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Kiln Worries

To help you have peace of mind when you fire your kiln, I’ve listed two types of kiln worries:


1) The light around the edge of the door or lid: The line of light that glows under the lid is normal. As long as the lid or door is closed all the way, there is little heat loss.

2) Discolored paint: This is inevitable and doesn’t affect firing results.

3) Clicking noise: It is the sound of relays or infinite control switches cycling. Once you become familiar with the sound, you may find it reassuring that the kiln is firing normally.

4) Cracks, chips, and breaks in the firing chamber: Ceramic fiber and insulating firebricks undergo tremendous stress during firing. These imperfections are inevitable and do not affect the firing.

5) The digital controller shutoff temperature varies for repeat firings to a particular cone: Controllers are designed to change the shutoff temperature to compensate for firing speed. All is well as long as the witness cone bends correctly.

6) The pilot light flickers: This doesn’t indicate low voltage. It is normal for the small neon lights.

7) The elements hum: This is only the sound of element coils vibrating in their brick grooves.

8) The inner lid surface peels: Kilns have a refractory coating that hardens the brick surface. If the coating is too thick, it will peel. Simply remove the old coating with grit cloth and apply a new one with a paint brush.


1) Bulging element: Repair bulging elements before you fire the kiln again.

2) Popping noise from switch: A popping noise means the switch is about to fail. Keep a spare on hand.

3) Chattering noise from relay: A chattering relay is either about to fail or is not receiving enough power to operate properly. Keep a spare relay on hand.

4) Water dripping from the kiln case: You are most likely firing moist greenware. This increases electrical consumption and also rusts the kiln.

5) You smell burning plastic: Please check the wall outlet. A loose connection may be overheating the wiring.

6) You hear a crackling noise: This is the sound of a loose electrical connection.

7) Your ceramics or glass makes a plinking noise: This is the sound of clay or glass breaking inside the kiln. The clay and glaze probably have a poor fit, and the glass pieces are either incompatible or they were fired or cooled too rapidly.

8) The lid rises in the front: If you have a lid counter-balance spring system, it is probably out of adjustment. This should be repaired before the next firing.


Last week I wrote about the kiln stand. Eddi Reid in Powell, Ohio wrote, “For my little front-loading E-series glass kiln, I found a metal rolling cupboard such as those used for workshop and garage storage. It is sturdy and I can store essentials underneath. It is the perfect height as it is counter high and works just like a stand for a microwave oven, for instance. It is next to an old kitchen cupboard with a tiled top--a handy surface for placing finished items from the kiln.” John Hohenshelt, president of Paragon, wrote, “Another work surface idea for table-top furnaces is a 12” x12” ceramic tile or slate from Home Depot. Probably more available, costs less than a kiln shelf, and just as good.”


We are holding a Basic Kiln Maintenance Seminar June 2 –3, 2006 at the Paragon factory in Mesquite, Texas. This is 20 minutes outside Dallas.

I wish you a happy Mother’s Day this Sunday and I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. - Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 /


Feel free to email this Kiln Pointer to friends. To read back issues Click here or go to, select “Support,” and then “Kiln Pointers” from the drop menu.

To respond to this Kiln Pointer, press Reply. Your email will go directly to Arnold Howard.

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2006, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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