Microwave Not Heating: Tips, Tricks, And Solutions

kitchen with microwave on drawer

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​Is your microwave not heating? Considering they are small kitchen appliances, microwaves make a big impact on your life. They limit the time you spend in the kitchen, allowing you to get back to the things you enjoy in life. So, when they stop working, it can be frustrating. These tips, tricks, and solutions will help you see if you can make your microwave work again or if you need to get a new one.

Preventative Maintenance

As with any other electronics in your home, the best defense is a good offense. Taking good care of your microwave can prevent most issues from cropping up. It saves you money on repairs or replacements and increases your microwave’s lifespan.

One way to care for your microwave is to clean it often. Cleaning your microwave can prevent food debris and dust particles from clogging your fan. Use a non-corrosive cleaning product when cleaning your microwave to prevent your microwave’s components from rusting.

Additionally, know that when you cook foods without a lot of moisture, you run the risk of blowing a fuse. This is especially true if you don’t give your microwave a break between uses. So, if you enjoy cooking popcorn or other low-moisture foods, always give your microwave time to cool down.

Another way to care for your microwave is to pay attention to what you’re putting inside it. For the most part, utensils should not be going in your microwave. Microwave-safe containers and dishes are usually labeled. If you check them and do not see a microwave-safe label, you’re better off using a different one than chancing it with something uncertain.

Troubleshooting 101

If you do have issues with your microwave not heating, basic troubleshooting can help. Sometimes, the solution is easier than you think! Use this quick checklist to do basic troubleshooting on your microwave.

  • Is your microwave plugged in?
  • Is anything preventing your microwave door from closing?
  • Is anything, including paper towels, poking out of the closed door of your microwave?
  • Is the dish you’re using in the microwave too large for the turntable to rotate appropriately?
  • Is your microwave positioned in a way that prevents air from flowing out the back vent?

If you’ve checked these issues and still have problems with your microwave not heating, you’ll need to do a little more work to get it back in shape.

Making Sure Your Outlet Works

Photo of a white socket

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If your microwave isn’t turning on at all, the issue might be with your outlet. Try unplugging your microwave and plugging it into an outlet that you know works. This might mean bringing your microwave to a different room. If your microwave works when you plug it in at a separate location, then you need to resolve the issue with your outlet.

First, check to see if your outlet has a reset button on it. Depressing this button could correct your issue. If that doesn’t work, try resetting the outlet by turning the circuit that controls the outlet off and back on. If that still doesn’t work, you may need to replace the outlet entirely.

Checking Your Power Cord

Photo of a power cord

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Any time you have an issue with an appliance, you should check the power cord for signs of damage. Damaged power cords are a common cause of house fires, so you don’t want to ignore them. Signs of damage include missing prongs, cracked or splitting wire casing, and exposed metal wires.

If your power cord is mildly damaged, you may be able to fix it using electrical tape. But if your power cord shows signs of severe damage, don’t keep using it. Check with your microwave manufacturer to see if they can replace the power cord for your microwave. If they can’t or won’t do that, you’ll need to get a new microwave.

Cleaning Your Microwave

It may seem weird to clean a microwave that’s not heating. Believe it or not, washing your microwave is a good first step to fixing it. If you haven’t cleaned your microwave in a while, bits of food may have jammed the components. Cleaning your microwave may be all you need to do to fix your problem.

If bits of food have broken your fan or caused you to blow a fuse, cleaning won’t fix the problem. But if you don’t clean your microwave before repairing it, it could break again for the same reason.

With a toothpick, unstop any vents, both inside and outside of your microwave. Use warm water and non-corrosive cleaning products to scrub the inside of your microwave. Be sure to remove the rotating tray to clean underneath as well.

Checking for Loose Screws

Another easy way to repair your microwave yourself is to tighten any loose screws. Loose screws can cause circuits to short out. Tightening them can correct the problem and get your microwave working again with minimal effort on your part.

Inspect your microwave inside and out to find loose screws. Be sure that if you do see a screw to tighten, you unplug your microwave first.

Dealing with a Broken Door Switch

Manufacturers build microwaves with protective measures in place. One of these fail-safes is that your microwave won’t heat if the door is open. But even if the door looks closed to you, your microwave components may think the door is open. This can happen if the door switch isn’t communicating with the other parts of the microwave properly.

One simple thing to check is that your door hooks are actually latching when your microwave closes. If they are not, it may be a simple matter of realigning the metal to get it back into place so that it can latch.

If the door seems to be latching, the next thing to check is that the door switch is providing a signal to the other components in your microwave. Unplug your microwave. Then, open the plate on the inside of the microwave door. Use a multi-meter to check that the switches have continuity. If they don’t, replacing the switch may fix your problem.

Testing for Leaking Radiation

Microwaves work by using vibrations to heat the food. They are a type of non-ionizing radiation. This means that they don’t carry the same risks as XRays, but there is radiation involved. Radiation leaks are rare, but if they happen with your microwave, you need to handle it. Leaking radiation is bad for your health. It also signals that there may be a significant issue with your microwave.

Use an electronic tester to see if your microwave is leaking radiation. Run the microwave with a small glass of water in it while you are testing to prevent further damage to your microwave. If you detect radiation when running your microwave, it’s not safe to use unless it gets repaired.

Microwave Not Heating: When to Call for Help

Microwaves are dangerous appliances to try to repair yourself. Some of the most common causes for your microwave not heating involve internal software. A faulty diode, a broken magnetron, broken transformers, or a defective control board can all cause your microwave to stop working. If you suspect any of these issues may be the culprit, you’ll need to call a certified appliance repair person.

Why shouldn’t you YouTube how to fix the problem yourself? Microwaves operate at extremely high voltages. They store this electricity even when they’re unplugged. This means that repairing the internal components of your microwave without knowing precisely what you’re doing could lead to shocks, burns, and even death.

When to Replace Your Microwave

Sometimes, you can’t fix your microwave, or the price of repairs is more than the cost of a new microwave. In general, microwaves are meant to last for about ten years. If you’ve had your microwave for ten years or longer, know that it’s getting towards the end of its lifespan. Even if you fix one component, another might die soon. Microwaves also lose heating capacity over time.

If your microwave is fewer than ten years old and you can repair it for less than the cost of a new microwave, you probably should. This can extend the life of your current microwave and reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your waste.

If you find you do need to replace your microwave, you’ll need to get rid of your current microwave. Check with your curbside recycling pickup to see if they’ll accept microwaves. If they won’t, see if any microwave repair companies near you would want to take your microwave to use it for its parts. If worst comes to worst, you can throw microwaves away: They’re not radioactive when they’re not running.

Personally repairing your appliances can be an excellent way to save money. Depending on what the issue is with your microwave, you may be able to take care of it yourself. However, it’s important to remember that safety is more important than saving a few dollars. While you can do basic microwave maintenance at home, more complicated repairs should be seen by a professional.

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