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Furnace acting up...plus useless landlord

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (Not Computer-Related)' started by cluelesschick, Nov 3, 2011.

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  1. cluelesschick

    cluelesschick Thread Starter

    Nov 3, 2011
    Hi there,

    I hope someone can provide a few possibilities as to what might be going on with my furnace.

    When I turn the thermostat up, any of the following 3 things happens:

    1. It either starts up just fine (rarely though)
    2. Does not make a sound and the house stays freezing until it decides to try and kick in an hour or so later. -this happens the most.
    3. It attempts to start with a series of clicks - usually about 5 attempts before it gives up and shuts off.

    When I turn on the switch near the thermostat that circulates the air in the house right before I turn up the thermostat, the furnace will almost always at least try and start (but usually fail) rather than staying silent as it often does.

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. My landlord is lazy and cheap and thinks the problem is just 'reseting it' and shutting off the breaker momentarily. It fires up after he fiddles with it, so he thinks it's fixed, but then it just goes back to its usual crappiness after it's been off for a while. I'm hoping to throw a few ideas at him that he can check out since he doesn't seem keen on spending $ to bring in a professional.

    Please help! Winters almost here :(
  2. Elvandil


    Aug 1, 2003
    Someone should take a look at it. It may need a new nozzle if it hasn't been replaced in a while.

    But, be aware that every time someone presses the reset switch on the furnace. a squirt of fuel goes into the firebox. If that button is pressed too many times between ignitions, all that fuel can light at once, leading to a runaway burn. That is why the furnace only tries 5 times before quitting because more than that and lighting could be dangerous.

    This is not something that people should fool with if they don't know what they are doing. A nozzle is cheap (if that is what it needs) and takes less than an hour of labor to change. (I'm assuming an oil furnace in all that I have said.)

    If he is really cheap, make sure that he doesn't try to bypass safety devices in order to get the thing to light, like the electric eye that senses whether there is a flame.
  3. daniel_b2380


    Jan 31, 2003
    IF it is an oil unit, AND the landlord is that tight - probably hasn't had any servicing - so would need the whole system serviced - the nozzle you mentioned, the filter, likely need the ignition system checked, serviced, and adjusted - maybe even replace the igniter electrodes too

    and when was the last time someone checked the tank about tank moisture condensate - that's why the extra valve is usually installed on the feed line :D

    guess we'll have to wait to see if the op posts back to tell us anything else :)
  4. brbpab94


    Nov 25, 2002
    If it's an oil unit replace the nozzle and the filter that should do it but if you haven't done it before hire someone. it's about 100 bucks.
  5. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned

    Dec 9, 2004
    Since you rent and do not own the property, you need to follow the landlord/tenant laws in your state for repairs. If you just go hire someone to fix it, you're not just out the money, but you could be sued or evicted.

    Put all requests for service in writing to your landlord. Send them certified mail with signature confirmation to have proof he received them. After a certain number of attempts to have the problem fixed (process varies by state), you may have the right to have the repairs made yourself and subtract the cost of those repairs from your rent.

    If you live in a cold-weather climate area, and the furnace does not heat the apartment up to the required temperature (again, varies by state), then the landlord is in violation of the law, and you can report him/her to the appropriate agency / authority.

    Now for the practical advice. It's all fine and dandy to exercise your legal rights, but your landlord also has legal rights, and he can decide to not renew your lease, raise the rent, or change the terms of the lease to be rather unpleasant.

    Be courteous, professional, and unemotional. Follow the law, but don't get into screaming matches with him. It's just business.

    And save for a house.
  6. Steve0820


    Nov 15, 2011
    Being a HVAC tech I was about to get involved in diagnosing the problem. However DoubleHelix above has the best solution. Sounds like you have an ignition problem so if you're a novice you could cause an explosion if you make the wrong move, particulary if it's a gas system.
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