom of the wall above the stairs. Basically the air from the living room vent goes straight to that return. There are 4 rooms upstairs and each room has its own air return. Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 3:17

Solution offered by iLikeDirt is good but not complete; actually it doesn't solve the biggest problem. Fact is that your home has insulation problem that's why ground floor is so cold. You can and should put insulation around perimeter, but you should also out some insolation on the floor. Best solution would be to put it under a concrete slab, but since this isn't an option you can put some insulation (Styrofoam) and then cement screed to cover it. Finishing layer is not important, meaning you can put whatever you want (tiles, wooden floor etc.).You can do this even on top of existing tiles. Only downside with this solution is that in this room you will lose some of the ceiling height.

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