Need help understanding very old natural gas furnace

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On 01/04/2015 10:08 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:
[snip]

My NG furnace (installed April 2013) has no pilot light. Instead is uses an electrically heated surface to light the gas. It glows orange.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
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On Monday, January 5, 2015 11:38:43 AM UTC-6, Mark Lloyd wrote:

That would require it to be plugged-in...and a cheap retro-fit was suggested for safety.
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On Sun, 04 Jan 2015 23:08:14 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

This has me confused. That pilot fitting is tapped right into the steel reducer fitting, coming from the gas supply. That does not look original. I've never seen such a thing!!!!
Yet, the OP said that if he shuts off that 'internal' gas valve, which is AFTER the pilot, the pilot wont stay lit. That makes no sense to me. That internal valve should only supply the main burner with gas.
Either way, there is no known control. There HAS to be a control of some sort. You cant just leave the thing burning full blast in any temperature. Without a control, it would continue to burn full blast even if the weather warmed up outdoors, and could make the house so hot it could cause a fire or at least start to melt and damage things, if no one shut it off. Antique or not, they couldn't have been that stupid to design it without some sort of control, even in the 1940's (which I'd estimate it to be).
I'm thinking the OP is missing the control. I still think it's inside that side door panel. There may even be a pilot shutdown device in case it goes out. Otherwise why would the pilot go off when the main valve is shut off.
I wish the OP would post the make and model of this heater, as well as a photo inside that side door.
Using Google, and going to IMAGES, I searched for "old natural gas heater". I did not see one that matched the front of it. I did find this ebay page which has lots of pics of old heaters. Some of them are just fun to look at..... http://www.ebay.com/bhp/antique-gas-heater
Then I found this one. http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-GAS-STOVE-FURNACE-MONOGRAM-ROOM-HEATER-13000 -60000-BTU-HR-GARAGE-/371224992275
That's identical or very similar to the one I had years ago in my rented house. So now I know I had a "Monogram" brand heater. That brings back some memories! Those ceramic tiles got red hot and added a nice glow at night.
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Hey! It worked!
Sorry for the delay, I left to go to dinner (but I turned the gas off first !).
I read through all the responses and the insistence that there must be some burner control led me to spend a few minutes running my hands all around i t to search for anything else. After not finding anything, I decided to exp eriment more with the one control I did find inside the panel.
The little valve in there -- when it is turned all the way pointing towards me does indeed turn the burner off, but at an intermediate angle I could h ear a hissing from inside the vent, so I stuck my lighter in there and it a ll lit up.
Thanks for all the words of caution though, I'll only run this while I'm aw ake and get my room nice and toasty before turning all the valves to off an d falling asleep.
For some of the other questions -- no make or model, this apt is quite old (early 19xx) and I'd imagine so is this space heater. Also, the thing is on e solid unit, nothing comes apart, only the one little door opens. Lastly, there is a large ceramic plate in the front of it that you can see through the front grill. And oh yeah, the ethernet cord, it wasn't routed through, but since I never anticipated using the thing I was not cautious about what cluttered up around it. It's all cleared now though.
Picture: http://imgur.com/lVdH1v8
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On 1/5/2015 12:41 AM, Tyler Wood wrote:

Make all of us safety conscious types feel better and don't use that thing much at all until and unless you go to your favorite big box store and get a carbon monoxide detector for the room where your space heater is. Just because it is supposedly vented to the outside doesn't mean that you can't have problems with CO, especially with such old hardware. In any case, if you find yourself getting at all drowsy, nauseated, confused, dizzy, or otherwise feeling unwell, turn the gas completely off, open the windows and doors, and go outside for at least 1/2 hour and let the room thoroughly ventilate. If you don't feel better after that time or are feeling worse, seek emergency medical care. Better safe than dead.
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On 01/04/2015 11:41 PM, Tyler Wood wrote:

...

...

Didn't have time before...that's an old "wild pilot" setup--didn't see if you ever said where you're located but no jurisdiction I'm aware of allows those any longer--here, if a service tech even sees one he's _required_ to disable it immediately until it has a safety pilot installed.
I've one of early 40s vintage in the well house that I retrofitted a few years back. By watching eBay I managed to do it all for very reasonable price of only about $25 overall including the valve, a new pilot assembly and thermocouple.
I'd _strongly_ recommend doing the same there--mount the actual valve itself on solid pipe outside the heater where the present flex starts.
I'll try to find time to take and post some pictures of the retrofit here as guidance. It's not difficult and adds a tremendous amount of safety.
Here's the type you can use...this is 3/8", not sure whether that's a 3/8" or 1/2" line but 3/8" should be plenty of capacity for that heater...
<http://www.ebay.com/itm/White-Rodges-Gas-Safety-Control-Valve-764-208-3-8-x-3-8-Pipe-/111561466385?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19f994e211 Need a pilot light assembly and thermocouple to go with it and you're done.
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On Sun, 4 Jan 2015 21:41:51 -0800 (PST), Tyler Wood

Great!!!!
I can see from your pictures that this is an old apt. Of course, that is not bad. I like the look of the old WIDE woodwork and like the plate around the chimney, its decorative. Kind of reminds me of my grandmothers's house from when I was a kid.
The heater has probably been there since the bldg was new. The ceramic is not visible in your pics, but that is how they were often made. There is likely a MICA window over it.
Apparently that inside valve /IS/ the control. I wonder if it would shut off when the room temp gets to a certain warmth.
There has to be a way to open it, there may be screws on the back, and the whole outer shell (enclosure) comes off. But you dont need to do that now. I'd think that there would be a label somewhere on it. Back then (like now) they want to advertise their product. But maybe someone removed it. I'd suspect it on the rear, since it's not on the front. It looks to me like someone braze welded that door hinge. The shiny brass with white coating (flux residue) around it.
Anyhow, it works and you're warm, just be careful with it. And I'd still ask your landlord what he knows about it when you see him. He might know more.....
If anyone happens across a web photo of this same heater, please post the URL. I'm curious what brand it is.....
Note: That Monogram brand heater I said is the same as the one I used to have, has multiple photos on the ebay page, and the cover was removed, and exposes a temperature sensor above the heat exchanger. But that heater has more for controls and a safety shutoff. (and is likely about 10 to 20 years newer.... I estimate 1940s).
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wrote:

A lot of people felt that way on New Years Eve, but it had nothing to do with any sort of heater, or gas <LOL>
On a serious note, the OP could test to make sure the chimney is working by simply holding a lit cigarette in front of the chimney pipe. (Yea, you dont have to smoke it, if that offends you)... If the smoke is sucked up the pipe, you know the chimney is working. A low tech way to check a chimney, which has been used for ages....
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On Mon, 05 Jan 2015 15:09:29 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@spamblocked.com wrote:

chimney has a good draft it will ROAR and suck the fire up the pipe.
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OP here again. After it started burning I began wondering about the state o f the chimney and some google searches suggested the CO could be a problem in inadequately vented natural gas burners (especially where the burner may be dirty or otherwise unable of fully burning the gas). After about 30 min utes I noticed I was feeling dizzy, so I opened my window, turned on a fan, turned off the heater and went outside for a bit.
A while later, after getting sufficiently paranoid, I remembered a CO alarm that I had neglected to set up (won't make that mistake again) and turned that on, tested it and set it in the room with the furnace while I went out side again.
The alarm never went off, so I put on some winter clothes, bundled up and w ent to sleep with a window open and the fan running. I suppose the overall draftiness of my old windows was a boon in this situation. Not the best nig ht of sleep I've ever had, but I'm glad I caught it when I did.
Probably preaching to the choir but get CO detectors! Could have saved myse lf a headache and a lot of worry had I taken the time to set mine up.
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bob_villa wrote:

There are units that use a thermopile to power a gas valve (with all usual safeties) thru a thermostat . Best bet for safe controllable heat , especially since he is vented <assumes vent is functional ...> .
--
Snag



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On Monday, January 5, 2015 5:52:53 PM UTC-6, Terry Coombs wrote:

But that would not be pilotless...he was talking Hot Surface Ignitor.
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On Mon, 5 Jan 2015 14:28:45 -0800 (PST), Tyler Wood

could be a problem in inadequately vented natural gas burners (especially where the burner may be dirty or otherwise unable of fully burning the gas). After about 30 minutes I noticed I was feeling dizzy, so I opened my window, turned on a fan, turned off the heater and went outside for a bit.

-----
If you plan to use the heater again, test that chinmey. If you dont have a cigarette, light a piece of paper and see if the smoke gets sucked into the pipe. (Have a pail of water to extinguish the paper).
If the chimney is blocked, dont use the heater till it's fixed. If not, I think you need to talk to your landlord for a newer heater.
You really did not have to leave a window open of fan on all night. A half hour with open windows and fan should have aired out the house.
If the CO detector did not go off, I dont think the heater was leaking fumes, but it's hard to say.
You might be better off just getting an electric blanket and one of those small electric ceramic space heaters, since you only need this occasionally.
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All newer furnaces and even gas water heaters use that now. Even the self igniting gas ranges. It saves gas. THe pilot light is small, but it works all the time. That does eat up fuel over time. In the summer, I always shut off the pilot on my older furnace. No sense wasting gas, and adding heat to an already too hot house. In winter, that little pilot light adds to the heat, so it's not that big a deal. I do like the self ignitors though.
Some use a heated coil, others use a spark gap. The gas kitchen ranges that snap, use the spark gap. (Basically a spark plug sort of device).
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If no one said this already... It looks to me that the little silver screw in the side of the small pipe Is the control for the pilot. Use a screw driver to control the size of The pilot. The larger handle is the valve for the main burner. If you are going to light this by hand with your lighter You dont need the pilot, screw it all the way in. If you don't already know all this, this thing is dangerous for you to use. Get a co detector. Dont leave it on unattended. Get some help from someone there. Mark Mark
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bob_villa wrote:

The OP has (apparently) no power near the unit . These operate w/out the need for a power cord . Many are ventless too , though those also come with other problems .
--
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On 01/04/2015 5:26 PM, Tyler Wood wrote: ...
Per my comment/suggestion of a day or so ago, I did take some pictures of the well house heater with the new safety control valve and updated pilot/TC.
They're at <http://imgur.com/a/3ggB8
First one for comparison shows the old wild pilot valve; it was where the safety control valve is presently. These pieces are generally pretty carefully sized; the length of the new valve body is the same as that of this one; didn't have to change the piping itself at all.
Second is an overview of the setup, then one of the new pilot assembly/TC in place. I bought it locally at a HVAC contracting shop so could compare orientation with the original in selection one that would fit and have the flame in the proper location. One can see the burner feed at the bottom and the pilot feed tube and the thermocouple lead at the bottom.
Then the new valve in position and a couple of the original temperature control; in the first of those two, that's its thermocouple lead wrapped around it in loops; the TC body is the larger horizontal "tube" above can see a little of; it fits in a bracket on the back of the heater or could be moved elsewhere. As can see from the dial, there's no calibrated temperature settings, just markings from low to high. In the well house I keep it at the minimum and it stays between 55-65F depending on just how cold it does get outside. It's an uninsulated block building as can be seen from walls but I did add 6" fiberglass on the ceiling that helps...
Hope that helps visualize the setup and that it isn't that complicated to make the existing heater _much_ safer. Now if the pilot does blow out, there is no gas flowing; before with the wild pilot, it's on irregardless. It was that way from the early 60s until just a few years ago and never did have a problem to the level it caused a catastrophe but it did on several occasions go out and had some pretty good gas buildup. We always checked on it pretty regularly, though...now I don't have to worry about an explosion when the pressure switch kicks on but only ensure that it is still lit so.
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