Run a Paper Test

Running a paper test is a great way to troubleshoot your kiln. With just some scraps of paper and 5 minutes you can determine if you have any elements or relays that need replacing.

Despite it's usefulness, the paper test cannot compare to the information that you can get from a multimeter. It will only point you in the direction of a problem, not pinpoint it.

The Paper Test

  1. Start by folding up small strips of paper. You will need one paper per element in the kiln that you want to test.
  2. Turn off the kiln and unplug it (or at least shut it off at the circuit breaker/fused disconnect).
  3. Insert the paper scraps in between the coils of each element. It does not matter where along the element.
  4. Plug-in and turn on the kiln.
  5. Program for Fast Glaze to any cone (or turn manual switches on high).
  6. With the lid open, watch the paper scraps for smoking. (Do NOT reach into the kiln while it is on. Contact with the elements could cause electrocution and/or burns).
  7. After approximately 2 minutes, the paper should start to smoke. Wait another minute or so to give them all a chance to burn.
  8. Turn off the kiln and unplug it (or at least shut it off at the circuit breaker/fused disconnect).
  9. Use pliers, tweezers, etc. to remove the paper from the elements as they will still be very hot. Make sure to note which pieces burned and which, if any, did not.
  10. Vacuum or simply blow out any remaining ashes in the element holders.


Once you have your results, you can start to draw some conclusions. We will look at one section at a time. These are some potential results and causes. Keep in mind you might have any combination of these issues.

If the paper is not burnt in one element in a ring:

  1. The element is burnt out/broken and needs to be replaced.
  2. Your elements are wired incorrectly at the element terminal block.

If the paper is not burnt in all (2 or 3) elements in a ring:

  1. All elements in the ring are burnt out/broken and need replacing.
  2. Your relay for that section is burnt out and not working.
  3. One (or more) of the power wires to that ring is burnt or disconnected.
  4. Your controller is not sending the proper output to the relay. Test the controller.