General Kiln and Oven Maintenance
With proper maintenance, you can add many extra years of life to your kiln and elements by following a few guidelines.
Before any maintenance, please remove power from the kiln
Before Each Firing
Check inside your kiln, look for anything out of the ordinary.
Vacuuming your kiln before each firing will help insure that dust will not fall on the ware or cause premature element ware. (Kiln Sitter and switches must be off)
Remove any glaze or glass spots from the shelves, posts, kiln bottom or side walls. If not, glaze and glass will re-melt and spread getting in the element grooves to cause shorter element life.
Make sure there are no loose fragments on the lid that may drop on your ware.
Check your shelves for cracks before firing. This may save a possible overfire, disappointment and a lot of hard work. Sand any rough spots on the bottom or shelves and recoat with kiln wash.
Check the tightness of the lid band and tighten if necessary.
It is not necessary to kiln wash after each firing but a sufficient coating should be maintained.
Inspect your tube assembly or thermocouple for any signs of damage and replace immediately if so.
During firing your lid will expand and contract so it\'s necessary to tighten the lid band clamps occasionally, using care not to over-tighten and strip threads.
Should chips or cracks appear they should be repaired to prevent "sifting" or becoming larger. Small chips may be cemented back into place using Evenheat Repair Cement. Sometimes a portion of the brick needs to be gouged out and a new brick, cut to the proper shape, cemented in place. Sanding smooth to create a flat surface once again.
The lid is manufactured with a protective coating on its "hot side". This coating serves to prevent "sifting" of brick dust onto the ware. Because of this coating it is not necessary to kiln wash the "hot side" of the lid. Having said that, it\'s also not necessary to kiln wash the outer surface of the lid.
Remove any foreign objects (glaze, slip, clay, glass, silica sand) from the sidewalls before any firing. Failing to do so may cause this material to further damage the sidewalls and possibly the heating elements. Remove the material with a small screwdriver or knife. Be careful, the brick is fragile.
It\'s possible that small pieces of brick will break free from the sidewall. While this is normal and does not effect the operation of the kiln, these pieces may be cemented back into place using Evenheat Repair Cement. Use care not to get cement on the heating elements as this will destroy the element.
Also please note that while it seems logical that the sidewalls "should" have a layer of kiln wash applied to them we firmly suggest you refrain from doing so. The concern is that the kiln wash will find its way onto your heating elements during the application. If this happens the element will likely fail.
There really isn\'t much maintenance that can be performed on an element other than a visual check. Take a look at your elements every now and then and check to see that there is no foreign material in the element groove. Remove anything you find.
A note to those of you using silica sand. If you allow silica sand to enter the element grooves it will cover the element and cause it to overheat (yes, overheat). This will cause element failure. So please, check your element grooves for silica sand.
Please refer to your operators manual for the discussion and photo\'s of "Element Replacement".
Power Receptacle Maintenance
Periodically inspect the power cable receptacle and plug for any signs of discoloration or heat. If either is noticed replace both the plug and receptacle. What generally happens is the contacts in the receptacle become weak as a result of constant unplugging or strain and cause heat (loose connections cause heat). This heat discolors the power cable and even travels down the copper wire (copper is a great conductor of heat) toward the fuses/breakers and kiln control panel. This heat causes the fuses /breakers to "blow" or trip at lower amperage levels making you think the trouble is in the fuses and breakers!!
The power cable should easily plug into the receptacle without any strain. If your power cable "just makes it" to the receptacle or is positioned in an "odd" way (upside down for instance) then your asking for trouble. Reposition the receptacle or move the kiln or get a longer power cable to make sure there is no straining. As noted above, straining of the receptacle causes a loose connection, which causes heat, which causes failure.
So check your plug/receptacle periodically.
Area Surrounding the Kiln
The area around the kiln should always be free of combustible or flammable materials, ALWAYS! A kiln is a powerful piece of equipment that gets hot while doing its job. Anything that can burn or explode, with heat, should be kept well away from the kiln. This includes, but is not limited to, paper, cardboard, fuels, toilet paper, packing materials, plastics, clothing, etc.