What Would Cause A Microwave To Stop Working?

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Gina Napsin
May 20, 2024
Home appliances
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Is your microwave broken, or does it look like your microwave is nearing its end? Are you wondering how long it should last? Then check out this article for answers to your microwave questions, things to look out for on your microwave, and some tips to extend its life.

The Life Expectancy Of Your Microwave

Your microwave can last long, depending on how you use it. Microwaves are versatile appliances used by 90% of US households, and it helps heat meals, defrost food, or use it on easy, microwavable meals. Generally, a typical microwave can last around seven years if used regularly, and using it a couple of times a day without proper cleaning can drastically lower that number. Now you are looking at a lifespan of four to five years for your microwave.

Things To Look Out For

If you have owned a microwave for years, you should check if it is still good and can still work correctly. Here are some signs to look closely for regarding your microwave.

Burning Smells, Smoke, Or Sparks

These problems are never a good sign for any appliance, especially a microwave. There is no point to continue using your microwave if it has malfunctions that produce these issues. Turn off the microwave immediately and disconnect it from the electricity main if you encounter one.
Most of the time, the cause of these problems is the magnetron. This is a crucial component in a microwave and is a significant part of its operation. It is time to shop for a new one if it breaks. Faulty wiring or improper use of a microwave can also cause these issues. However it is possible to repair microwaves, but it is not something you should do yourself. Repairs are not cheap, so getting a replacement is better.

Unresponsive Controls

Most modern microwaves have a touchpad or keypad for various settings. Unresponsive controls while you are readying to microwave your meals can be irritating. So before you throw out your microwave and look for a replacement, try cleaning it first. A good scrub using an old toothbrush can be just what it needs, as bits of food and gunk can stick in-between buttons.

Unusual Sounds

It is common to hear a microwave make a noise as you heat food, and it has that distinct buzz sound as it rotates and heats your meal. But if you notice some unusual noise from your microwave, it might be a telltale sign that your microwave is on its last legs.
Another cause of odd noises is a rattling sound from the turntable. Make sure the rotating ring is not loose and seated correctly for a simple fix. Also, remove any gunk that might get stuck underneath the turntable so it can move freely, or it will not heat your food evenly.

Poor Cooking Performance

We use microwaves for cooking food quickly. So if it does not cook well, there is no point in using it. If you need to up the setting so you can cook your meal, that is a clear sign that the unit is wearing out. If your microwave is still under warranty, you should have it checked out.

You can test your microwave's performance by heating a cup of water on the highest setting, and the water will be close to boiling after 2 minutes if it works poorly, time to look for a new one.

A Poor Door Seal

The door seal is essential to ensure that the food cooks evenly, not just for safety. It would be best to check your microwave's door seal to ensure no leaks or tears on it. If there is wear and tear on the door seal, then you should get the seal replaced or consider replacing the unit.

The Age Of Your Microwave

With proper care and usage, microwaves can go around for seven years, while some more high-end brands can last up to ten years. After that, it is mostly sure that it will have less performance and problems with efficiency. New units can also have better, more unique helpful features.

Tips For A Longer Microwave Life

We want to get the best out of our money, especially kitchen appliances. There are a few things that can help extend the lifespan of your microwave, so you do not have to spend on a new one.
  • Give It Space
Microwaves need adequate ventilation so they do not overheat. Make sure there is space around the air vents so the heat can get released from the microwave and cool it properly.
  • Moisture
Condensation in the air can build up on your microwave while you cook, and this could cause damage to the electrical components in the microwave.
  • Microwave-Safe Items
Do not just put anything in the microwave, especially metals. Be sure that the plates, glass, and bowls you use are microwave-safe and metal-free. Also, know how to safely microwave food to avoid accidents because your potato exploded inside.
  • Keep It Clean
This applies to any appliance, and microwaves are no exception. Clean it regularly with a lemon and water solution to remove any gunk and food debris. Food spills inside the microwave can damage the interior of the microwave.
  • Be Gentle
Avoid slamming the door and damaging the door seals. Be gentle, as it is a crucial part of the microwave that would need replacing if damaged. Slamming the door could weaken the hinges and seal, which would eventually create an unnecessary repair.
  • Never Run It Empty
Turning it on while empty can heavily damage your unit. The energy used in the microwave needs to go somewhere. So if nothing is there, it will go into its components, potentially damaging it and needing replacement.
  • DIY Fixes
Attempting to repair a microwave on your own could be dangerous. Microwaves are rather complicated and should be done by a professional, and you would do more harm than fixing your microwave yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

So before we conclude this article, here are some additional questions you might have about your microwave.
Should I replace my 20-year-old microwave?
Twenty years is quite a long time for a microwave, and it is rare to have one still working. If it still works, you can still keep using it and keep it clean. However, you should check it regularly for door seal leaks, short circuits, and malfunctions.
Can a damaged microwave harm you?
Modern microwaves have many safety standards to ensure microwave radiation is minimal. Also, microwave radiation is less harmful the further you are from the microwave. But even if you're right next to the microwave oven, your risk of injury is not that high. The amount of radiation is minuscule, and in more significant quantities, they can cause harm – but not from microwave appliances.
Do microwaves wear out?
Yes. The microwave will burn out after 2000 hours or so. The fuse could blow, or a defective magnetron or circuit can shut the microwave down. As your microwave ages, wear and tear could also appear on the door, handle, or control panel.
Are old microwaves safe?
So long as the microwave works without a hitch, it is safe to use. But if you notice any smoke or sparks, turn it off and unplug it immediately. Uneven heating is also a sign of a faulty microwave. Make sure that you clean your microwave regularly to avoid gunk from accumulating and potentially causing it to light up and smoke.
How to fix a microwave?
We recommend getting a professional to handle your microwaves since they are rather delicate and need expert knowledge to repair them.


The average lifespan of a microwave is just eight years. But we want it to last even longer. It can be a little tricky with constant use, but regular cleaning can help a long way to ensure it lasts long. In short, maintain your microwave correctly, and your microwave will keep looking after you!

I am sure this article has shown you some methods you can use to extend the lifespan of your microwave, and I hope that gives you a much clearer idea of the life expectancy of a microwave! Much will depend, of course, on how you use – and care – for the appliance. Be ready to start shopping around after eight years, depending on your circumstances.