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Is there a simple way to test elements without an ohmmeter?

Carl Bosard of North Augusta, South Carolina sent us the following pointer on testing heating elements:

“I have found a simple method of testing elements that anyone can perform. I use thermal fax paper cut into strips 1" wide and 8 1/2" long for this test. I give these strips to customers as a gift with the instructions. A roll of fax paper is cheap and will last for hundreds of tests. When the fax paper is exposed to heat it will turn dark. The paper can be held by a clothespin or over the end of a pencil.”


1) Turn the kiln on to the high heat setting for not more than one minute. (You will hear the elements hum as they turn on. Digital kilns will make a clicking noise.)

2) UNPLUG the kiln. (Very important.)

3) Open the kiln.

4) Place an end of the fax paper strip on the element for three to five seconds.

5) Check the strip to see if it has turned dark. Dark is good; no change means the element didn’t turn on. (This could be due to a burned out element, switch, relay, or fuse.)

6) Repeat for each element.

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