Before EVERY firing...
Clean. Make sure the area is really clean - remove all flammable or combustible materials such as curtains, plastics, rags, paper, packing materials, etc. from the area surrounding the kiln.
Inspect. Make sure all the coils/elements are in their designated place and tuck everything in where it belongs. Make sure the elements and their respective channels have no glass, glazes, or metal fragments, crustings, etc. Push all loose element pins back into place. Inspect your thermocouple for any signs of damage and replace immediately if needed. Tighten screws in the lid band, if necessary.
Power Up! Turn the power switch back on and make sure your kiln registers an appropriate room temperature for the inside of the kiln.
Regular MONTHLY maintenance check up…
Do a Body Check Up! The only things inside of your kiln should be your elements, pins, brick, kiln furniture/posts and kiln washed shelves. Turn off the power to the kiln and remove anything else (glaze, slip, clay, glass, silica sand) from the sidewalls before firing. We are doing this for the same reasons we vacuum the lid. Leaving this material in the kiln will damage the sidewalls and possibly the heating elements. Remove the material with a small screwdriver or knife. Be careful not to gauge the brick. It's possible that small pieces of brick will break free from the sidewall. Most cracks are cosmetic in nature and will have no impact on your firings. On occasion, a small crack can become a problem that can be repaired with kiln cement. Be as neat as possible and be mindful not to get cement on the heating elements, as this could destroy the element. If a sidewall crack is creating a structural problem, then it’s time to call in the kiln repair person, or call the manufacturer. Structural problems will be handled in short order by most manufacturers during the warranty period. If you are in the warranty period, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REPAIR THIS without calling the manufacturer, as this could void your warranty.
***Don't take any of these check up steps for granted!*** The long life and resale value of your kiln depend on these steps! Now that I've reminded you....my work here is done! Go fuse, fire, slump, rake, drape, and drip to your hearts content!
Your Kiln Gal,
Gail... Special thanks to our friends at Paragon and Jen-Ken Kilns for the use of their pix!