Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Kiln Maintenance

Switch off the kiln before doing any maintenance.

Before or after each use

Vacuum the inside of the kiln. Use a low suction setting, especially on fibre walls and ceilings. Stronger suction is possible when cleaning a brick floor.

Example of vacuuming around elements
Example of vacuuming lid without elements

An alternative to vacuuming the elements is to use the air compressor hose at low power to gently blow out any dust settled in the element grooves.  Do not do this for fibre insulated kilns, only brick.

Check on the kiln furniture – including shelves, boards, supports. Are they kiln washed and without scrapes, scratches, gaps? Has the kiln wash been fired to full fuse temperature? In both cases, clean the used kiln wash off the shelf and renew.

Check that the shelves and other kiln furniture are without cracks.

Clean kiln furniture of dust and debris.

Check the level of any item newly placed in the kiln - e.g., mould, or shelf replacement - with a spirit level.

Two examples of two-way spirit levels

 Check on the conditions and placement of the thermocouple.

Check on the elements.  Some may be sagging or hanging out of their channels.  Use tweezers to bring the coils closer together.  This shortens the length of the element and it then can be pushed back into the channel.  It may not have to be done after each firing, but checking will catch things before sagging becomes a major problem.

When the shelf paper is exhausted lift out the thicker papers and vacuum the shelf.  The Thinfire and Papyrus papers can be vacuumed directly or gently swept up and placed in a container for disposal.  Do not introduce any moisture to help reduce the dust.  This is not good for the kiln or you, as it could induce shorting out of the elements.


Electrical parts: check the elements and their connections (normally at back or side).

First unplug or switch off the power to the kiln.

Check the screws on the connectors for the element tails are tight. Loose connections cause the wire to vibrate at the connection during the power phase. They heat up enough to melt the wire at the connection. For a single element kiln, it will simply lose power.  In multiple element kilns the remaining elements work much harder to achieve the temperature and provide uneven heating.

If the connectors are badly corroded , they need to be replaced.  This can be done without replacing the elements. Unscrew the connectors and put new ones on.  If the connector is fused to the element wire, you need to cut the wire as close to the connector as possible to maintain a length of wire for the new connector to be fixed.

Check the condition of leads and plugs supplying power to the kiln.  Make sure they are sound, not frayed and not kinked. Replace any frayed parts.  Take out any kinks in the power supply cable.

Any support pins or wires should be firmly seated in the brick work or supported by sound hangers.

Check the level of the kiln floor and internal shelves on a regular basis and every time the kiln and its internal furniture is moved.

Making a schedule of maintenance checks and noting on it the dates checked is a good idea for those who need reminders.

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