From the bomb cyclone that many experienced last week to colder than average temps across Texas, this unusual winter weather sweeping across North America is causing havoc for everyone! So, with snow swirling outside and the wind howling, this question frequently comes to mind... can you fire a kiln in an unheated basement, shed or garage?
A few years ago, Arnold Howard from Paragon told us about a customer who tried to fire a digital kiln in a garage where the temperature was 30°F. The digital controller display locked at 32 degrees, and she could not clear it. After the weather warmed up, the kiln started working again.
Most digital controllers can register temperatures of –300°F; however, the circuit boards are designed to operate in temperatures no colder than 32°F. Temperatures lower than that can cause the controllers to malfunction. For example, the TCR message ordinarily means the thermocouple leads are reversed, but it can also appear when the thermocouple inside the kiln is much colder than the controller circuit board.
Moisture that the firebricks have absorbed from humidity will burn off harmlessly so long as the kiln is vented. Keep the lid in the vented position until steam no longer fogs a mirror, or run a motorized downdraft vent.