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Protecting a New Element


Protecting a New Element

Reader Response: Shipping, Kiln Installation

As with any skill, changing heating elements is easy with practice.

Many years ago, I test-fired the new Paragon SnF-82, an 8-sided, top-loading ceramic kiln. It featured our first "tuned elements." I fired the kiln, studied witness cones, and after each firing replaced all the elements. (We changed the resistance of the elements after each test firing.) With a little practice, I could replace the elements in about 45 minutes, and without damaging the firebricks.

It is important to protect your new element from contamination before you install it. Keep the new element away from glazes, bits of glass, glass separator, and kiln wash.

Contamination of the element with foreign materials sometimes leaves a discolored spot in the groove. If the old element burned out, use a dental mirror to check the groove for discoloration. It will appear where the element failed. Always dig out discolored spots with a screwdriver or similar tool. If you can't get a screwdriver into the groove, use a curved dental tool. Before installing the new elements, vacuum the grooves.

The new elements could touch the floor of the kiln during installation. To protect the elements from contamination with kiln wash, lay sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the kiln.


Last week’s Kiln Pointer was “Receiving a Kiln from a Trucking Line.” Jeanne Rhea of Raleigh, North Carolina wrote, “When my kiln came, I had no idea that the trucking company would not bring it to the door or at least to where it would be covered from the pouring rain. I finally told the driver that if he was only going to leave it at the curb, then he could take it back, and that was that.

“I had $25 to give him as a tip for wheeling it to my deck, but after he asked for $50, I gave him $10 and counted my lucky stars that I would never have to use that company again.”


Before you assume that your elements are worn out, consider the electrical installation. You may have low voltage. Example: A customer’s new kiln could not reach temperature. She wrote, “At first I had the kiln in a back room about 75 feet away from the main power. When we moved it to within a few feet of the main box, it fired to the correct temperature. I have happily been firing dolls ever since.”


This week the snowstorm has been in the news. It reminds me of my elementary school days in Alaska. During the winters, we boys wore leather hunting boots. Long icicles hung from the windows of my fifth grade Quonset hut classroom. Daylight lasted only a few hours, so I went to and from school in the darkness. Those are treasured memories, but I am glad to be here in warm Mesquite, Texas.

Thank 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 /

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