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I recently acquired a used 15 year old or so L&L E23t (2.5 inch brick) kiln with a Dynatrol.  I have done three bisque fires (cone 06) and three slow glaze fires (cone 6). The bisque fires have gone well but the glaze firings took 9 hours (with just test tiles since I mixed my own glaze), 10.5 hours (with 8 pieces inside) and 13 hours with an error message and stopped program with a full kiln. The max temp reached in the last firing was 2150 or so. I did a paper test and all the elements are working. The person I bought the kiln from said that the elements were two years old. I am brand new to the pottery world so I did not think to ask how many times it had been fired. Should I change elements, relays, and thermocouples to get a fresh start or is there another reason that I am having trouble hitting the top temp? Any insight would be great. 

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Here is a list of error codes for L&L kilns; https://hotkilns.com/error-codes

The code you got was due to the kiln not ramping up in temp fast enough to maintain the program set; are you entering your own program, or using the "quick fire" options (i.e. slow/fast--->cone ?). If you are entering your own program you may have entered an incorrect ramp schedule; not sure if the controller would pick this up as a fault prior to the "slow down" point in your firing or not.

A paper test does not do much to determine an element's functionality. Unless the element has cracked/broken, even a worn/aged element will still provide enough resistance to reach paper ignition temps (451*F), and even show "red color" in the element wire.  A good multi-meter is the way to test an elements resistance in OHMS; https://hotkilns.com/checking-elements. 

That tutorial will walk you through the process to check your element wires. If you're uncomfortable with electrical work, might be best to hire an electrician, or better yet, a local kiln repair technician. 

Are you sure your kiln is wired properly? If your kiln needs 220V and you have it run on 110V, it will be very sluggish to reach temps, however, I doubt that it would have reached 2150* on only one leg of 110V. Speaking of, 2150 is darn close to your desired temp for cone 6, so not far off. Im not a cone 6 potter, so the last time I fired a cone 6 firing I cant remember how long it took; 13 hours seems long, but not ridiculously excessive. My bisques, packed super tight, to cone 06 take me about 8 hours in a big oval kiln. (cone 06 1850* vs cone 6 2160*).

Its also possible that one of your relays has failed; your kiln has numerous "rings", and in each ring there will be 1 or 2 separate element wires. Each element wire is controlled by a relay; sometimes the relays control more than one element wire. If all of your elements are igniting paper then your relays are working properly; you can also with an empty kiln, close the lid, and set the kiln for a fast glaze fire. Come back in 20 minutes, crack the lid, and see if all the elements have a red/orange color. You may need to wait longer than 20 minutes, but keep checking until you see red color in the element wires. If other elements are red, but one is not, you either have a broken element, or a bad relay. Relays, while they do age, generally either work or dont, whereas elements, as they age, produce less and less heat. A relay is essentially a "switch"; each time you hear the "pop/snap" and then the flow or electric current, the relay is closing the switch and providing current to your elements. No "pop/snap", means no current, means no heat.

More than likely, your thermocouple is not the issue, but it could be.

We've got kilns that are 20+ years old, with hundreds of bisque fires on them, and still have the original elements. Not knowing the history of your kiln, your elements could be worn out. The higher/longer the firing temps, the quicker they fail. Opening your kiln too early can shorten the life, as can dirty element channels. Also, if the elements werent properly "seasoned" on  their initial firing, their life span can be reduced greatly.

Again, lots of technical electrical stuff to consider; if you are learning, it may be the best to hire a local kiln tech and have them walk you through their diagnosis and have them teach you what to look for. Not only will this bolster your confidence in repairing a kiln (if it is lacking), but you will be learning from someone, on site, in person, and not trying to guess your way through it on your own.

Edited by hitchmss

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Hitchmss, Thanks so much for your reply. I used the quick-fire slow glaze cone 6 program so no worries on that account. The literature says it should fire in 7.53 hours but that may be lengthened by a full kiln, but certainly not to 13 hours with an error message thrown in. I have a multi-meter on the way from Amazon and will check the elements’ resistance when it comes. The kiln was wired by a master electrician who did it to code with 6 gauge wire into a 60 amp breaker, so that is not the issue. The idea of a local kiln repair technician is a good idea, but obviously will cost a bit. You get what you pay for though, and in the same vein as hiring an electrician to wire the kiln, this may be the way to go. I will definitely call the tecnician if the coil test you suggest and the multi-meter testing don’t turn up an easy to fix  problem, and may call one in either case since I am new to this. I am excited to have a home studio. I am enjoyong reading Hesselberth’s book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes. 

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You can see how many firings the kiln has done total, which may or may not be how many firings are on your set of elements. With the Dyantrol in any of the Cone Fire modes, press the review button and it will automatically scroll through all the settings for the firing. The last two are 'Fire' and a number. That number is the total number of firings the kiln has done. Again, it may or may not correlate with the number of firings on the elements unless the elements are the original set. Next time you change the elements, write down the number of firings so you can see how many get out of the next set. I just put it into the calendar on my computer on the day I make the change, so I can find it with a simple search. It's also good to see how many firings you're doing a year that way.

If all your elements are getting hot, the problem is most likely worn elements or a thermocouple. It could be a relay, because sometimes they will stick when they get hot, but that's less likely. The manual will tell you what the element resistance should be, or if you don't have a manual you can find one on the L&L web site. it's probably not a  voltage issue since the firing times were changing. Get a cheap digital meter from the hardware store and check the resistance. It's not difficult to do, and there are instructions HERE. Also take a look at the thermocouples. If they're crispy looking, replace them.

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Neilestrick, thank you so much for this informatuion. I had no idea about the ability to see the total number of firings. I know the elements were replaced two years ago so I don’t think it will be able to give me the number I need, but it will still be interesting to see the total number of firings. I plan on tracking future firings in the way that you indicate. I have a multi-meter on the way from Amazon, so that will give me lots of good info when it arrives. I have the original manual so that is also a help. I will find a good kiln tech if I can’t easily detect and correct the problem myself. I wish you were closer to me. I am in Maryland, and it looks like you are in Illinois.

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23 minutes ago, Skip said:

Neilestrick, thank you so much for this informatuion. I had no idea about the ability to see the total number of firings. I know the elements were replaced two years ago so I don’t think it will be able to give me the number I need, but it will still be interesting to see the total number of firings. I plan on tracking future firings in the way that you indicate. I have a multi-meter on the way from Amazon, so that will give me lots of good info when it arrives. I have the original manual so that is also a help. I will find a good kiln tech if I can’t easily detect and correct the problem myself. I wish you were closer to me. I am in Maryland, and it looks like you are in Illinois.

You can do it! If the element coils are starting to lay over on each other, they're probably due for changing.

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5 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

You can do it! If the element coils are starting to lay over on each other, they're probably due for changing.

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I’ll see what I can do.

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On 12/26/2018 at 7:33 PM, Skip said:

Could this be the issue? I have nothing to go by, so I would love for others to way in, but these could be the problem I am having. 

Thermocouples looking crispy.PNG

Eeeek! Yikes, that is more than likely part of the issue. Get some butter and jam, those babies are TOAST!

 

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On 12/26/2018 at 6:33 PM, Skip said:

Could this be the issue? I have nothing to go by, so I would love for others to way in, but these could be the problem I am having. 

Thermocouples looking crispy.PNG

We did a quick video on  this if you are interested, these are toast!

 

Edited by Bill Kielb

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