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Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Elements

Cut off the element pigtail that sticks out past the element connector.


Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Elements

Reader Response: Keeping the fun in creative work

Recent Q&As: How resistance changes as elements age; placing bricks under the kiln

Memorable Quote



Be sure you are installing the correct replacement element. The wrong element meant for a different kiln model could burn out a switch or the wiring because of too much amperage.

Carefully read the label attached to the element. Some kilns have cooler elements in the center and hotter elements in the top and bottom. A label marked T/B is for a top or bottom element; C indicates a center element.

David Snyder, a kiln technician, has seen elements that were replaced in the field without element connectors. Kiln owners attached wires to the elements with wire nuts or electrical tape. This type of installation will burn out after a few firings. Please use the new element connectors that come with new elements.

David has also seen pieces of coat hangers or nails used as element pins. These materials will burn out an element. If the element has burned out where the pin touches it, the pin may have also been made from Nichrome element wire and used in a pottery kiln that has Kanthal A-1 elements. Nichrome pins leave a black-green residue in the firebricks.

After you have installed the element and tightened the element connectors, cut off the excess length of element that extends past the connectors. Some people worry that cutting off the excess element may change the element resistance. That has no effect on the resistance, however. An element pigtail that extends past the connector could short out against other components in the switch box.

Make sure the element coils are spread evenly throughout the length of the element. A section of element coils that bunch up tightly can burn out the element, because the element wire can get too hot in that area.



A recent Kiln Pointer included a quote from Dr. Seuss: “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

Bill Donaldson of Attitude Art Studio wrote, “I see your newsletter as helpful tutorials on how to safely use and prolong the use of our kilns. But, what I really like is the additional tidbits . . . ala the quote from Dr. Seuss! I'm a glass artist (former architect) who has three kilns and fuses glass full time. Most of the time I try to create serious pieces of ‘art.’ But like Dr. Seuss, I gotta produce a piece for fun and whimsy! Thanks for keeping the fun in your Pointers!”



Q. As the heating elements in a kiln age, do they draw more power, or less, than they did when they were new?

A. Worn elements draw less amperage than they do when they are new. This is because the resistance in the element wire increases. The higher the resistance, the lower the amperage and the longer the kiln takes to fire.

Q. The metal base of my 17-year-old Paragon TnF-82 kiln has completely rusted away, and the interior base is a bit cracked. Is it safe to use? Should I put a pile of bricks under the center?

A. I suggest that you slide a new piece of sheet metal between the kiln stand and the kiln, or replace the galvanized steel base. We don't recommend putting bricks under the kiln, because they can affect the heat distribution of the firing chamber. The bricks can act as a heat sync and draw heat from the kiln.



"I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened." --Mark Twain


A few days ago I listened to a podcast of futurist Edie Weiner on time management. She said most people in this fast-paced world think they don’t have enough time. She added that one in nine Baby Boomers are expected to live past 100, and our life expectancy is 80, which is 15 years longer than that of previous generations. So, we have more time than ever.

I hope you take time out to enjoy your kiln this weekend.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

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

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

Copyright 2015, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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