Kilns require few repairs, but the elements in a kiln need replacing every 10 to 12 years. Heavily used kilns require more frequent element replacement. Heating element coils heat the kiln, so the ceramics are heated to the required temperature for firing and glazing. Replacing the elements in a kiln is easy, but the only hard part is finding the element for you model of kiln. Purchase kiln elements from the manufacturer, ceramics supply stores or art supply companies.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Masking tape
- New element that fits your model
- Needle nose pliers
- Soft paintbrush
Unscrew the screw or screws on the front cover of the controller or kiln sitter. Pull off the front cover, and set it aside. Make sure you put the screw where you won't lose it.
Find the wires running into the controller or kiln sitter from the elements. If the wires have a clamp holding them together, unscrew the clamp, and remove the wires. If the wires have a crimp over them, pull the crimp loose with a pair of needle nose pliers, and remove the wires, or the brick might chip. Label the wires with masking tape and a label. The kiln has three wires. Label the part of the wire coming into the hole, and the part of the wire coming from the controller or kiln sitter with the same number. It makes installing the new element easier.
Remove the pins that hold the element in place with the needle nose pliers. Remove them carefully, or the edges of the groove in the wall might chip.
Pull the heating element coils out of the groove gently. Wiggle the wires some as you pull the element out, and pull them out of the controller or kiln sitter. Remove the old elements one at a time. Make sure you don't chip the edges of the groove holding the elements as you pull them out.
Brush out the grooves with a soft paintbrush, and then vacuum the grooves. You need to remove all of the debris and dust. Sometimes little flakes of kiln brick flake off in the grooves as you remove the elements.
Slip the wire ends of the new elements through the hole going to the controller. Once the wires are in the hole, slide the elements into the groove. It only fits one way, so it's easy.
Move the elements around until they fit snugly in place. Push new pins over the element, so they hold the element in place.
Follow the instructions that come with the elements for attaching the wires to the controller or kiln sitter. Attach the wire with the clamps or crimps. If you use crimps, slide both wire pieces into the crimp from different ends, and squeeze with the needle nose pliers. Pay attention to the numbers on the wires of the old element, and make sure you hook the new element in correctly. You want it attached the same way it was when the original element was in place.
Check the coils for any dust or debris, and brush it off with the soft paint brush. Vacuum the coils and floor of the kiln.
Tips and warnings
- Replace all of the elements at the same time even if only one goes out. New elements heat faster. Using old and new elements together causes uneven heating in the kiln, and causes problems during glaze firings or porcelain firings.
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