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How Do You Know When Your Microwave Needs Repair or Replacement?

A microwave oven is arguably the most convenient appliance in today’s modern kitchen. Whether preparing side dishes, quickly reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen meat, or cooking complete microwave meals, we’ve come to really depend on them.

So what should you do when your microwave starts to malfunction? Do you call a microwave repair technician? Or do you toss it out and shop for a replacement? The answer generally depends on the repairs that are needed and the age of your unit. Certainly, you don’t want to spend more on a repair than the cost of a new microwave. Then again, why discard a perfectly good appliance if the problem with it requires a simple, inexpensive fix? Below is a list of problems that are commonly encountered with microwave ovens and whether they warrant calling a microwave repair technician–or calling it quits.

The interior light in your microwave no longer works

Not sure how long you should heat up yesterday’s takeout? The interior light is a nice feature that allows you to peek inside to see how the reheat is going. If the light is burned out, however….

Sometimes a non-functioning interior light is a straightforward problem with an easy fix. It could be due to a bulb that is not screwed in tightly. It could be a bulb that has burned out. In each case, it may simply require removing the casing, and possibly the coverplate over it if there is one and tightening or replacing the bulb. However, it could also be caused by faulty switches in your microwave oven’s door latches or even a faulty circuit board. A qualified microwave repair technician can evaluate the problem, provide you with a repair quote, or make other recommendations.

Your microwave turntable stops turning

Have you ever plunged your fork into a microwaved meal only to find one bite hot and tasty while the next is cold and under cooked? It’s the turntable’s job in a microwave oven to rotate food in the oven’s cooking chamber so that heat is evenly distributed and food evenly cooked. That’s why if your turntable stops working, you may experience more of those unpleasant meals.

But that doesn’t mean you should toss your microwave oven out, especially if it’s less than five years old. First check the obvious. Is there anything under the roller guide or tray support that is blocking the tray’s movement? If not, then you may have a defective or burned-out motor. Or, you could have a bad belt or door switch. Or, it could just as easily be that the coupler that attaches to the drive motor shaft is broken or stripped.

Here again, a qualified microwave repair technician can evaluate the problem with your turntable motor and make the necessary repairs. The technician may also find that your microwave has simply aged to the point that it is no longer able to distribute electromagnetic waves properly. In that case, they may recommend purchasing a replacement.

And while we’re on the subject of turntables, be aware that heat will damage them over time. If your turntable becomes chipped or cracked, be sure to replace it right away. Standard replacements can often be found in local supermarkets, retail outlets or online.

Your microwave makes loud noises, or emits smoke or sparks

When you’ve had your microwave oven for a while, you know the kind of ordinary hum it makes when in operation. If the sounds of your microwave start to change significantly, moving from a whir or hum to loud buzzing or rattling, this can be an indication of a serious problem.

You should have even more cause for alarm if your microwave begins emitting smoke or sparks, or if smells like it is burning. In any of these cases, unplug your appliance immediately and open your kitchen windows to safely air the room out.

Most microwave ovens have a lifespan of about eight to ten years, and serious problems such as these are clear signals that your microwave has reached its life’s limit and should be replaced. If you experience these problems with a younger appliance, however, be sure to check your warranty. You may be entitled to a free replacement. A seasoned microwave repair technician should be able to make a good recommendation on the best brands or models to purchase.

One Final Note

As with any appliance, it’s important to weigh the microwave repair estimate along with the unit’s given age against the price of a replacement. It’s equally important that you not endeavor to take on any serious repairs yourself unless you are confident you have the necessarily skills to do the job.

A reputable microwave repair technician should be able to investigate and determine whatever the problem is with your appliance and provide you with solid workmanship and expert advice.

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