Service disconnect

Shouldn’t there be a service disconnect at or near a furnace? Inspection over the weekend only had one on the other side of another room. I want to add a note to my report that for safety issues, a service disconnect be installed at or near the unit. Am I going overboard?


did you check the ceiling above the unit for a “firematic” switch. they look like the old style round light switches form the knob and tube days, but they actualy melt inturnaly and pop out the center to disconnect the power incase of a fire. i’ve seen them on every furnace around here. plus there’s some times a rugular looking light switch on the furnace above the burner that’s called a “service shut off”, for when someone is working on it. the one in the other room is correct, and should have a red cover indicating that it not for a light, but for the furnace. i call 'em out if they don’t.

Thanks Jay. The unit had none of those switches. I called it out in my report. I told client at the time it’s a good idea. Unit needed some other work so I wanted to mention it before the tech did.

I’ve never seen a furnace with a disconnect “at or near” it.

I’m sure he’s referring to a shut-off switch.

Yes I was.

Firomatic thermal switch

Here’s the typical set up i see. it’s commercial, but the same pricipal applies residentaly. pic 1 is in the common hallway ouside the utility room. pic 2 is the “firematic” over the furnace (this style you can actualy pull the center lug out by hand and reinstall it with no issues with it’s normal use.) pic 3 is the service shut offs for each burner.


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Never seen anything like that. Here our furnaces are turned on and off at the thermostat and at the main panel or subpanel, or, as shown in the picture, one can simply unplug them. In the newer furnaces, there is a kill switch in the air filter compartment.

fau 2.jpg

fau 2.jpg

I’m with Jay. Same shut-offs in my area.

Must be a East Coast / West Coast thing. I’ve never seen a furnace with a plug before.

Ours in Tucson are like this. Although this one is missing the 15a fuse.

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Same here. Every last one of them are hard wired in Massachusetts.

If I ever do run into a furnace that is plugged into a wall, I’ll call it out.


So, it must not have been working.

…and Michigan too.

I’m guessing that it’s a climate thing. we use our heat and furnaces the way people in so. cal and az. use there air conditioners. we have a/c too, but it’s usualy plugged into a 120vac outlet and set in a window. majority of homes up here don’t have central A/C unless the owner put it in later. most condos have central a/c, but small houses usualy don’t. lets have a swap, 10 east cost inspectors could swap with 10 west cost inspectors and see it all first hand. i’ll volenter to go to so. cal., i haven’t been there since boot camp in San Diago.

Come on down!

I volunteer for somewhere in the Northeast for Fall…and somewhere in Canada for Ice off…and Florida for winter…SanDiego in July for World OTL tourney…

‘Electrical Inspections of Existing Dwellings’ published by ITA has a section covering central heating equipment. Cord and plug connections may have been allowed by the AHJ in our area in the past but electric furnace installations now require a circuit breaker sub-panel or disconnect panel inside the HVAC closet or within sight of the furnace. The provision to have a circuit breaker or disconnect panel within sight so that a person performing repairs can see that the power is off also applies to electric water heaters and Central A/C compressor units.