KNOWLEDGEBASE

What's the worst thing that can happen from restarting after an Error Code?

Keep in mind that you run the risk of over-firing if you re-start while the kiln is very close to the final temperature. A pyrometric cone melts with the proper combination of time and temperature. Add more time and you don't need as high a temperature, go to a higher temperature and you don't need as much time. When an error code shuts down the kiln near your final temperature (within about 50 degrees) and you do not know exactly how long it has been cooling, or what temperature it reached before the error code appeared, you run the risk of having too much time in your time-temperature equation. The DynaTrol calculates this equation automatically after determining how many degrees per hour the kiln is climbing (time) and to what temperature it is climbing to (temperature). However, it cannot do this accurately after a high temperature re-start.

If you have cones in the kiln that you can see through the peepholes, then use these after you re-start and turn off the kiln manually when the target cone bends over.

If you do not have cones visible then you can gamble and estimate a final temperature based on how many degrees per hour the kiln has risen, including the time it was off.

For example, you come in and the control says tC 2, 2200 (degrees F) and everything seems fine in your slow glaze to cone 6 firing. But twenty-five minutes later you come back and see Err1.

The first thing you want to do is press #1 to clear the error code. Look for tC 2's temperature and write it down. It might be 2175. You have no cones in the kiln but you really need these pieces fired. Wait a few seconds until you see "IdLE, tC 2, 2175". Press Start to re-start the program and note the time on your watch. Note the 25 minutes the kiln was "holding" from the last time you saw it at 2200°F until this time, where it says 2175. It must have continued to climb somewhat, but because the Err1 will appear after 22.5 minutes of holding when the kiln is programmed to be climbing, it probably never got over 2210°F. So the kiln has held at an average of about 2195°F for about 25 minutes, instead of continuing on to 2232°F (cone 6) to finish the firing. The relationship between time and temperature allows you to estimate how much hold time to add to get the same amount of heat work as the kiln would have achieved by climbing to 2232°F. Assuming a 108°F per hour temperature rise, a good rule of thumb is to add about a 20 minute hold to the maximum temperature; this will allow you to lower the final temperature by about 20°F. An hour hold time would mean a final temperature of about 40°F lower. A two hour hold time would be about 60°F lower. (This same information and more about time and temperature is in the section on pyrometric cones) In this example, the kiln has already held at about 35 degrees lower than the final temperature for 25 minutes. It would need another 25 minutes of holding to give the ware the same amount of heat work that 2232°F (cone 6) would have.

In reality, however, an Err1 that close to the end of a firing probably means you need new elements. So restarting the kiln will probably not enable it to climb much higher in temperature. Keeping track of the time, let it run, and when it shows Err1 again just keep re-starting it until the firing finishes. Meanwhile call and order new elements.

Be very careful if you try this method. On loads that are very important always use cones you can see through the peepholes in case of a failure of some kind. If you have to use this method without the cones, remember that almost all your calculations are based on estimates and the results could be disastrous to your ware and/or the kiln if you are not accurate enough. The further away the temperature that the kiln is holding at is from the cone that the firing was trying to get to, the less accurate an estimated amount of time will be to achieve the amount of heat work necessary. If you can wait and re-fire from room temperature, you should. If you depend in any way on your kiln you should keep spare parts around for it. You could replace the elements easily yourself after the kiln cools and then re-load it and re-fire it to the proper cone without losing much time at all. Or consider that most glazes have an entire cone's temperature range that they can mature within. Weigh your options and decide.

In general though, Error Codes mostly appear after the kiln has been disassembled and set back up improperly, has had its power supply altered (like moving to a new studio with different voltage), or has had an element or a thermocouple burn out.