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Re: [teacherartexchange] kiln troubles


From: Sidnie Miller (SMILLER_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Nov 21 2007 - 09:20:06 PST

It sounds like your exhaust fan is way too small to take care of your room and kiln. Schools are famous for cheaping out and getting bathroom fans to empty a huge room. The fans are rated by how many cubic feet of air they can move per minute--and if you call your kiln company they probably will have a recommended fan size. The kilns always say that you shouldn't fire without supervision. When I was in a room with an inadequate fan, I used to start the kiln on Fridays around 5 or 6pm and then come in first thing Saturday morning and check on it. It took around 11 hours to fire anyway. Don't put paper in your kiln and it will help with the smoke, but there is a big chemical smell as you get things going, and it's not good for you or your students to breathe it. Tell your principal you need a good fan, and tell the janitors it's ok to smell bad.

>>> Jeannie <> 11/21/2007 1:04 am >>>
Can anyone advise me on this?

Yesterday afternoon I started a glaze firing. When I left the building
the temp was over 200 and it was a little stinky, but nothing unusual.
However one hour later the custodian and teachers (it was parent
teacher conference night) were freaking out as smoke was coming out
the art room door which was closed. The kiln temp was in the 700s.

So my thinking is that my kiln fan is inadequate or blocked up. But
the head of maintainance was apparently so upset about this that he
turned off the electric current at the breaker box on the kiln and
another breaker box down the hall. That may have stopped the fan too.

I need advice on how to proceed. School maintainance folks really do
not have much experience or understanding about kilns or kiln safety.
No do I. But I do think my kiln exhaust fan should be adequate to
handle normal glaze firings, exhausting the fumes from the glaze and
waxed bottoms. How can I test this fan I have?

The kiln and fan were new when I took the job five years ago. All the
decisions were made before I got there -- no idea how to tell if the
fan was ever sufficient.

I'm pretty sure they will not want me to fire the rest of these
wonderful little bowls which I have done every year with my kids. This
is not the first kiln incident. The kiln is sometimes stinkier than
other times. One time it was empty and open and turned itself on (a
power surge?) and a piece of newspaper hanging over the edge of the
kiln (to protect my clothes from the rusty edge when I lean down into
the bottom of the kiln) caught fire. And sometimes the kiln is just
blamed anytime there is a fire-y smell in the building. I had been
called to the school earlier in the day about this. The kiln was off.
It turns out the students were making holiday feasts in the classrooms.

Jeannie in PA, k - 5

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