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Unfortunately that isnt the end of it. I got mine in October and its developed a crack despite having the expansion joints in them (my crack is actually running down from the fire ring and connecting two holes, opposite the expansion cut. Opened a ticket, awaiting response.
Mods or John, please feel free to add whatever to this post and possibly make this a sticky. There are several new members buying KJ and not knowing deflector placement during certain cooks. I have made this post as an educational tool for members who own a KJ.
I too have been the victim of a cracked fire bowl. It baffled me as I thought that I did everything right. I followed on line videos and others directions and still cracked two bowls. I really was starting to believe that it may have been an issue with ceramics, however, other members were not cracking bowls..... I began thinking that maybe it was something that I had done or was doing to cause this???
So after replacing my two bowls, and since purchasing another 3 kamado Joes I have learned through trial and error and have not yet cracked a bowl in over a year and well over 200 cooks on my kamado's. A few simple tweaks and I am happy to report that I am crack free in over a year.
So here are some things that I have changed:
when shutting down the grill, I shut the bottom vent and leave the holes open, gradually closing them to allow for heat to escape when the kamado is hot. I always wondered what the sudden closure of both vents would do with the heat continually building when the fire is snuffing out.
For different temp cooks I place my deflectors in certain positions:
300 or less - deflectors in low position
300 to 500 - deflectors on top of xrack (sits them a bit higher allowing for more heat to escape the fire box)
500 and above - deflectors on top of the grill in top position (creating max room for heat to escape the fire box)
Nuclear for high heat burn - deflectors separated resting on top grill so two half moon resting on the top grill not joined together
for indirect cooking, I double stack the deflectors to one side, allowing for 2 zone cooking and free movement of heat. (2 zone for me is usually between 350-400)
The most common time that I hear of a bowl cracking is during a pizza cook. Here is my set up for pizza now, not saying it is the right way, but it works and no more cracks. I put the deflectors on top of the grill with copper T plumbing fittings and the pizza stone on top of the fittings for air flow.
Anwyas, this is not the gospel, and sometimes things just fail.... but a few small tweaks and you may have similar outcomes like I have had over the past year
Thanks for the heads up. I'm on my third firebox in two years. So I will try to follow the advice in your post to see if I can put a halt to the cracking. KJ should send out this info to all new and old users to try and prevent this cracking from happening.
I have always put my deflectors the highest i could go with pizza cooks and still got a cracked firebox and base. In fact, I have only had my Big Joe for 7.5 months and have filed 4 warranty claims, 3 of which are cracked ceramics and the other my hinge.