The microwave is one of the most commonly used appliances in your kitchen. Without it, you won’t be able to heat up leftovers or refrigerated dishes. If you’re like most people, this means that you will have to live on deliveries or takeout.
But it’s such a waste to just leave the microwave like that. If you didn’t know, you can repair your own microwave when it starts to malfunction. Here are some common problems that you can fix on your own.
Problem: The Microwave Won’t Turn On
The most common microwave problem is it not turning on. Let’s say you just plugged it in and the time just showed on the touchpad. After you’ve picked the settings of the microwave and closed the door, it doesn’t do anything even if you wait it out. The lights didn’t turn on and there was no heating whatsoever.
This is a classic scenario of a malfunctioning microwave. There are many reasons why it’s not working. Here are some:
- Faulty touchpad
- Damaged door switch
- Worn out thermal fuse
- Broken ceramic fuse
When your microwave doesn’t work, first check the touchpad. The touchpad is the set of buttons you see on the microwave that you use to adjust the settings. A touchpad works by having the outer button touch a layer of Mylar plastic that will start an electric circuit. This will trigger a signal to the control panel of your microwave. If the touchpad itself isn’t working, this means that you need to replace it. Continued use over time will wear it out and there is no other way to fix it than a replacement.
On the other hand, if it’s the control panel that’s not working, try cleaning it. Do this by detaching the control panel from the microwave. Remove the wires that are attached to it, too. Once it’s detached, clean each connector. Dust it off and wipe it using prongs with alcohol.
The second reason why your microwave won’t turn on is a damaged door switch. The door switch triggers the control panel if the door of the microwave is already closed. To know if the door switch is broken, first unplug the microwave. Then, unscrew the area beside the control panel where the door switch is found. If it appears to be damaged, then it’s time to replace it.
Another possible cause of a malfunctioning microwave is a worn-out thermal fuse. A thermal fuse, also known as a thermal cut-out, is responsible for maintaining the heat in the microwave. This also helps prevent overheating inside. If the thermal fuse is broken, your microwave will automatically not work for safety reasons. To fix the thermal fuse, unplug the oven and remove the cabinet covered by the control panel. It would look like a plug. Disconnect it from the terminal and replace it if there is no continuity. To know if there’s continuity, use a multi-meter.
Similar to the thermal fuse is the ceramic fuse. But unlike the former, the latter is responsible for protecting your microwave from power fluctuations when it’s turned on. When this is damaged, your microwave will not work. To replace it, follow the steps in repairing a thermal fuse except that the ceramic fuse is found at the side near the power card.
Problem: The Touchpad Won’t Work
Unlike the control panel, you will know if the touchpad isn’t working. The touchpad is made up of soft-touch electrical switches that have a gap in between each other. When a person presses a button, the gap closes and creates a trigger for the control board. Over time, the material that covers these buttons will wear out which causes an unresponsive touchpad. If you see that the material is worn out, then replacement is the best way to get your microwave fixed.
Problem: The Light Doesn’t Turn On
Notice when you start the microwave. There is always an amber light that turns on for you to see the dish being heated. But there are times when the light doesn’t turn on even if the heating has started. This means that there is something wrong with the light bulb.
There are three possible reasons why the light bulb doesn’t turn on. First is that it is already busted. When a light bulb has fused, this means that the heat caused it (or part of it) to melt. To fix this, detach the light bulb and replace it with a new one. The bulb is found just behind the grill at the back part of the microwave. Second, is that the bulb socket is defective. The bulb socket is where the light bulb is placed. To check if this is defective, try changing the bulb. If you attach a new bulb and it still doesn’t work, then the bulb socket should be changed. Lastly, the light doesn’t turn on because of bad wiring. When this is the case, check the wiring that is connected to the control panel. The wiring might have come loose or that it needs to be replaced. On the other hand, the control panel might be the culprit because it is possible that it fails to give voltage through the wire.
Problem: The Plate Isn’t Turning
If the plate isn’t turning, this is mainly because there is a problem with the rotating motor. The rotating motor is found beneath the plate. Its primary use is to turn the plate whenever the microwave starts. However, if the plate doesn’t spin, this can mean one of two things. One, the rotating motor could be burnt. Two, the motor itself is defective.
Before you assume that the rotating motor is defective, check first if the touchpad is working. If it is and it responds to the adjustments you make, then it’s the motor. You can replace the motor by unplugging the microwave first and then removing the plate. Make sure that when you do this, the interior of the microwave is clean. This will prevent any oil and chemical from affecting the new rotating motor.
Problem: The Door Isn’t Closing
Although it’s not common for microwave doors not to close, it can still happen. A defective microwave door is caused by a broken door latch. The door latch is found on the door of the microwave itself. It’s often made of plastic that sticks out of the door opposite the hinges. The latches signal the door switch to start the heating when the microwave door is closed. However, there are times when the latches get broken because of too much use. When they are misaligned or broken, the door will not close which in effect will not trigger the microwave to turn on.
The best way to fix this is to remove the broken door latches and replace them with new ones. To do this, unplug the microwave from the power source first. Then, remove the door panel which houses the door latch.
A Few Tips When Troubleshooting
When your microwave starts to act up, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s at the end of its life. Based on the solutions above, there is actually a lot you can do. But since you are dealing with an appliance, here are a few things you should always remember:
1. Unplug the microwave.
Before anything else, you should always unplug the microwave. When you clean it and when you fix it, the first step is always to remove any connection to a power source so that you don’t risk electrical shock. This is also the best precaution you can take to avoid damaging the control panel.
2. Clean your microwave.
Apart from unplugging the microwave, another thing you should do before repairing your microwave is to clean it. A dirty microwave is one cause for the appliance to break down even if it’s new. Dirt and oil can seep into the motor underneath. Besides, a bad smell can accumulate inside it which can make it harder for you to stand when you repair the microwave.
3. Consult with a professional.
But even if there are solutions presented here, you should also consider consulting a professional. There are times when there is a problem with the microwave which can’t be fixed by replacement. Take, for example, a problem with the control panel. If it still malfunctions after cleaning, bring it to a repair shop.
Since the microwave is one of the most common appliances used in the kitchen, it only makes sense to maintain it properly. This means that you should clean it after a week. This includes removing the stench left behind by the food that you cook.
Other than that, you should also remember that DIY isn’t always the best way to repair a broken microwave. Although you can save on repairing it yourself, a professional will be able to give a better diagnosis on it. They will also know how best to repair it. If you are lucky, the repair of your microwave will come for free if it’s still under warranty.