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. 

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Repairs