Calling all Kiln Gurus- I need your help!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nothing in life is ever simple- right? My new kiln has come with a whole steaming heap of issues. Those of you who have been around kilns longer than I, can you lend me your insight? Pretty please? Should I be as pissed as I am about these issues- or are these types of things normal and I am just a crazed drama queen (it is ok to say so if you think I am over reacting!).

The first issue is that the control box clearly took a big slam during shipment. While the box seems fine, the top bricks has a sizable crack and large chunk out of the side. As well as the metal from the exterior of the kiln has been slightly pushed into the bricks on the exterior. Some pics to follow...

Next issue- is this normal? I never experienced this on my old kiln. To me it looks like the elements were put in too tight and then rubbed (saw action) on the brick grooves. It has been extremely difficult to re-set dislodged elements because the brick grooves have literally been eaten away and are super fragile. Is this normal?? Pics to follow...

I really appreciate any help you can offer. I'm starting to feel like I purchased a lemon :(


  1. i dont' know about the element placement..however that new kiln arrived damaged and should be replaced..
    what brand is it..
    i've always purchased skutts and used and abused them and they've always held up.
    but i would be on the phone tomorrow about that damage

  2. It is a Paragon. The supplier I went through is giving me the run around. I haven't even heard back from them yet regarding the element grooves. Thanks for responding!

  3. Any kilns I've had (even the home made ones) have had elements that only rested in the recesses. My experience (20 years running a glass blowing studio with 4 kilns) tells me that the elements should not be bunched into the groove (element too long for the run)- neither should they be unduly stretched (coils straightened out - element to short for the space), and they should not be embedded in the brick. Over time, elements always have to be replaced and having them in the brick like that would make replacement a pain in the butt. Also, glaze bits (or in my case, glass) fuses on to the embedded brick and does not allow it to expand and contract normally, and contributes to hot spots and element breakage.

    The brick cracks could indicate potential internal shifting, which could be the cause of the element problem as well ie, shifting rows of brick has caused element pinching.

    And is the kiln new - have you already fired it? The elements don't look new, but it is hard to tell.

    A reputable company should ship with a reputable shipper - it should be covered under insurance! Don't accept that kind of damage...

    When I lived in Toronto, I always dealt with the Pottery Supply in Oakville, Ontario. They designed kilns for me and supplied me with replacement elements for my homemade ones. They are a mine of information, and (10 years ago, at least) were very helpful.

    Sometimes a phone call can be helpful, I see they also sell Paragon kilns....especially if your supplier is giving you the runaround.

    What a pain! Good luck!

  4. THANK YOU! You've been really helpful. The kiln is brand new- that is part of the frustration. It hasn't been fired yet- I'm holding out to see what the supplier has to say.


  5. Hello Kylie, You can call my husband, Reid Schoonover (Jerry Smith also mentioned this). You can go to Reid's website at and go to "Contact." Both numbers are listed. Reid has had experience with a lot of different kilns.

  6. Kylie I do not know anything about kilns... BUT I know you purchased something expecting it to come new and ready to go. If it is damaged it should be replaced. You are not over reacting. Keep contacting them until you get what you paid for or a refund.

  7. Thanks Pat! I sent Reid an email. I appreciate your help. Still trying to deal with this fiasco...

  8. For the damage caused by shipping, I think you need to go through the Authorized Paragon Distributor that you purchased the kiln through. Call them and tell them your kiln was damaged in shipping and you need to file a claim. If they are ignoring you, call Paragon and tell them your story--I doubt Paragon will appreciate one of their distributors ignoring your problem; you can also ask if they think the element issue is due to shipping damage. If you still have the packing material, hang onto it; it will help with the claim.

    In my experience, small cracks get larger with the expansion and contraction of high heat, and usually result in fine brick particles snowing down your work--to be permanently fused to the surface forever.