Info on vintage recessed wall heater?


Hi there,
My apartment complex was built in the late 50's, and has for the most part the original appliances in each unit. (They're actually quite charming. Push-button electric ranges!) My question concerns the natural gas heater that I've got.
The model is a "Custom-Aire vented recessed wall heater" that is installed in the wall between a room and a hallway. It uses natural gas, and the pilot and ignition work fine. The problem as I see it seems to be that it may have had a fan or blower attached at some point, and if so it isn't working any more. Signs pointing to this are the fact that the wall above the heater on one side seems to creak when the heater goes on, and there's a crack in the plaster where the wall gets *very* warm. I think if there was a blower or something, the air would be circulating fast enough to prevent this, though I could be wrong.
At this point, anything within the upper metal grills/housing is a mystery. I got the bottom grill panel off and looked inside the bottom half of the heater, but I don't have a clue as to what some of the stuff does. There's an obvious gas pipe with a valve, the pilot pipe with a separate valve, two large cones that I'm guessing are for adjusting the air/gas mixture, wires leading to the thermostat (which seems to be only half-functioning, but that's another story entirely) and a black sort of brick with wires going to it. Does anyone have any ideas on what's normal to see in a heater of this age? Diagrams would be especially helpful.
Thanks! -Laura
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turn unit off. get repaired. maybe high limit sensor not working? if it is electrical it may be connected to the heat exchanger in the upper area. if it is a millivolt heater it may be a long copper capillary bulb that connects to the gas valve. blower may be optional? also check your carbon monoxide alarm it will sometimes tell you when the heat exchanger is cracked.
Laura R wrote:

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I'm surprised the unit fires up without the blower ( if there is supposed to be one) because most of those vented wall funaces have a sail switch that senses if the the blower is running. If it senses the blower is not running, it will never fire up, unless someone bypassed the switch. I agree with the other poster, have a qualified tech look at it.
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Laura R wrote:

Since you are in apartment you might be able to inspect the heater of another resident to see it there is any difference. I doubt if there is a blower unit on your heater. I agree with the other poster that the unit should be checked. Call the landlord and tell him you are worried about the heater. Ask him if there is supposed to be a blower or if the wall should be so hot. Heaters have improved a lot over the years. You might be able to get a new one.
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replying to Laura R, City Planner wrote:

Hi, I am a City Planner and am looking for one of these late 40's thru 50's direct vent gas wall heaters for an historical road-motel renovation. The appliance does not need to be in working order. If anyone of you were to replace this item, I would like to have them, please post a reply here.
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Laura,
I agree about checking another unit, preferably one with the same floor pla n, maybe one directly below or above your unit. Is it a condo, or do you r ent the unit? If rental,turn the investigation over to the super or the ow ner. If a condo, do as suggested and report back here, we are a fairly fri endly group, especially if someone has a legitimate concern like you do.
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On 7/23/2014 8:49 PM, snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Laura posted her message in 2006, so I expect the problem has been resolved by now.
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