L&L BLOG

Can you salvage a kiln flooded in a storm?

A customer writes: I need to find out if there is any way to fix/test/refurbish my kiln. I am in Florida and the kiln was flooded with a mix of seawater and rainwater during and after hurricane Ian. The water depth was approx 18". Can the shelves be washed and reused?  I'm fearful of salt absorption that will show up in later firings.

L&L: We are so sorry this happened. Unfortunately, with water damage in kilns, many things are not salvageable.  Below are a few factors that make it difficult.

  • Firebricks can absorb up to 16 ounces of water each and there is virtually no way to know if they are dried thoroughly before firing. This can cause steam and eventual cracking and/or catastrophic brick damage.
  • The shelves are every bit as complicated and you would need to have them fully dry before firing. 
  • The salt adds another layer of complications, significantly if it did absorb into the brick and shelves. 
  • The high salinity levels will also inevitably corrode the metal case unless it can somehow be fully removed. 
  • Salt can also build up on the heating elements which would cause more energy consumption to heat.  I have read of ways to remove it, but the documented results are specious at best when it comes to being a solution. 
  • If the control panel itself got wet at all, it almost certainly needs replacement.  There are sensitive components that cannot get wet.

Sadly, many times in flooding situations, the kiln needs to be replaced.  We have known some owners to file insurance claims depending on their property policies. We hope this is helpful.  We always lean toward the side of caution when it comes to electricity and liquids. 


How to use post with a powered bottom

Customer:

Hi, I am trying to figure out the best way to place my kiln posts in my powered bottom kiln. While I have figured out a somewhat acceptable configuration that manages to avoid placing posts directly on top of the heating elements, it is not my ideal arrangement and won’t be as stable. I am wondering is it ok to place kiln posts directly over the heating elements in the powered bottom? Is this dangerous or problematic? I also have advancer kiln shelves so I worry that a post directly on top of a heating element may conduct heat more rapidly into the shelf and cause uneven heating and compromise the shelf. Does it make more sense for me to use a cordierite shelf for the bottom shelf if uneven heating is a major issue? Does it make more sense for me to just use the slightly less stable (but probably stable enough) post configuration where no posts are directly on top of a heating element? Thank you you for your continued support, I know that’s a lot of questions.

 

L&L: 

I would worry that you might overheat the element if the post was directly on top of the element.

I see nothing wrong with the advancer shelves as your first layer but your testing and firing will tell you the story. They do transmit heat better than cordierite shelves. Also, they are lighter and that will help you load your mass more evenly.