Need help understanding very old natural gas furnace

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Hello all,
In my struggle to find somewhere affordable and convenient to live, I decid ed to forego some 'luxuries' like central heat/air, after all the weather i s pretty mild where I live.
We've hit a bit of a cold spell though, and my 100 year old windows offer n o help to the dinky electrical space heater I thought would suffice, so I'm looking at this old natural gas furnace that's been sitting in the corner of my room and wishing I had asked my landlord about it before he left for a while.
Pictures: http://imgur.com/a/OJdKp
There is no electrical cord involved (though an ethernet cable can be seen in some pictures)
My inclination (assuming no one talks me out of it, is to open up the main gas valve, and fiddle with the little internal valve while trying to light the pilot light, but after that I have no idea what to do or expect, so any insight is appreciated.
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Is this a "Space Heater" or a "Furnace"? From the photos it sure looks like a space heater, not a furnace.
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On 1/4/2015 6:42 PM, snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Also has a standing pilot. A wild pilot, no less.
Pilot valve is before the gas valve. I'd love to see this old equipment in person. It's probably not got many safeties on it.
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If there is not an electrical connection, there is no blower, then it must heat a grid and then the grid/ceramic waffle-shaped stone must put out infrared heat. This is what most of us would call a space heater.
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Tyler Wood wrote:

hrhoffman is tight , it's technically a space heater , and a big one .
OK , when you open the main gas valve , you should have gas coming out the pilot - the small thing you circled . The valve inside the heater is the main burner valve , and you can regulate the flame size with it . THIS HEATER HAS NO SAFETY SHUTOFFS !! IF THE FLAME GOES OUT YOU'RE GOING TO BE POURING GAS INTO THE ROOM , AND YOU WILL EITHER BLOW UP THE BUILDING OR DIE FROM THE GAS . DO NOT BURN THIS HEATER WHILE SLEEPING OR WHILE NOT AT HOME !!
--
Snag



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On Sun, 4 Jan 2015 15:26:18 -0800 (PST), Tyler Wood

I didn't look closely at the pictures, and after I read the next answer, the possibility in the paragraphs below of finding someone with the same unit seems less likely, but still possible. Maybe more than one apartment has the same thing, or maybe someone used to help the previous person in your apartment use hers. Ask around.
Any other people in the building, who might have been around the last time the furnace was used, or heard people discussing it? Or better yet, maybe who has a furnace like yours?? Any identical-looking buildings on the block where the same furnace might be still used?
People love to be helpful in person, just like on the ng. Ask nicely and don't show a knife, and most will let you in and show you what they know.
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On Sun, 4 Jan 2015 15:42:07 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net"

From the pics, it looks like a space heater to me. On fact it looks like one I had in a house I rented in the 70s. It was in our living room, and heated well, but the other rooms would be on the cold side. We used 1 or 2 fans blowing out of the living rm doorways to get the heat to circulate to other rooms. That worked good.
The OP said he dont normally need it, but is having a cold spell. It should work just fine for that. But I'd check to make sure the chimney and pipes are clean and open, and make sure the flame compartment has no holes. Check pipes for gas leaks too. Just a safety precaution, since it's old.
Mine had a ceramic "grid" on front of the flame, which was visible thru glass. I kind of liked the "fireplace look".
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wrote:

How do you know he's TIGHT ? :)

This must be a REAL OLD heater. I had to take a second look at the pics. It dont even have a thermocouple and pilot push button to light it. I would not want to use that for regular heating, but for occasional use, I suppose it's ok, but needs to be watched. I'd be inclined to either replace it, or take a water heater control and rig in into the piping so that there is a thermocouple controlling the pilot. I dont like the idea of this not shutting off the gas if the pilot goes out. It probably would not be that hard to modify, but I know what I;m doing, so I wont recommend anyone else to do it.
That screw where the gas pipe connects, is to adjust the pilot flame size.
When the outdoor temp rises, I'd shut off the gas entirely to it.
I believe the OP said he has a landlord. If it was mine, I'd ask the landlord to get something newer, and explain why. It probably violates the hme insurance too. You should be able to get a newer (used) heater fairly cheap.
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snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com wrote:

Well isn't it obvious ? Actually that was a typo , I meant "right" .
--
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First off, let me thank you all for the incredible amount of help your responses have been! Especially the warnings about only using it when I can be there to ensure the pilot light is on.
As requested, here is a picture of the front.
http://imgur.com/Wy6fikX
I bought a long lighter as recommended and will try to light the pilot light now and I'll let you know how it goes =)
I guess what I'm still unsure of is what the internal valve does -- Some have said it regulates the size of the pilot light, but what is the purpose of that? Is it somehow controlling the amount of heat generated?
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On Sunday, January 4, 2015 9:24:39 PM UTC-5, Tyler Wood wrote:

From what I see, the internal valve you're talking about is the only thing that determines if the burner is lit or not. Is there any other control? If not, then yes it would regulate the gas from min to max. You definitely don't want it too low, where it runs the risk of somehow going out from a wind gust, etc.
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Okay, pilot light is lit and burning. I've set the internal valve to fully open, as the closing it all would kill the pilot light. The main gas connec tion is as open as I can get it without really forcing it (only about a qua rter rotation).
Any idea of how long it would take to feel heat, or if there is anything el se required of me? I've looked all over and haven't seen any other dials or the like. All I can tell that has changed is that the pilot light is burni ng. It's been about 5 min and no noticeable heat to it.
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@Oren, OP is here and giving progress along the way -- going on about 20 minutes of having it lit and still no real heat, but I must admit the top feels slightly warm.
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On Sunday, January 4, 2015 8:52:47 PM UTC-6, Tyler Wood wrote:
Tyler, the thing you have labelled/circled "i can turn this", needs to be turned 90 degrees towards you to be fully open for the main burner feed. And if it lights...never leave the room!
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If the main valve was open, you should be able to hear the flame and you should have heat in a couple of minutes, so something is definitely not right!!!!
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Tyler Wood wrote:

OK , the valve INSIDE the heater should control the main burner , not the pilot . You'll note that that valve comes after the tubing that feeds the pilot . If you're talking about the one that has a slotted screw , that is the pilot regulator valve . The burner valve is the one that's similar to the main supply valve , and turning it to line up parallel to the pipe opens it .
--
Snag



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On Sun, 4 Jan 2015 18:33:39 -0800 (PST), Tyler Wood
valve to fully open, as the closing it all would kill the pilot light. The main gas connection is as open as I can get it without really forcing it (only about a quarter rotation).

anything else required of me? I've looked all over and haven't seen any other dials or the like. All I can tell that has changed is that the pilot light is burning. It's been about 5 min and no noticeable heat to it.
-----
That piece right behind the pilot light appears to be the main burner. It looks to have numerous holes on top, which would mean a small flame comes out of each hole. (similar to a gas range). You should see hlame along that piece, or you wont feel any heat. Just look at it.
To me, that internal valve looks to be no more than a gas shutoff valve, but I could be wrong. Maybe you have it set the wrong way, but if the pilot goes out, then I guess that wont work. In that case, I dont know what to tell you. There almost has to be some sort of internal thermostat, or the heater would never shut off, and it could get wayyyyyy to hot in the house.
One one pic. it looks like there is a door one one side. Look in there for some sort of control. Or does the front panel lift off? (I saw the pic of the front, and yea, I have seen those space heaters years ago). Look UNDER that front panel too!
But you cant have a heater without some sort of control, or it will burn all the time. Maybe it even has a means to shut off the gas if the pilot goes off, but that can not be seen from the photos.
I'm trying to remember back 40+ years to the stove we had in that rental house, and even though the stove looked different, it was somewhat similar. It seems to me there was a control in panel on the side!
*Take a picture of what's inside that side door, and post that too.
I'm wondering of there WAS an electric cord at one time and it came off. Be sure to look UNDER the stove. Or maybe it needs an external thermostat, and that's gone. IT MAY NEED ELECTRICITY TO OPERATE AN INTERNAL (or missing external) THERMOSTAT.
Cant you phone your landlord and ask about it???? Even if he's out of town, most people have a cellphone these days.
BTW: I like the looks of the decorative plate (piece on the wall around the chimney pipe).
One other thing, I'd remove your coax ethernet cable from inside the stove or it may melt. Not sure why you have it routed thru the stove.
One last thing. Is there a name tag and model number on it? Look everywhere, especially on the back and in the side panel. Maybe you can google up some more info. There should be some sort of identification.
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snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

I wonder if the main jet is plugged ? From what he's posted , the OP probably shouldn't investigate further than turning valves . Not trying to be derogatory , but some people just don't have The Knack .
--
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Looks like it is an OLD unit with no thermocouple or any other flame sensor, so never leave the house without shutting off the gas, in case the pilot light goes out.
Newer units have a gas control valve with a button that needs to be pushed/held to light the pilot, and if the pilot goes out the gas is shut off.
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I am on the page of contacting the landlord with the specific message the a mbient temperature of your apt is "x" and you will need it to be "y" His alternatives are to call a furnace repair tech to light the antique and sh ow you how to operate, or replace with any heating technology from the curr ent century, or you take matters into your hands and bill him , or you con sider breaking the lease through whatever provisions your state/city have f or slumlords.
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