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I hesitate to remove the switch box from my kiln to change elements. Do you have any pointers that would make it easier?

Occasionally it is necessary to remove the switch box of a kiln to replace elements, thermocouples, a switch, etc. An important last step, often overlooked, is to arrange the wires inside the switch box before fastening it to the kiln.

After you have finished the kiln repair, arrange the switch box wires so that when the switch box is placed against the kiln, no wire touches an element connector or the kiln case. These get hot enough to eventually burn off wire insulation, which could cause a short circuit. If you ever turn on the kiln and you hear a loud bang, it is due to a short. I’ve seen ½” holes blown in switch boxes caused by a short circuit.

If your kiln includes wire nuts inside the switch box, tuck them out of the way. They must not contact the kiln case or element connectors. If you have a Kiln Sitter, keep wires away from the plunger mechanism and contact block. Wires in the way can interfere with normal Kiln Sitter operation.

On digital kilns, you will find a thermocouple (temperature sensor) inside the firing chamber. On the outside of the kiln wall, you will find wires that connect the thermocouple to the digital controller. Try to keep the thermocouple wires away from other wires. The electrical field around heavy-amperage wires can interfere with the thermocouple readings, especially when the thermocouple wires are wrapped around other wires or are pressed right next to them and kept parallel.

Check that the element ends of a new element are cut off flush with the element connectors. If the element end sticks into the switch box, it can short out against other components.

If you are replacing a switch with one of a different brand, observe any difference in size between the switches. If the new switch is deeper than the old, it may short out against an element. If the new switch is deeper, use “stand-offs” (available from hardware stores) to add space between the switch box and the kiln. (A stand-off is a ¼” long barrel that fits over the switch box screws. It is inserted between the kiln case and switch box.)

It takes only a moment to arrange the wires inside a switch box. Please do this every time you remove the switch box of a kiln.

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