heating imbalance in townhouse


I just moved to a new town and the Wife and I are renting one of these "three-story" townhouses and have discovered the heating is just whacked. It's forced hot air (natural gas). There's a ten degree difference between the first and third floors, and I don't know what to do.
The first floor contains a garage and family room, which is ~66F day and night.
The second floor is the main living level - a living room/dining room over the garage and a kitchen/dining area over the family room. Temp in the living room is ~68F. The thermostat is on the wall in the doorway between LR/DR and kitchen and is always set to 71F.
The third floor is three bedrooms, 2 small and one master with cathedral ceiling and ceiling fan. The upstairs registers are always closed. The temp avgs. 75F during the day and bumps to 77-78F in the morning. The MBR faces east, as does the kitchen.
The HVAC has no zones - just the usual aluminum-faced fiberglass ductwork going to the upper floors - so I can't control what heated air goes where short of closing registers. None of the air returns are blocked on any of the three levels, so I don't believe it's that, and a sheet of paper does get sucked against the returns when the heat is running.
Since this is a rental and I can't go cutting into ductwork and the like to install zones, short of getting space heaters, do I have any options to reduce the temp in the bedrooms a bit? Even though the ceiling of the garage is insulated, could we be losing heat through the living room floor, and that's why it's cooler, even in the afternoons when we get sun there?
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Sounds a bit like my old house. You need to balance what you have. The most obvious step is to close down the registers in the over heated spaces. This brings in less warmed air to that room and forces more into the areas that are cooler. Given the high temperature of hte bedrooms, I'd shut them down most of the way or even completely.
It may be helpful to have a fan someplace to move air to where you want the heat too. Another possibility is to have the blower run continuously so that air is moving between zones all the time. Experiment over a few day and allow some time between adjustments to see results.
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Sadly, this is a very common problem.
1. Check the filters (make sure you've found all of them) and replace if appropriate.
2. Balance the registers as far as you can.
3. Assuming heating costs are a concern, I'd consider lowering the thermostat setting and adding a space heater of some kind to the family room. This will likely reduce your gas bill by a significant amount.
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What's wrong with closing registers? I do that and it works for me.

If the return was blocked, you wouldn't get much heat, and you have a lot of heat.
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Is there a way to set your furnace fan to run all the time? Because it sounds like you've got enough heat, it's just in the wrong place. circulating the air with your existing handler should fix that.
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Thanks to all of you who replied. We called the property management company who said it sounded as though someone should take a look, and did.
First, I was not clear in my OP because we had closed the registers in all the rooms on the bedroom level and it still was waaaay out of whack temperature-wise.
The HVAC guy who came out suggested just what you did, Goedjn, which is to keep the blower running constantly in order to move the air around and even out the temps. He says it's the equivalent of keeping two 100 watt bulbs on all the time, so I guess we won't have that much of a hit in the electric bill.
There are three issues: (1) the strike plate on the door between the family room and the garage was not installed properly so there's a gap around the seal and air comes in there (temp solution: seal the door shut with seal 'n peel caulk until I can fix that this Spring); (2) the house faces east-west which means there will always be a temperature imbalance front-to-back on sunny days; and here's the biggie (3) the HVAC system should never have been installed where it was and how it was. The ducts have so many twists and turns over I- beams and around joists in order to get them run to some rooms that the air is effectively blocked, which is why we have almost no hot air coming out the ducts in the living room.
Now if only we could get the humidity over 21%, we might actually be somewhere approximately close to comfortable this Winter. I never thought I'd say this about a house with no insulation in the walls, but I miss my old house with the fantastic circa 1950 ducts and the Aprilaire 600 whole house humidifier...
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You should be able to get an inline booster fan for the room-end of the excessively twisty ducts.
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An option I would definitely consider except I haven't been able to find a "temporary" booster fan, and will not go to the time and expense of installing something in what is someone else's house. The HOs do not seem concerned about mitigating the problem, so the wife and I will adjust accordingly.
The good news is the HVAC guy from the property management company told us we stand to have lower cooling bills than average this Summer since cold air pushed to the second floor will come down the steps and keep the first floor temperate.
We just have to have sweaters and blankets available on the lower floors in the Winter...
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He is an idiot. You pay, one way or another, to remove the heat from the air.
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