Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Benzine    610

I wonder what the instances of electrical kiln fires are, compared to electric clothes dryer fires?

 

I was going to bed one evening, and walked past my drier.  The lights were off, but I saw some light on the floor, near the drier.  I knelt down, and realized that it was the electric element, getting very hot.  Something in the controls malfunctioned, and it just wasn't letting the dryer shut off.  So, I ordered some new parts (it ended up being one of the fuses, or maybe it was a thermocouple?...) and began work on the dryer.  I opened it up, and wow, was there a lot of lint everywhere.  There is always the emphasis on cleaning out the dryer vent and lint trap, but there was lint all over the interior, including inches from the exposed element.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neilestrick    1,381

I wonder what the instances of electrical kiln fires are, compared to electric clothes dryer fires?

 

I was going to bed one evening, and walked past my drier.  The lights were off, but I saw some light on the floor, near the drier.  I knelt down, and realized that it was the electric element, getting very hot.  Something in the controls malfunctioned, and it just wasn't letting the dryer shut off.  So, I ordered some new parts (it ended up being one of the fuses, or maybe it was a thermocouple?...) and began work on the dryer.  I opened it up, and wow, was there a lot of lint everywhere.  There is always the emphasis on cleaning out the dryer vent and lint trap, but there was lint all over the interior, including inches from the exposed element.

 

From http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/dryers-and-washing-machines

 

Dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2006-2010.

Facts and figures

  • In 2010, an estimated 16,800 reported U.S. non-confined or confined home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines resulted in 51 civilian deaths, 380 civilian injuries and $236 million in direct property damage.
  • Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 4%.
  • The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (32%), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (22%). Eight percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or malfunction.

4.5% of all home fires involved a washer or dryer or both. Considering that only about 82% of homes have a washer and dryer, those are pretty shocking statistics. But a clothes dryer is, in many ways, a small kiln as far as the electrical system is concerned. They typically run on a 30 amp breaker, and have a heating element in them. But unlike kilns, they are full of combustible material, much of it in the very flammable form of fluffy lint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBaymore    1,432

But a clothes dryer is, in many ways, a small kiln as far as the electrical system is concerned. They typically run on a 30 amp breaker, and have a heating element in them. But unlike kilns, they are full of combustible material, much of it in the very flammable form of fluffy lint.

 

 

Insurance companies don't think twice about a clothes dryer installation. But try to get a KILN installed......... :rolleyes:

 

best,

 

........................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oldlady    1,323

the real problem with clothes dryers is the run of exhaust pipe.  my niece had an apartment with a stacked washer/dryer that had a vent with 2 ninety degree turns in it within 6 feet of the rear of the dryer and a 30 foot run to the exterior wall opening.  it took an hour for her to dry 2 sheets.

 

I stayed at a hostel in Penzance while on vacation and used their laundry in the basement.  the first thing I did was remove the loose four foot vent pipe and look inside.  solid with lint. after emptying it, I informed the manager of the problem and got a shrug in reply.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Benzine    610

Neil, John, that's exactly what I was thinking.

 

How many times has a load of ceramics combusted in a kiln load?

 

Anyone know how hot the element gets in a drier? Also, what about a gas drier? It has the same issue, an ignition source and combustibles all around it.

 

Another big issue with driers, is people use that flex duct work, because it's easy to use. All you have to do is attach both end points, usually just by wiggling it on. This as opposed to using actual metal duct works, that can require cutting, screwing, etc. But they have the benefit of being smooth , attracting very little lint. This is as opposed to having ridges like the flex stuff, which only succeeds in collecting massive amounts of lint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark C.    1,807

I just dry my clothes in the electric kiln

set on low . I first wash them just like all the bisque pots with water

then set a slow ramp

You know when they are dry when the smoke detector goes off.

Mark

 

 

I suggest you take this post with a grain of salt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oldlady    1,323

my smoke detector lets me know that dinner is ready.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CarlCravens    58

my smoke detector lets me know that dinner is ready.

 

You must be related to my wife's family.  (My mother-in-law set off the smoke alarm the first time my wife had me over to her folks for dinner when we were dating.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JLowes    28

I had a melt down inside my Skutt KM-1 wall mount controller.  I was checking the progress of a glaze firing and noted that the kiln power light was off and the controller display was dead, and the room had the electrical fire smell.  A check inside the controller box showed melted insulation at the point where the receptacle wiring connected to the contactor.  Since the controller was still under warranty, I closed back up and took it to my distributor.  That was almost two months ago, and the repair just got escalated to the Skutt factory.  It's not always the kiln, or the receptacle, that has the problem. Fortunately no fire, as the melt down killed the 120 volt to the transformer that powers the control board, and the board shutting down killed the power to the receptacle.

 

I do wonder if I will ever see my controller again, and if I should trust it again.

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neilestrick    1,381

I had a melt down inside my Skutt KM-1 wall mount controller.  I was checking the progress of a glaze firing and noted that the kiln power light was off and the controller display was dead, and the room had the electrical fire smell.  A check inside the controller box showed melted insulation at the point where the receptacle wiring connected to the contactor.  Since the controller was still under warranty, I closed back up and took it to my distributor.  That was almost two months ago, and the repair just got escalated to the Skutt factory.  It's not always the kiln, or the receptacle, that has the problem. Fortunately no fire, as the melt down killed the 120 volt to the transformer that powers the control board, and the board shutting down killed the power to the receptacle.

 

I do wonder if I will ever see my controller again, and if I should trust it again.

 

John

 

Contactors/relays can definitely fail, and fail hard. Sometimes they fail off, sometimes the fail on, sometimes they totally melt out. Sometimes you get a lemon that doesn't last very long. The control board losing power usually doesn't have anything to do with it, it just depends on which way it decides to stick. I would say that about 40% of the relays I replace fail on, with power going through them, even though the controller is not sending a signal for it to be on.

 

Two months is ridiculous, and not normal for Skutt's customer service. I would get on the phone with them today and tell them to send you a new box ASAP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark C.    1,807

Two months is ridiculous, and not normal for Skutt's customer service. I would get on the phone with them today and tell them to send you a new box ASAP.

I would have called 6 weeks ago but today is better than Friday.

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sawing    1

As a new potter, I bought a used kiln (I'm sure I posted a million questions on these forums about it) brought it home, and plugged it into my 220 in the garage.  Fired two loads of bisque, no problem.  Then fired a glaze load.  Went out to check it and I could smell something burning before I even opened the door.  The whole electrical panel had blown!  It was black and melted.  Sooooo glad my garage is NOT attached to my house. :)  

 

My husband called an electrician who came out and re-wired and replaced the box.  I have been using the kiln for two years now with no problems.  Whew.  

 

As for insurance, we have Farm Bureau and they had no problem with the kiln.  Maybe because it's in a detached garage?  We also heat our entire house with a wood-burning furnace (NOT a wood stove) and they have no problem with that, either.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBaymore    1,432

As a new potter, I bought a used kiln (I'm sure I posted a million questions on these forums about it) brought it home, and plugged it into my 220 in the garage.  Fired two loads of bisque, no problem.  Then fired a glaze load.  Went out to check it and I could smell something burning before I even opened the door.  The whole electrical panel had blown!  It was black and melted.

 

I've heard that same story over and over.  You are not alone.

 

best,

 

......................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DirtRoads    145

 

As a new potter, I bought a used kiln (I'm sure I posted a million questions on these forums about it) brought it home, and plugged it into my 220 in the garage.  Fired two loads of bisque, no problem.  Then fired a glaze load.  Went out to check it and I could smell something burning before I even opened the door.  The whole electrical panel had blown!  It was black and melted.

 

I've heard that same story over and over.  You are not alone.

 

best,

 

......................john

 

What are some of the causes of this? Not enough amps for the 220?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DirtRoads    145

Asked my brother, who has had insurance agencies, for like 30 years about this.   He noted the following:

 

1.  The kiln should be listed on the insurance policy.  In an addendum or as a rider.   Or a letter after the issuance of the policy.  Something in WRITING.  An insurance agent's verbal acceptance would NOT hold up, if the company wanted to challenge your claim.  There is a lot of "fine print" in most home owner insurance policies.   Some agents will tell you sure it's okay, banking on the probability of never having a claim.   And there is the possibility that the underwriting agent might no longer represent the company at the time of your claim.

 

2.  If you had a fire loss and the insurance company could prove you were using a kiln for commercial purposes, this could invalidate a home owner policy claim.  He said certain companies would very likely try to do this, based on his experience.   Most home owner policies would have an express clause (hidden in the policy), allowing the insurance company to deny coverage.   He thought this would be the most likely scenario for denying coverage for a kiln fire.

 

3.  He noted there is a huge difference between commercial insurance and a home owner policy.   Commercial policy would have little to no outs for claim coverage. 

 

4.  Insurance companies that deny claims are feeling the strain from social media.  Companies have lost a significant percentage of their customer base in a specific areas due to post disaster social media.  So yeah, this does put some pressure on them to pay up.

 

5.  Be particularly wary of insurance companies that do not have agent representatives.  

 

6.  Many companies purposely set an agenda to DENY as many claims as possible.

 

7.  Who reads their insurance policy in it's entirety? His clients depend on him to do that for them.   Your agent may be the key to you having the right coverage.   But still get something in WRITING about the kiln. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JBaymore    1,432

What are some of the causes of this? Not enough amps for the 220?

 

Lots of possible causes in my experience:

 

People who think a kiln and a home clothes dryer are the same and just plug in to an existing X amp circuit.

 

Electricians that think they know better than the kiln manufacturer or the kiln installation folks and say they can save the homeowner some money by doing it THIER way.

 

Poeple who wire it themselves and know just enough to be dangerous.

 

Corrosion in connections becasue of improper installation or improper routine maintenence.  Corrosion increases resistance to eletrical flow.... resistance to flow equals heat being generated... heat being generated where is it is not expected equals disaster.

 

Installing a new kiln supply in a REALLY old panel , and not having the whole panel checked out at the same time. (The new circuit is fine.... the old main supply connection is the issue.  See corrosion.....and cobwebs.)

 

That's the basic list.  Neil....... your input?

 

best,

 

......................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CPT    0

So glad I came across this discussion thread:

 

We have been renting for the last 4 years, and my manual electric kiln ( for my business) has gone with me everywhere.  I even had an electrician come over and create a outlet for at as well, no problem.

 

We have recently bought a home and found out that our homeowners insurance DOES not cover the kiln at all!  We have called 2 other insurace companies and they said no, too.  If I do ceramics as a hobby, they said it would be ok.  But if it's for business purposes, no.  Maybe we can call State Farm???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neilestrick    1,381

 

What are some of the causes of this? Not enough amps for the 220?

 

Lots of possible causes in my experience:

 

People who think a kiln and a home clothes dryer are the same and just plug in to an existing X amp circuit.

 

Electricians that think they know better than the kiln manufacturer or the kiln installation folks and say they can save the homeowner some money by doing it THIER way.

 

Poeple who wire it themselves and know just enough to be dangerous.

 

Corrosion in connections becasue of improper installation or improper routine maintenence.  Corrosion increases resistance to eletrical flow.... resistance to flow equals heat being generated... heat being generated where is it is not expected equals disaster.

 

Installing a new kiln supply in a REALLY old panel , and not having the whole panel checked out at the same time. (The new circuit is fine.... the old main supply connection is the issue.  See corrosion.....and cobwebs.)

 

That's the basic list.  Neil....... your input?

 

best,

 

......................john

 

 

Yes, it could be any one of those things. People don't always understand the amperage draw issue, so I've seen people replace the plug on the kiln to match whatever 240V outlet they have in the house and plug it in. In theory it should flip the breaker, but it's possible for it to heat up quite a bit before flipping. Old, corroded connections in the panel can arc and melt things out, too. I've seen several melted breakers. In general, the big issue is that the circuit should be inspected from the start by a certified electrician, and reinspected and cleaned up every few years, especially in humid environments. The power cord-outlet connection is often a point of corrosion since people plug them in and leave them in for years at a time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rockhopper    11

...  If I do ceramics as a hobby, they said it would be ok.  But if it's for business purposes, no.  ....

 

I suspect you'll find that to be the case with most aspects of a typical homeowners policy... "Home (personal) use" is covered - "Business use" is not.

 

If you regularly have customers visiting your home to purchase your work - you may also find that a standard homeowners' liability coverage won't pay if one of those customers falls or is otherwise injured...   I don't know that for certain - it probably varies with companies & policies - but I do know that I used to have some car insurance that specifically stated if I was being paid to transport someone/something, I was not covered unless I the vehicle was listed as 'business use'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
firenflux    45

Must go vacuum my dryer now...

 

I have State Farm for homeowners too.  I have tried to switch to other companies because I feel I could get a lower rate but I haven't been able to find one that will cover my 2 pitbulls other than State Farm.  I didn't even get a chance to go into the kiln issue.  Apparently I am a double threat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

So I recently changed home and car insurance companies to State Farm, I wasn't happy with the company for car insurance purposes, their price for 100/300 was way too high.

 

Anyways, I have been having conversations with my Agent about the kiln in my garage. As others here have said, State Farm said no problem to the kiln. However there isn't any evidence of the kiln in the paperwork or policy. So I called my agent back and was asking him why it wasn't in there. He said it wasn't anything that should be added. This made me feel nervous so I am going to meet with him on Monday. He said basically we can do two things:

 

1. Put the kiln in the insurance the same as jewelry or a firearm. So that it is listed.

2. Get a small business in residence policy. Which is extra to my home policy.

 

Are either of these things what people are speaking about in the first parts of this thread, addon/rider? Now that I think back I am not even sure that my other home owners insurance had the kiln listed physically on paper. I just called and told them I had a kiln installed and they said no problem as well. But this week I started thinking and doing the research here and found this thread and now I am curious. 

 

I stated to him mulitple times I am running a small business and selling ceramics out of my garage on the internet, and that no people enter my house. He said that was fine and I didn't need a business policy for that since no one was actually entering my home.

 

Just to clarify, I am not worried about the equipment in my garage. I just want my house to be covered in case something happens like a tornado.

 

The others who have state farm is it listed somewhere on your home owners policy that there is a kiln on premises? I assumed this was be easy. Tell them about kiln, they add a small fee, and go about my business. Not sure why it is so hard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dhPotter    148

Joseph F, I too have State Farm. I met with my agent a couple of months ago. Told them I was doing pottery. Nothing was said about a kiln on premises. My situation is a little different as the pottery is an unattached building. But it is only 30 feet from the house. 

 

I wonder how hobby welders or metalsmiths are handled by their homeowners ins?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

Joseph F, I too have State Farm. I met with my agent a couple of months ago. Told them I was doing pottery. Nothing was said about a kiln on premises. My situation is a little different as the pottery is an unattached building. But it is only 30 feet from the house. 

 

I wonder how hobby welders or metalsmiths are handled by their homeowners ins?

 

Yea I don't know. He seemed totally fine and was happy to get me on a business policy if I wanted it, but he was insisting that I didn't need it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GEP    863

I'm a State Farm user. There's no mention of "kiln" in my policy either. I made my agent reassure me repeatedly, and he told me repeatedly that there would be no problem in case of a fire. I don't think a tornado or weather event would have any relevance to the kiln. His only concern was that a kiln might be the cause of a fire. But after he came over a took pictures of my kiln area, he said I didn't have to worry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joseph F    865

I'm a State Farm user. There's no mention of "kiln" in my policy either. I made my agent reassure me repeatedly, and he told me repeatedly that there would be no problem in case of a fire. I don't think a tornado or weather event would have any relevance to the kiln. His only concern was that a kiln might be the cause of a fire. But after he came over a took pictures of my kiln area, he said I didn't have to worry.

 

Yea I think I am making my agent crazy because I keep bothering them about it... He said the same thing your agents said. No real reason for it to be in the policy. I guess this makes me feel more comfortable knowing that several people have the same issue I had. I thought for sure it should be in there somewhere. I still don't understand why it is difficult to just put it in there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×