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What Is Your Kiln Trying To Tell You

I suppose you have noticed different and strange noises coming from your pottery kiln.
Strange error messages coming from your digital kiln and you are wondering what the heck causes it, huh?

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This could cause someone that is just starting out in pottery and ceramics to worry that there might be something wrong with their kiln.

The digital temperature controller on today’s electric kilns is very reliable. But, sometimes something in the environment causes a controller to display unusual error codes or erratic temperature readings. Here is a list of the more common causes of these errors. This list applies to most all brands of digital controllers.


If your controller begins to show error codes or erratic temperature readings after you move the kiln to a different location, the source of the problem is probably outside the kiln:

A loose electrical wire at the breaker box or the wall outlet

A loose grounding wire in the electric circuit

A phone line that is grounded to the electrical system

Nearby arc welders


A loose or corroded wire connection inside the kiln:

Connections on the transformer

Connections on the fuse holder

Connections on the relays

Connections on the controller

Loose element connectors

Thermocouple Problems

Thermocouple lead wires that are too close to an electrical wire inside the kiln's switch box, causing electromagnetic interference

A thermocouple that is shorted to the pottery kiln case. This will cause a thermocouple failure message or make the temperature reading less accurate.

A loose thermocouple connection, either at the lead wires or ceramic connection block.

A cracked lead wire under the screw in the thermocouple connection block.

A damaged thermocouple tip, reach inside the firing chamber and wiggle the thermocouple tip. If the display makes a sizable jump in temperature or the temperature becomes erratic, replace the thermocouple.

Thermocouple lead wires with missing insulation that touches a grounded object.

Relay problems

A chattering or buzzing relay, a normal relay makes a clicking noise. A buzzing or chattering noise, however, is a sign that a relay is about to fail. Such a relay can cause electromagnetic interference.

A relay with a short, will drain the power from the controller

Mercury relays that do not have electrical noise reducers

Other Noises

You will noticed that when heating up most kiln's slowly, you will get the usual clicking noise of the relay cycling on and off, but there is also a soft buzzing noise in between which is normal, it is just the elements heating up.

Magnetism is formed when electricity passes through a coil of wire such as a heating element. Depending on where you live, AC electricity changes direction fifty to sixty times per second. When it flows in one direction the coils attract each other. When it changes direction they repel each other. That causes the humming noise. You will notice that the humming lessens as the kiln gets hotter. This is because the element coils become soft and no longer vibrate. The sound of elements humming is reassuring to me. It means that all is well and the kiln is firing normally.

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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