Your NCAT heating elements might not be working properly

You don’t need to know the inner workings of an NCAT ignition furnace to understand how it works. You fill a basket with material, you put that basket into the NCAT, you press start and 20-40 minutes later (hopefully) you pull out the aggregate with all the liquid burnt off.

But what do you do if everything isn’t burnt off?

Your heating elements

The NCAT ignition oven has 4-5 heating elements located in your furnace. There are four elements in the chamber and in newer style units there is an extra element located above the chamber. Each heating element’s job is to… get hot. It does this by running current through a wire and then adding a certain amount of resistance to generate heat.

Did you know that each heating element has to sit in its designated space? While the left and right elements have the same amount of resistance they can’t be used interchangeably. Doing so will cause your elements to fail prematurely.

When an element stops working your furnace won’t tell you that something is wrong. Instead you’ll start to notice that burns are taking longer than usual or that your temperatures don’t look high enough. When it gets really bad, sometimes you’ll still have liquid leftover or soot on the side of the basket that has the element out.

What to do if you think your element is bad

Perform an element check

If you suspect an element isn’t working, the first thing you can do is perform an element check.

  1. Turn off your NCAT or make sure that it is cold
  2. Open the front door of the chamber and flip the green switch

The furnace has a safety feature built in that prevents it from heating with the door open

  1. You’ll see a countdown on your scale readout. When it’s done, close the door for 20 seconds
  2. Open the door and gingerly touch each side, the top, and bottom elements and feel for heat.
    1. At this point you should be able to feel if one of the elements isn’t getting hot
  3. Close the door and let the furnace continue heating for another 30 seconds
  4. Turn the furnace off and press and hold the number 7 key on your keypad and turn the power switch back on
  5. Numbers should pop up in your temperature and percent loss window. Check and see if the percent loss number is higher than the temperature display
  6. If they aren’t, go ahead and fill out our service form on our website or give us a call at 804.893.4076 and we’ll walk you through more troubleshooting steps.

Why should I check my elements?

Ensures that your heating system is performing correctly

The number one correctable issue that we get about the NCAT is that burns take too long. The truth is, the NCAT can finish a burn in as little as 25-30 minutes. Proper maintenance and upkeep is essential in making sure you give your NCAT a fighting chance. When your heating elements are working properly, they provide the best temperature environment to ignite your liquid.

Can improve draft

Believe it or not, your afterburner heating element could be in the way of achieving the perfect burn. Your NCAT works in the same way a campfire does. There needs to be enough airflow moving through your furnace in order for ignition to happen, but also not too much or else ignition can’t happen.

You increase airflow in a number of ways, but one that most people don’t think of is in the way your unit gets rid of debris.

There is a filter above your chamber that uses the energy from the afterburner heating element to char anything that passes through it. If your afterburner isn’t working, the debris won’t be able to pass through the filter as easily and as a result you will see lower and lower draft numbers.

Reduces your startup time

If your furnace is struggling to hit its temperature after the hour mark, there might be an issue with an element. The NCAT needs all of the elements to work together in order to heat up properly. If one of the elements is out, there will barely be enough energy to heat up your chamber.

There are two ways to help improve your heat up time.

  • Replacing the element that’s out
    • Duh
  • Buying and using one of our Metal Hearth Plates.
    • They are compatible with every NCAT furnace type
    • They work to reflect energy back into the chamber instead of absorbing it
    • They can reduce the amount of liquid left in your pan

Replacing and ensuring that your heating elements are in working order will help to eliminate downtime and keep up with increasing demand. If you feel that your NCAT isn’t performing at 100% but can’t figure out the issue, give us a call at 804.893.4076 or email

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