ELECTRICAL POWER SWITCH FOR HEAT - CONTENTS: guide to finding and using electrical power switches for heating and cooling systems.
This article describes the usual location and function of electrical switches that control power to all types of heating equipment. Electrical switches that turn off electric power that operates any type of heating system: furnace, boiler, steam boiler, heat pump, electric heat, are required for both safety and for service. An emergency off switch for the building heating system should be found outside of the basement or other boiler or furnace room location and accessible so that an occupant can, in an emergency, turn off heat without having to enter a possibly smoky or dangerous area. A third electrical switch or fuse turns off power to the heating equipment service at the building electrical panel.
My mom turns the boiler “service” red switch on and off all the time and I am worried that it is a danger. She has oil heat that primes a burner and I’m afraid that she is turning it off when the system is still on and demanding heat (programmed thermostat in other apt. Infrequent (once a day or less often) turning on or off of an oil fired heating appliance (heating boiler or water heater, for example) at the service switch like the one you describe would not cause damage to the equipment though, of course, if someone leaves heat off in freezing weather a freeze-up in the building could lead to very costly damage. Just turning off the oil burner, provided the system has reached full operating temperature, would not be expected to cause a problematic level of fumes or smells in the building.

Why don't you ask your mom why she's been turning the system on and off to see if you can find another way to ease her concerns.
That way the switch can be turned off without opening the door, and the presence of the switch serves as a marker for which door is the one to the basement. Continue reading at BOILER CONTROLS & SWITCHES or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Could be power is off, or the thermostat is set to a temp higher than the current actual room temp, or an actual equipment problems. Gary see NHFireBear's remarks in the article above about emergency power off switches for HVAC equipment. We like to see the emergency switch at the top of the cellar stairs if the equipment is located in the cellar so that in event of a fire no one has to enter that space (which could be unsafe) and so that the fire fighters have a clue about where the equipment is located. Heat and hot water are required to be provided for all tenants (although based on your lease you may be required to pay for gas, fuel, or electricity to run heating equipment). Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Our photo at left shows a fuse box that is used to accomplish the same purpose, though this older switch is more likely to be found near the entry to a basement where heating equipment is located.

So if someone keeps turning the system on and off frequently such that it does not sufficiently often reach full operating temperature, the result could be sooting and ultimately a clogged oil burner nozzle, leading to improper operation, inefficient operation, or even in the most extreme case, loss of heat. That way, not only does it allow you to shut off the burner without opening the door, it also signals the firefighters WHICH DOOR goes to the basement. Indeed it's an interesting point that if we shut off a blower fan on a furnace while the heat exchanger is still quite hot, the result could be a cracked (and thence unsafe) heat exchanger. 3 hours later, the bully shut off the gas water tank downstairs - turning the switch horizontal, then setting it to off and vacation, so the pilot light is out.
So being able to turn OFF heat in an emergency is required for safety (and by model building codes and depending on where you live, local regulations. Entering valid code connects the switch and automatically disconnects it several seconds after. Thermostat (Honeywell) does not ignite the AC or fan or heat - but it could not possibly be the thermostat as the person who shut off the fan switch - also turned off the water heater.

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