Troubleshooting the Microwave: Potential Problems

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    Most everyone has a microwave in their home these days and we depend on them for many different things. But what do you do when your microwave goes on the fritz? How can you tell what is wrong with your microwave and how to fix it when it isn’t working properly? Nobody wants to pay a lot of money for a good microwave only to have problems with it later and have to spend a lot of money taking it to the repair shop. Some people don’t want to spend the expense of a repair so they just go and buy a new microwave, often purchasing a cheap one that only later has more problems. If you can learn some simple troubleshooting issues with your microwave, you may be able to save yourself a lot of time and money.

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Often there are simple problems that occur with your microwave that can be fixed without a lot of time or money and you can have your microwave oven working like new again. Here are some troubleshooting tips and guidelines to help you if you are having trouble with your microwave or you find that it is not working properly.
First it is important that you learn the proper safety precautions because repairing a microwave can be very dangerous. You should always be sure:

  1. The appliance is not plugged in
  2. You don’t touch any wiring or components until you discharge the high voltage capacitor
  3. Don’t work alone
  4. Remove watches and other jewelry

How to perform an RF leakage test
It may be needed for you to perform an RF leakage test. Most amateurs and even many professionals do not own an RF leakage meter. You can get one at appliance and electronic parts suppliers, costing from about $10.00 up to many hundreds of dollars for the certified models used at the professional level. You can find inexpensive RF detection devices at many retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Radio Shack.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
If your microwave does not work at all and you know everything is plugged in properly and the outlet is functioning, then check your fuses and your door switch. If the internal fuse or thermal fuse is blown you will need a professional to help you replace it. You should also check the door hooks and the door release button. If they are broken, your microwave will not work.
If your microwave looks and sounds normal but isn’t producing any heat, you should check the internal door switches, the high voltage circuitry and the circuit board for problems. You will need a certified technician to help you make these repairs.
If you are unable to adjust the power level, there may be a defective triac or a problem with the circuit board. If the carousel inside your microwave won’t turn when you run it, the small motor that operates it may be broken.
If the display flickers but it does not affect how the microwave heats, then you don’t need to worry about it. But if you are having display flickering and it is affecting the way your microwave operates, you may have a more serious problem in the microwave cabinet.
If your microwave buzzes loudly and produces no heat you probably have a defective power diode, magnetron or high voltage capacitor. These are all things that can be replaced or repaired by a qualified technician.
These are just a few common microwave problems that you may face and what the likely cause is. You will ultimately need to take your microwave to a qualified, certified repair shop to have it fixed if there is something seriously wrong with it that is causing it not to heat or function properly.

10 Responses to “Troubleshooting the Microwave: Potential Problems”

  1. jeff elms Says:

    JVM1653SHO1 Runs for 5 seconds then shuts down and asks me to reset time , date etc. continues to ask me this evertime I reset. This unit is a little over 1 year old. The problem is not in the troubleshooting section of the manual. I bought this unit a little over one year ago at home depot in Eugene ore a little over 1 year ago. My wife Sandra De Board paid for it. Serial # ZG901234B.

  2. appliancejournal Says:

    Jeff, I’m afraid it sounds like the power control module is bad. The new module retails for about $155, APP has it for $129: http://www.appliancepartspros.com/part_details.aspx?part_id=3183982

    I believe mfg warranty on this microwave is only one year, so I don’t think GE will pick up the tab on this one, but do check with them just in case. You can try replacing the module, or purchase a new microwave. Over the range microwaves start at about $280-$350 and can go up to $1000 depending on brand/features. Microwave installation is typically $35-$50.

    Hope this helps.

    AJ

  3. John Berry Says:

    I have a fairly new whirlpool microwave that runs find except it doesn’t heat. I took it to the repair shop and they said that it worked fine, He replaced a few things and I brought it home and it worked on a couple of items and I went to use it the next day and it ran but didn’t heat any suggestions Thanks John

  4. appliancejournal Says:

    John

    - What’s the microwave model number?
    - What was replaced at the repair shop? Check your receipt.

    AJ

  5. Cheryl Hibdon Says:

    I also have a GE JVM1653SHO1 which would shut down after about 5 seconds and I would have to reset everything. My problem is this unit sat in my garage for about 6 months before we had it installed. It quit on us after about 7 months, which was past the one-year warranty. Is the part something that we can order and install ourselves or do we need to pay for the part and labor to install it? This really stinks.

  6. appliancejournal Says:

    Cheryl, check out the appliance repair forum http://forum.appliancepartspros.com

  7. Sandra Barnett Says:

    I have a Whirlpool microwave. yesterday it started just coming on by itself when the door is closed. And if it won’t come on, I can push up on the door and it will. If I leave the door closed, it will at times, just come on by itself. Can you tell me what’s wrong? Thank you

  8. Rachael Herring Says:

    I have Whirlpool Gold microwave, Model GT4175SP that I purchased from Appliances Connection, June, 2012. Also, bought the trim kit for installing above wall oven, plus paid to have it installed. Total: $563.
    Knew was expensive, but expected it to last for at least 10yrs as other microwaves have always lasted much longer than that.
    Unfortunately, began smelling something burning. Double checked to be sure no food on surface or turntable. Kept smelling, more investigation showed the spindle looks charred and the part of the plastic turntable support is melted. Help?

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