Want to Learn More About Pottery to Grow Your Skills & Knowledge?

Enter your email below to get our FREE beginner friendly tips.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Potters Passion. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Kiln Maintenance – Top Tips on Taking Care of Your Kiln

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

by David Miller  • Updated: September 26th, 2022  •  9 min read    Pottery Guides » Pottery Kilns

You’ve most likely invested a significant amount of money on purchasing a kiln, and the worst time to learn that something is wrong is when you’re trying to fire your pieces. Regular preventative kiln maintenance is a far superior strategy.

Investing the time to maintain your kiln in good working order will almost definitely save you both time and money over the long term. By following a few simple principles, you may extend the life of your kiln and its components by several years.

Carry Out a Thorough Inspection of the Lid

During each fire, the kiln lid expands and contracts in reaction to the heat. Because of this, tightening the lid band on occasion will be required. Tighten the band with care, using the proper tool, and taking care not to strip any threads along the way.

The majority of kiln lids are built with a protective coating on the inside of the kiln lid. This coating was applied to improve the heat insulation of the lid and to stop brick dust from dropping into the kiln during the firing process. Of course, this is something that you cannot avoid.

Cracks in the lid may form due to all of the expansion and contraction that has occurred over the years. The majority of cracks are purely cosmetic and will not affect your firings. However, a minor fissure can sometimes develop into a serious problem that you must address with kiln cement.

Our Top Pick
Amaco Kiln Cement

For repairing kiln walls, floors, doors, and other fire bricks. Mix with water to make a smooth plastic. For large holes, mix with coarse grog or refractory fragments.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Check the Inside of the Kiln

Your kiln should only include your components, pins, brick, kiln furniture/posts, and kiln cleaned shelves when you’re not using it for a project like this. It’s best to remove everything from the kiln’s sidewalls before firing (glaze and slip and clay, glass, silica sand).

We’re doing it for the exact reason we vacuum the lid. A kiln’s sidewalls and heating components could be damaged if this material is left in there. You can use a little screwdriver or knife to remove the substance from the surface. Also, some of the sidewall brick may come loose and fall to the ground. Most of the time, cracks are only aesthetic and won’t affect your firings.

It is possible to fix a tiny crack with kiln cement when it becomes an issue. However, if cement is put on them, you can damage the heating elements, so be careful when working around them.

Perform an Internal Element Inspection

It’s important to keep an eye out for rust, bulges and thinning or thickening areas on your elements. You’ll inevitably have to replace your kiln’s elements at some point. The more firings you undertake and the climate where your kiln is located greatly impact element wear.

When you fire for a long period of time, the elements will begin to show wear. The element will be more durable the thicker the gauge of wire used in the coil. Please keep in mind that each manufacturer has made a meticulous effort to size the element coils to ensure that they can handle the amount of amperage required to complete the job successfully.

Ensure you consult with the manufacturer if you think it is necessary to replace your elements. They will be able to establish the proper element size for your kiln.

Our Top Pick
Kiln Replacement Elements

Replacement Skutt kiln elements include connectors, pins, and instructions. Ensure your check the specs to determine the correct element and number needed for your kiln.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Conduct an Electrical Inspection

Check the power cord, receptacle, and plug for signs of discoloration or heat regularly. Check that all of the connections in the socket and plug are secure. Examine the plug regularly for corrosion or black patches. If corrosion or discoloration develops, you should replace the plug and receptacle.

Check the plug and socket regularly to ensure they are not too hot. Identify any loose connections or corrosion that may be present if the unit feels hot. Do not fire until the problem has been resolved. It may be essential to replace the cord set or the socket.

Kiln Maintenance Checklists

If you use your kiln regularly, some inspections should be completed before every firing, while others may only be required monthly or even yearly, depending on how often you use your kiln.

Kiln Maintenance Before Each Firing 

Our Top Pick
Kemper Element Pins

Use these pins to secure loose kiln elements. The element pins have sharp ends for easy insertion. These pins can withstand temperatures up to 2500°F (cone 13).

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Monthly Kiln Maintenance

Our Top Pick
Fein Turbo Vacuum Cleaner with Dust Extractor

Compact dust extractor vacuum cleaner with powerful suction for professional use. Perfect for cleaning up and extracting dust from your kiln.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Annual Kiln Maintenance

Conclusion

Proper kiln maintenance and care is a simple task that, if completed with care and attention, can save you valuable downtime and thousands of dollars in maintenance costs. I hope you find these tip useful! stick around and check out our great guides on pottery and ceramics.

Featured image courtesy of the The Kiln Guy

David Miller is an amateur potter that started as a hobby nearly 7 years ago. His mission is to share tips, tools and ideas he has learnt along the way. When he's not in the office, he can typically be found in his studio, a.k.a. his shed, creating, experimenting, and generally making a mess.
Want to Learn More About Pottery to Grow Your Skills & Knowledge?

Enter your email below to get our FREE beginner friendly tips.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Potters Passion. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Keep Reading