We are having a power outage in much of Los Angeles right now, big storm (02/17/17 3:55PM). I have a gas wall heater, pilot is lit, but no power to the wall thermostat. Can I turn on the unit manually to get heat? wall heater


  • Usually you need the power to activate the 24v system to open and close the gas valve solenoid(s). Unless you have a generator or some way to provide power to the gas valve, then no, there is no way. – Jeff Cates Feb 18 '17 at 0:15
  • What make and model is this heater? – ThreePhaseEel Feb 18 '17 at 0:17
  • It's a cottage with a wall heater. The thermostat is electric but there is no blower and the pilot light is on, gas is flowing. I don't think there is a "reset" on the wall thermostat. It's very simple-not digital. – M.Mat Feb 18 '17 at 0:19

When you have time, do this to trouble shoot this heater. This gas valve is powered by a pilot generator. If you have a volt meter follow the 2 wires from the pilot to where they connect. check the output voltage on these wires. The voltage should be about 3/4 volts DC. If you get the 3/4 volts dc, disconnect the wires. Did the pilot go out? If it did relight the pilot. this proves that the pilot generator is working. Next, if the gas valve does not click when the thermostat is turned up and down, put a jumper wire on the control circuit. If the gas valve clicks the problem is in the control circuit. You stated earlier that the gas valve clicked when you jumped out the control circuit. If the valve clicked but the gas did not light, you may have a spider web in the orfice of the gas input line at the burner. You will need to take out the burner remove the gas orfice from the gas pipe at the burner and clean it out. reassembly and retry the heater. Spiders in gas orfices are rare but they do happen. I know I have cleaned out a few. They crawl in when the heater is off for an extended period of time.

  • Wow. thanks for the thorough instructions d,george. Going to add this to my to-do list. The spider thing may be a possibility given this is Los Angeles and the heater is not often used. I'll check back in after I've done the troubleshooting. – M.Mat Feb 18 '17 at 12:59

Gas Empire-style wall heaters use millivolt thermostats. They have two wires going to the thermostat, and if those wires are connected to each other, that is a "call for heat" and the heater should fire.

So, you have a system that requires AC power? Either it's not an Empire-style millivolt system... or somebody's hacked it in some weird way, e.g. to use a Nest style thermostat.

If they hack it like that, they should connect the new relay/whatever/thing in parallel with the original thermostat, and leave that in place for just this contingency.

Northeasterners/Midwesterners: This type of system is nothing like anything you know. It is a closely held secret by Floridians, Pacific Coasters, and the northeastern HVAC cartels, and at this point, my job is to convince you that it doesn't exist. Furnaces that can work on gas alone, without electricity? Absurd. Just ask your HVAC distributor. These aren't the heaters you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

  • How do I add photos to this post on my iPhone? – M.Mat Feb 18 '17 at 0:29
  • Native iPhone photos are too large. Take the photo, email it to yourself which will create a much smaller version of the photo. Then read the email and save the photo to Photos. Then you can insert it in the usual way. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 18 '17 at 0:31
  • Yes, 2 wires to wall thermostat. Are you saying, at the heater to disconnect the two wires and join them together to fire the heater? – M.Mat Feb 18 '17 at 0:33
  • I would do it at the thermostat if feasible, that way you're sure you have the right two wires. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 18 '17 at 0:34
  • So, I disconnected the red wire and white wire from thermostat, connected them together and nothing. I checked at the heater to make sure these same wires were connected at the heater-they are. Any other suggestions? And thank you for your attention to my problem. – M.Mat Feb 18 '17 at 0:53

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