July 30, 2008

Overdue Kiln Care

It couldn't be put off any longer. I am not good about keeping a regular maintenance program for my kilns. I do vacuum regularly but as far as the guts of the thing and the recommended yearly dismantling and inspecting the venting system  — not so much. This kiln is over ten years old and I can only recall doing it once! Since firing at higher temperatures the last couple of years, I have been using my smaller kiln since it takes less work to fill and I can get results faster, still feeling very much on the learning curve in the cone five/six range. I don't want to put all my eggs (ware) in one basket (kiln) as they say. Now, production, size of ware and time, are all making it impossible to ignore the time had come to start using "the big one". My last firing in this kiln had me worried. The fan was so loud the cats  wouldn't come in my studio! I did the match thing (holding the match by the vent hole to see if the flame sucked in) and it appeared to be working. But the noise!  Well, you can see here what we found. Corrosion and leaky ducting! I had already vacuumed when I took the pictures but it was pretty dirty and the caulked sealing fell off when we lifted the motor up off the plate. Very bad I know. Am I really that bad or are there others like me out there? A lesson learned here and maybe this post will inspire others to do the deed — take care of our kilns and venting systems. Today we will finish with new ducting and caulking, a good cleaning, then repeat with the smaller, newer kiln, also overdue. These kilns have served me well and have fired beautifully I owe them some TLC. In case your wondering, both my kilns are Skutts, with the the older envirovent system.