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Is an ohmmeter test a reliable way to measure element wear?

You can use either an ohmmeter or an ammeter to test elements. Some technicians accurately gauge element life with an ohmmeter. However, it's tricky, because if your ohmmeter is off just slightly, you may end up replacing an element that still has plenty of life. The difference between a new element and a worn one is only 10% of the reading, which is a couple of ohms or less.

To gauge element life, you might try an ammeter test. You can test all the elements from one ammeter reading. Caution: The power is on during an ammeter test, and you will be exposed to live wires. Please don't perform an ammeter test on a kiln unless you are familiar with electrical work. (An ohmmeter test is safer because the power is turned off.)

Ammeter Test

1) With the power turned off, open the kiln switch box. Place an ammeter clamp around one of the hot wires of the kiln cord set.

2) With the kiln switch box still open and the ammeter clamped around one hot wire, turn the kiln back on. (Do not touch any wires inside the kiln switch box.) Compare the amperage reading with the amps listed on the kiln's electrical data plate. If the amps are low, test the voltage under load (while the kiln is firing).

The amps may be low because of low voltage instead of worn elements. This is a definite possibility especially during the summer when electrical demand is higher than usual.

You can also use the ammeter to test individual banks of elements that are connected to each relay.

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