I don’t know where you are but no-heat is classified as an emergency service and is unlawful if not responded to within 24 hours for the following states: Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Delaware, Tennessee, and Oregon. I’m sure it’s the same in other states but those are just the ones that I know (used to do residential leasing work in/for these states).
It does not necessarily need to be *fixed* but they do have to respond to your claim and check it out (phsyically enter the living quarters) and if they cannot fix it, they must document their efforts sufficiently to show good-will of their attempt to fix it. I know ALL but one of the no-heats I’ve handled were fixable within that time frame.
Particularly since nearly all furnaces have some sort of reading/error system that will code/flash lights, giving you an indication of what the problem is. It’s usually on the front of the furnace and if you don’t see it directly head on, look to the side and you should see something. There will be a light (usually green or orange/redish) that will blink once, twice, three times, etc. in a pattern and if you take the cover off (usually just two simple screws holding it in or just snaps into place), you’ll be able to see what the code means.
Now, I don’t recommend and do not accept any liability if you try to fix it yourself but if your t-stat is set to X degrees and it’s not getting to that and you can hear the furnace trying to kick on, it just might be a sensor issue. Where the pilot light is, you should be able to see a small, tubular metal rod sticking straight up (just a matter of inches and quite small in diameter). This is what the pilot light blows against and senses when it needs to come on/go off. This usually gets a build-up of dust, debris, or other material film making it either trip on and off, fail to initiate at all, turn on for a few minutes but then stop after a few seconds, etc. If you simply wipe off this metal rod, it should work… at the very least, a simple troubleshooting technique.
It sounds simple, but is your furnace turned on? There should be a small switch on the front of the unit after you take off the cover. If its on, turn it off and wait 2- 3 minutes and try to cycle it back through again.
Do you have a fresh air return? This usually doesn’t impact performance but trying to troubleshoot to the best of my memory! It is controlled by something that looks like a light switch in your furnace closet (if you have one). Simply turn it on and off, on and off and on again. Again, this usually shouldn’t have any issue and in the state of Michigan, they are no longer required so it’s a shot in the dark on this one.
Obviously, management should have LONG addressed the issue about the no-heat — it is most likely unlawf and you may be able to get out your lease but you have to document, document, document. The cold air through the sockets and general lack of insulation sucks, but I’m fairly certain you’ll just have to suck this one up.
How have you gone nearly a week without heat??? Yikes! Review your lease and be as calm as possible, citing facts only in your case. Should you go against a judge (several reasons this could be the case) or even refer to that as one of your options or to the rental management’s management, you’ll need your ducks in a row. Do you rent from an individual or is it a complex type situation? I’ve worked in this arena for years so I’d be more than happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability.