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Kiln Repair - Elements Part 1 (Step by Step): Article or Project

Replacing Kiln Elements

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It’s inevitable. When you use a kiln on a frequent or regular basis, it is bound to break down. Very little can go wrong with the older manual or kilnsitter kilns. The newer computerized kiln operators have more costly issues which will not be addressed here, however even those will eventually need their elements replaced.

How do you know you need to replace an element? Most usually it will begin with the kiln having been underfired This is when the kiln does not reach appropriate cone temperature.

Good maintenance of your kiln can extend the life of the elements, for example, watch for expanded or protruding elements that pop out of their slot in the fire brick. Re-secure them with appropriate element pins to prevent further expansion. This will usually extend their life; however, be aware that that is a warning sign and you best get prepared to replace them. Sometimes you can see an actual break in the element. This is more obvious that the element needs to be replaced.

You can sometimes get away with only replacing just the one that goes bad, but it is not a good idea. The best thing is to replace all of them at the same time.

Elements can be costly and it is getting more and more difficult to find replacement elements. Many kiln manufacturers are no longer in business or have changed their names. So what can you do? My recommendation is to contact Stan Horton of He has been making quality elements for over 34 years. He does specialize in Skutt, Cress, and Amaco Excel kilns. However, if he does not have the element specs for any kiln, he only needs an element to copy, or specs supplied by the customer.

Stan uses an APM wire that is engineered to last significantly longer in applications with high temperatures, and longer hold times. In lower fire applications the increase in element longevity will not be as significant. APM wire will not have the coil movement, such as leaning and sagging, that typical A-1 type wire can have. They do not use the work rings that the larger companies use. Work rings can leave ridges, scoring, and shaving on the elements, which can affect element life.

I have a very old kiln and recently had to replace 4 elements – OUCH! However, my experience with Stan has been very positive. He responds quickly to emails and phone calls and is wonderful to work with. I most assuredly recommend him. Let him know Majk sent you.


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