Soooo…. kiln elements, which come all sproingy from the manufacturer, are supposed to get brittle and inflexible after their first firing. Mine, for whatever reason, didn’t. I don’t know if that’s a fluke or if the received knowledge on element flexibility is just off. I’ve had two or three explosions in my kiln in the past year, which have occasioned much fastidious vacuuming for shard-removal purposes. And each time, the elements were still sproingy enough that, when shards were too much at home inside the element grooves to be sucked out, I could just pull the element out of the way and fetch them manually. This week, I had my third explosion, and lo, there were some uncooperative shards which were feeling nice and cozy in the grooves, and they did not like the idea of leaving. So I pulled at the element and… it snapped.
It finally got brittle. It took a couple dozen firings, but the inevitable had decided to happen.
I sort of stuffed the sad little ends back into the groove and went about my muddy life, because I do not have any spares on hand (despite telling myself TWO MINUTES after placing my last element order that I should really get around to keeping spares in the studio). I was expecting kiln performance to be slowed down, but still vaguely acceptable, until such time as a new box of elements could be shipped to me.
Then I had a thought. If the ends are still in contact, are they still conducting electricity? I flicked on the element, waited a bit, and held my hand next to the broken area. Sure enough, it was hot. So that’s pretty neat. The only problem I can see (two firings later without noticeable slowing of kiln, yay!) is that the expansion and contraction of heating elements might wiggle the two ends loose or something. This website has a more solid-looking solution, which I’ll be trying out as soon as I can get my hands on a torch.