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FourTailsLampwork 2007-05-04 5:46am

Calling All Electricity Gurus
Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might cause a Bartlett controller to short out and an oxycon to have compressor problems?

I just moved into a new house. When I set up my lampworking area, two of my electrical tools either shorted out or quit working--the kiln controller and the oxygen concentrator. The Bartlett three-key controller shorted out rather spectacularly at the stage where it begins to heat the kiln coils. When I had my electrician replace the transformer, it shorted out again at the same place. AIM replaced the transformer, and it is working perfectly. From what I gather about the oxygen concentrator, its compressor is having trouble; the machine can't turn the motor to begin working.

Now, the electrician had never worked on kilns, but AIM didn't say anything about his having installed the transformer incorrectly. They think it may be something in the wiring here. So before I waste another $12 on shipping and $48 on repair of the controller, plus $81 for fruitless repair, plus $60 for shipping the oxygen concentrator, none of which I can afford:

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might cause a Bartlett controller to short out and an oxycon to have compressor problems? I have a home warranty and it would be nice to have something precise to tell whatever electrician the company sends out.

skookum 2007-05-04 7:29am

A place to start is are both the kiln and and the concentrator on the same circuit (breaker)? DH is an electrician and wired in my studio and I will ask him to look at your post this evening.

Dale M. 2007-05-04 7:57am

Is oxy-con having problem in one area, or is it whole house (move it around to try it), if its one area you have a localized problem with wiring. IF its whole house, you either have problem with whole house wiring or problem with oxy-con... Do lights dim down or flicker when oxy-con tries to start up?

Did both of these items work find at old lacation?... IF the were fine at old location, I would suspect wiring problems in new home...


FourTailsLampwork 2007-05-04 8:26am

Both were fine at the old location. The oxycon worked here for a while, and nothing dimmed when it kicked on. I don't know about the kiln; it shorted the first time I used it here. Both are on the same circuit, but it looks as if it's heavy enough to support the electrical draw. If the electrician can't find anything wrong, I'll see if she or he can put in a dedicated circuit for the kiln.

Dale M. 2007-05-04 8:38am

Most kilns draw about 13-14 amps... This is every time it clicks on (cycling many times a hour) and this is pretty close maximum capacity of most outlet circuit breakers. These usually being 15 amps. If oxy-con and kiln are on same circuit the are trying to rob each other of power and causing a sort of "brown out" on that circuit. IF you move oxy-con to different receptacle circuit, or add circuit for kiln, it should solve your problem...


skookum 2007-05-04 4:45pm

As what Dale said, try the oxycon on a different circuit. The easiest way to do this is to connect via extension cord to another room. All the outlets in the room are usually on the same circuit. As for hallway plugs, they may or may not be on the same circuit as your room.
If that solves the problem, get the electrician to put in a separate circuit.

Frostfire 2007-05-04 5:18pm

Mincot, it's just a thought, but when was the house built? A fair number of houses built in the Atlanta area in the late 60s-early 70s have aluminum wiring instead of copper wiring. Not that it will necessarily cause a problem, but it's reason to be cautious.

Kalera 2007-05-04 5:31pm

What Dale said is one consideration, and another is to check to make sure your wiring is properly grounded. There are two common ways to ground wiring: one is to run the ground wire to iron plumbing (it does act as a ground because the pipe goes into the earth, but may not always be efficient enough to prevent shorting) and the other, code-correct way, is to drive an iron stake into the ground outside of your home close to your circuit box and run multiple copper wires to that. If you have one, you can't miss it; it's a stake with a bundle of wire running to it, right by your foundation. If you don't, you may want to have your electrician put one in; it's not expensive.

Another possibility is a short-circuit somewhere in your electrical system, such as a loose wire touching conduit. Your electrician should be able to find something like this fairly easily, if that is the case.

FourTailsLampwork 2007-05-06 9:18am

I bought one of those plug in tester doohickies that K. recommended (in a PM), and guess what? Kalera's right; the plug is hot grounded to neutral. So I tested everything else, and that seems to be the only plug with a problem. Of course, it WOULD be the plug that hosted the kiln .... What worries me is that the second short happened when the electrician had installed the transformer, and THAT was on a plug that's fine.

smutboy420 2007-05-07 4:20am

The controller could of crapped out just because its a bartlett. Thats perfectly normal with them.

The concentrator sounds like its got a bad start capacitor on the compresser.

FourTailsLampwork 2007-05-15 7:47am

Thank you to all who replied!

My story has a happy and relatively cheap ending. (That's without totting up what I paid for repairs and shipping to kiln controller and oxygen concentrator!). It turned out that the outlet in question had been added later, and was indeed putting out 240 volts. From the bolt marks outside we suspect someone had a window AC there.

So the electrician put it back to regular voltage, and pointed out that it was on its own 20 amp circuit. HEEEE! The bad side was that it wasn't a warranty issue, but for $20 more than the service call I now have a single plug 20 amp circuit dedicated to my kiln. What a terrible shame, but I think I can deal with it .... :) :) :) :)

He also, for another $20, fixed the double-tapped circuit that was screwing up my breaker box. Three cheers! He even reattached my Bartlett controller to the kiln for free (for obvious reasons I was nervous even though I knew perfectly well how to do it), and we tested it ... one garaging and one batch annealing cycle later, all is good!

Dale M. 2007-05-15 7:55am

Cool....... I hate it when some dork wires a 120 volt receptical for 240....


Frostfire 2007-05-17 7:42am

Mincot, that makes me wonder if the same idiot who wired your circuit for 240V also is the idiot who used to own my place and fancied himself a handyman? Yeah, he was a handyman like I am a marathon runner!

Having gotten the electrician and the refrigerator serviceperson out here in the past week, the plumber is next...

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