L&L element holders require no pins so the elements can expand over time on their own without bulging out between pins. However, elements do fall out of the holders sometimes. Because of grain growth in the element wire after being heated many times, or sometimes when the kiln is new and the elements have not settled into the grooves, the elements will "jump" out of the holders.
The elements can probably be saved if they have not stretched out.
- Get heat-resistant gloves.
- Turn the kiln on for a little while to heat up the elements so they are slightly soft.
- TURN THE KILN OFF! (Or you could be electrocuted and killed.)
- Using needle nose pliers or other pliers pick up the element in two places. Stretch as needed but try not to change the shape too much. You may have to compress the element slightly if the length has grown.
- Place the element back in the holder.
- If you have some bits of fired high-temperature (cone 6 or higher) clay use them as a wedge to force the element in the groove.
- Go around the entire length of the element and make sure it is as far down into the groove as you can.
- You may have to reheat more than once to get the element to be pliable.
- Heat the kiln to cone 5.
Another way to heat up the element is with a propane torch and needle-nose pliers.
- Be very careful with the propane torch. Wear leather working gloves and safety glasses. It is worth it to go to Home Depot and get the push-button ignition system type of torch. You grab the torch, press the trigger, out comes the flame, release the trigger, and the flame goes out. All with one hand.
- To do it right, do the bottom-most repairs in a kiln first. That way you are not leaning past the heat from the last repair.
- Heat up about 3" of the element near one side of where it comes out of the holder. Heat the element until it is red hot. Turn off the heat and use the pliers to push that section of the element back into the element holder. When the metal is red hot it is very pliable. Compress the coils if necessary to shorten the element. Keep moving along the element, always getting hot to the part of the element that is closest to being back in the element holder. Try to keep the spaces between the element coils even as you push them into place.
NOTE: On some of the larger DaVinci kilns (like the T3400 series), where the elements are long and the corners are sharper than in a polygonal kiln, it is sometimes a good idea to wedge in the elements with the small ceramic spacers that we put in the corners for shipping.