Friday, September 26, 2014

A kiln reborn

So, the last time you heard from me was about seven months ago.  You’ve got to be asking yourself “David, what have you been doing this whole time”. Well I’ve been having some electrical issues, not only with the kiln but the house as well.  It’s always best to start at the beginning…
When I first hooked up the kiln I thought I would fire it up and see how that puppy purrs.  As soon as it started purring the plug, breaker, and all the wires connecting the kiln to the breaker box and the box to the main breaker started to get hot.  Not just warm but what seemed to me to be dangerously hot.  So I shut it down, and did a little figuring and realized that I bought a 208 volt kiln and I needed a 240 volt kiln.  So I replaced the elements and the company said that was all I needed to do to get back on track.  Once again I fired her up to see what we could do and it happened again.  My next course of action I felt was to replace the wires going to the shop from the main breaker.  I bought a larger gauge wire and ran it through the attic and felt pretty good that that would fix my problem.  But while I was messing with the main breaker I realized that the 100 amp box in the shop was run by a 50 amp breaker in the main box, so that wouldn’t work.  I looked around and was able to pick up some breakers and replace them.  I thought this would work, and it didn’t.  I gave up for a while because I just didn’t know what to do, and I was getting really frustrated.  Then we had one of our old breakers melt, luckily I was here to shut it down before it did any real damage.  We then decided to replace the main breaker and the panel in the shop, hoping that we would solve the kiln problem in the process.  After a couple of weeks and a few wasted vacation days we had our new breakers.  I was sure this would fix my kiln problems, but when I fired up the kiln the breaker still got warm.  I was crushed; I didn’t know what to do.  I started emailing tech support with loads of questions, and perused all the forums that I could find slightly related to kiln electricity and wiring.  After this research I decided to upgrade the wire to the kiln to the next size bigger and up the breaker too.  I also had my dad look at it while it was firing to see if he could see what was wrong.  What he decided was that I was over reacting and I should just let the kiln complete a firing and see what it does.  It was fine; the breaker did get warm but not hot.  My research also revealed that the breakers will get warm with a resistive load, which is what the kiln is.  Now I’ve fired one bisque firing and one crystalline test and nothing bad has happened.  So I’m going to assume that my problems have been solved and not worry about it anymore.  While I’m typing this I’m firing my second bisque load, and next weekend will be another crystalline test firing, this time with color.  It’s only be seven months but the kiln is finally up and running.  We should start seeing finished work in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

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