Thank you for the reply. No, that plastic piece is definitely one of those flimsy little sleeves - thin, clear and flexible. It was literally in the hole for the temperature probe inside the heatblock and I have no idea how or why. I'll just leave it out since I can't imagine it had a purpose, and I still don't know how come it didn't melt.
And you were correct about the plastic; there was a blob of polypropylene that took me about 20 minutes to dig out with a heat gun and needle.
Are you sure it's not a piece of leaked plastic that formed itself around the sensor? I think there's a bit of internal "sleeving" inside the sensor IIRC which can be what you're seeing as well, but I don't remember it creeping out that far. Either way, if it's reporting sane temperatures I don't see a problem. Keep an eye on things the first time you fire things up again.
The heater should go further in than that. You should be able to see the tip of it through the little slot at the front of the block. You likely have some plastic in there that is preventing you from inserting it fully. Do you have a heatgun? That's the best way to heat the plastic inside there up enough for you to get the heater all the way in.
An alternative is to briefly turn the heater on while it is inserted half way into the block. If the sensor isn't in the block, or if things aren't making proper contact the heater will quite quickly get extremely hot since it can't dump all the heat into the block and it has no temperature feedback to know when to turn off. So turn it on for say 5-10 seconds at a time to heat things up.
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