8 Things to extend the life of your microwave.
These things also significantly reduce the chances of
having to call your appliance repair service. These can all be summed up by stating that “using
microwave safe containers with lids when cooking or heating food or drink only “is the proper use of the
microwave. However, with our busy schedule and social media hacks, we can achieve unintended
consequences. Improper use can be unhealthy, unsafe of expensive. Following these tips can avoid the
time and expense of a microwave repair call.
- Contamination is the number one cause of reduced life of a microwave and its components. ALL
of your food should stay in the bowl or container. Anything leaving the container can cause
sparking or arcing as the microwaves act on it. This reduces the life of the unit and components.
Cover all food, is the number on rule. We use a lid on our microwave safe dishes if possible. We
also have a microwave food cover that fits a plate for heating a piece of pizza or other items that
we pop in for quick heat up. The covers catch all of the splatters to minimize cleaning. Deep
clean the microwave cavity periodically. Even with covering the food, pieces of food from spills
and splatters appear. This food vaporizes over time and are causes of the sparking and arcing.
Take the tray and roller assembly out for cleaning. Clean the walls, top and bottom of the unit
thoroughly. Use a mild soap and water to remove all particles and grease.
- Aluminum foil or foil lined paper will cause arcing and cause fire. Here in the south we have
Sonic drive in restaurants that wrap burgers and food in foil lined wrappers. I have had
customers put the wrapped burgers in the microwave to heat and walk away. This resulted in a
fire inside the cavity.
- Any metal in the microwave can cause arcing. Cans, pans, pots are not to be used as heating
containers. Even the metal racks of the microwave or turn table system can not touch the sides
of the cavity. Sparking can occur when metal touches the side. Sparking on the side of the
microwave can damage the cavity significantly and can cause the unit to be scrapped as the
cavity is not a replaceable part. This would result in a microwave replacement, not a microwave
- Metal travel mugs or glasses that have metal outsides or liners should not be used in the
microwave. Simply heat your coffee or tea in a microwave safe ceramic cup or mug and then
pour into your travel container.
- Oriental carryout containers that have the little metal handles are included in the no metal
category. These can cause burning of the food or container and start a fire.
- Wet clothes. You should put all wet or damp clothes, ball caps and cloth items in the clothes
dryer. Do not use the microwave.
- Nothing in the microwave while running the heat cycle will cause the energy of the microwave
waves to destroy the magnetron. There needs to be food, drink or water in the unit to absorb
the energy. On one service call the customer complaint was “microwave not heating”.
Discussion with the customer revealed that grandma had moved in with the family three
months earlier. Grandma used the heat cycle as her cooking timer. I replaced the magnetron
and gave the customer instructions on operating the timer cycle. About 5 months later, I
returned to the same house. Same customer complaint. Same repair. Grandma must have
gotten the message after the second visit. No more calls for microwave repair. An expensive
lesson on timer use.
- This is not for about what you cook in the microwave. This is about how the microwave is
installed. Even when professionals install microwaves in new construction there can be
problems. When installing microwaves in an enclosed cabinet, all of the ducting supplied for the
unit to blow out hot air from the microwave must me installed. The electronics on the
magnetron circuit will overheat unless it is ventilated with fresh air. This will cause premature
failures. Diets where using the microwave on foods with long cooking cycles (15+ minutes)
makes this problem more evident. Repairing the microwave without correcting the ducting
problem will cause the repair to be short lived also.