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When Should I Turn on the Emergency Switch for My Furnace?

You should turn on your emergency heat when your furnace and primary heat pump are unable to keep up with extreme cold temperatures. Activating your emergency heat will keep your home warm as you wait for your HVAC system to be repaired. You’ll want to get your repairs done as quickly as possible so your emergency heat only has to work for a short period of time.

Emergency Heat

When the winters are too cold for your furnace to bear and your heat pump struggles to extract heat from outdoor air, the emergency heat acts as the second line of defense. This emergency function is normally activated when outdoor temperatures fall to 35 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Once you’ve set your thermostat to emergency heat, your system bypasses your heat pump and instead accesses the electric heat strip of heated coils or the gas or oil furnace to warm your home.

Flipping the Emergency Switch

Your emergency heat switch should only be used in emergencies! If your furnace and heat pump are operating correctly, there’s no need to activate the emergency heat.

If your outdoor unit is damaged from a fallen tree branch or if your heat pump freezes over, you’ll want to flip the switch for your emergency heat and contact an HVAC technician to help you with repairs.

Depending on whether you have an electric, oil, or gas heating system, the emergency heat should keep you and your home warm until your heat pump or furnace can be fixed. However, this heat setting is only meant to run temporarily, so you’ll want to call for repairs as soon as possible to avoid drastic energy bills.

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