Pottery and Ceramics Tools
Troubleshooting Your Kiln Sitter
Here are some of the most common problems you may have with your kiln sitter and their solutions.
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Over or Under Firing
The cause of a consistent over or under fire is from improper adjustment of the kiln sitter trigger and claw assembly. You can find a page on how to adjust your kiln sitter with a firing gauge on How To Use A Kiln Firing Gauge page.
Erratic FiringsThe problem of erratic firings, which can be correct or over fired, can usually be traced to a corroded swivel on the tube assembly. To check for this, remove the guide plate and look at the area of the tube assembly where the rod comes through the tube. If any corrosion can be seen on the outside area around the swivel, replace the tube assembly. After replacing the tube assembly, readjust with a kiln firing gauge.
If you find that this is a problem or suspect that it might be a potential problem, be sure to vent the kiln adequately for it’s size and load. A minimum for the smaller kilns would be to open one peep hole and on the larger kilns, open at least two peepholes, one on top and one on the bottom.
If you find that you need to increase the venting or feel you need to close the kiln, leave all the peepholes open until you reach at least 1,100ºF which is a reddish yellow heat stage before you shut the venting down.
Plunger Button Will Not EngageIf you find that the plunger button will not engage, check to see if the timer knob is in the OFF position. It must have some time shown to operate correctly. If you find the cam or lock assembly will not move to engage the slot in the plunger button, it is probably stuck to the face plate by something foreign like corrosion or some sticky substance.& If this is the case, rotate the knob past the twenty hour mark while at the same time, pushing in on the plunger button. This should force the cam into the slot of the button, then manually release the weight to be sure the cam disengages the button properly. If this doesn’t work, remove the face plate and clean or replace the cam or lock assembly. Be sure there is no corrosion or interruption of the surface.
If you have any question as to the quality or condition of the part, replace it!
NEVER USE ANY TYPE OF LUBRICANTS ON THE KILN SITTER
Plunger Button Melting Or DeformingThe plunger button will deform if there is too much heat produced at the back side of the switch. Usually the unit will shut off at this point. This is to prevent the connections on the back side of the switch from burning off. If you find this has happened, you must check the connection on the back side of the switch for damage to the wires or connectors. If you find any damage that is heat related, be sure to cut back the wires until there is no more corrosion and replace the connectors with the proper size. Ring connectors come in both wire and stud size. On the larger ampere kilns, you may want to sweat solder the lugs on to the wire. This helps reduce any connection problems.
Switch Or Contact ProblemsIf you encounter any burning or sticking of the contacts, you must replace the contacts and determine the cause of the problem. If after inspecting you determine that the damage is actually heat related be sure and check your kiln sitter with a kiln firing gauge.
The switch should be inspected for any heating of the center post spring or blackening of the porcelain block. If you find either one of the above, replace the switch assembly with a new complete assembly.
The screws on the switch should always be checked for tightness. Heating and cooling can loosen the connections.
Cones Sticking or BreakingIf you find that the cones are breaking, stretching or sticking, the cone supports should be replaced. If they are rough, kiln wash should be used lightly. The cone needs to slide on the cone supports for a reliable firing. A small nail polish bottle cleaned and filled with a watery solution of kiln wash works well to coat the supports. Rub kiln wash off the cone supports with your fingers after each firing and re-apply.
Chipped Or Broken Tube AssemblyIf you find that the tube assembly is chipped where the cone supports are held at the end of the tube assembly, replace the tube. If the tube assembly moves or can be rotated, replace the tube assembly.
Sensing Rod Bent or TaperedThe sensing rod will begin to taper and wear with use depending on the type of firings. If you can see any tapering of the rod assembly, replace it. If your tube assembly is older, be sure to check the swivel area for corrosion. If there is any doubt, replace the tube assembly.
Timer MotorIf you suspect that the timer is not operating properly, set the timer for one half hour to check the operation for a short test. There is no need to have the element switches on for this test. If you find that this test functions the motor properly, you may test it along with your next firing. Keeping a record of where it started and how many hours were left after the firing. If after these tests you find the motor is not functioning properly, replace the timer motor.
Remember that on all the kiln sitter models, the rod assembly should move without any obstructions. All adjustments are done with the kiln firing gauge in place.
Remember to remove it before firing!All parts are available from kiln sitter or the kiln manufacturers.
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