Problems with my heater

I recently moved in to a new apartment that is a little loft above a garage. It has AC, with the compressor unit outside and the evaporator coils inside, and a heater. There is a single thermostat that controls this system, letting me choose between heat, off, or AC, and fan speeds.

Now, the AC works great, but the heater, not so well. Its a gas heater with an automatic pilot light. The pilot light ignites just fine, and the fan runs, and air comes out of the vents, but its cool air. There is no heat whatsoever coming out of my vents. This is a problem, as I live in an area where the temperature can get quite low at night, i.e. below zero, so I turn to the Dope for help to solve this problem. Any ideas?

Mines Mystique

Have you tried letting it run a bit to warm up, or does it stay the same temperature regardless of how long it’s been on? I hope you get the problem fixed in any case. Good luck.

On forced air systems, there’s a fan control which delays energization of the fan switch until the heat exchanger is up to temp. If the fan is coming on as soon as the thermostat calls for heat, it will take forever for you to detect really warm air from the discharge vents.

Proper operational sequence: Tstat calls>ignition device active>flame verified>full burner>fan run setting satisfied>fan on>tstat satisfied>burner off>fan off at low limit.

You might also want to consult your landlord about how your heating system is supposed to operate.

There may be a gas valve turned off for the summer or??? Presumably you are renting, so check with the landlord.
A down or feather comforter will help in the meantime.

Yup, I’ve let it run all night, with no change in the temperature. Sounds like the consensus is to ask my landlord, so I will try that. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Mines Mystique

An Update: In doing some troubleshooting, I discovered that the filter was filthy, so I cleaned that. Then, I flipped the thermostat control from heat to cool, and let it run for a few seconds, then flipped it back, and lo and behold, the main burners came on and I got heat out of the registers. So, for some reason, the pilot light wasn’t lighting the main burners, hence I wasn’t getting any heat. I’ve got the temp set where I would like it, so we’ll see what happens with it. Thanks for all your help.

Mines Mystique

In reality, the thermostat was not activating the gas valve for the main burner. If the pilot was failing to ignite the gas with the main burner valve open, you’d have been smelling gas.

Might have been something as innocent as just enough crud on the contacts in the thermostat, or the switch wasn’t fully pushed over to “HEAT” previously. Either way, cycling the switch back and forth seems to have cured the problem.

If the thermostat isn’t programmable, you might want to consider replacing it with a modern programmable one - you’ll more than recover the cost (they start at about $30) in just one heating season if you set it to lower the temperature during the day when you’re away, and at night when you’re sleeping.

If you can hook up stereo speakers, you should be able to do this yourself - normally, there’s just four or five color-coded wires involved with a heat and cool thermostat.