Gas burner emergency switch neccesary?

dannyjtFebruary 9, 2007

Hi all- Thought this may go in the heating and cooling forum, but since it's electrical I thought I'd start here....

Our house is now heated with gas fired hot air furnace. Used to be oil burner, but right before we moved in the former owners converted to gas, got rid of the old oil tank, and ripped the oil line out of the floor. The emergency switch at the top of the cellar stairs (which is in our kitchen) still seems live. It had a plain white cover on it as well when we moved in instead of the typical bright red switch. I didn't think gas burners needed this switch, so I was going to kill it and remove it while I'm redoing all the walls. Do I need this switch for a gas burner in the state of MA?? Thanks! -Danny

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Ron Natalie

I don't know what the code requires specifically for furnaces (it's possible that older gas boilers for radiators don't have any electricity running to them), but if you've got any power running to it (circulating fan, blowers for the high efficiency burners), then there needs to be a disconnecting means within sight of the unit.

If you find you are going to do away with the switch, make sure that you follow the procedure for abandoning wire appropriately (or totally remove it).

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 10:14AM
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I would turn off the emergency switch and see what happens. If the furnace goes off, you need it. There are some gas fired steam systems where milivolts are produced by gas passing over a miniature turbine. This is enough electricity to run the thermosthat. So this system will run even when the power is off because there are no other electical parts on the system. If you have hot air or hot water or many steam systems, they use some elect. and need the switch.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 3:23PM
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If the work is already done, why rip it out?

If something really bad were to happen to the furnace, do you really want to have to get close to it to turn it off?

Go to a big box store and pick up a red "Gas Furnace Emergency Switch" cover plate, put it on, and be done with it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 6:23AM
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Thanks all for the info. I need to check tosee what exactly itdoes,as Coolvt suggested, before I go any further. -Regards, Danny

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 1:18PM
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Interesting about the special colours/switch plates, the BC electrical code here in Canada doesn't mention them, nor have I seen them in Home Despot, but the BC code does quite clearly call for a cutoff switch for the furnace, and it must be placed in such a way that it can be accessed near the entry of the room, in other words, you don't have to go past your furnace while it's in flames, to turn it off.

If the circuit breaker board's in the right place, you can use the furnace breaker as the disconnect, but you need something. I don't doubt the NEC is similar.

Don't forget, you'll want a convenient way to disconnect the furnace when you're working on it, or in the summer, say.

Mine's right next to the furnace - if I'm doing work on the thermostat or anything, or changing the filter (I run the fan 100% of the time) I can shut it down right there.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 12:26AM
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