Microwave ovens are gems on the kitchen counter. You can choose classic white, sexy black, or go crazy with a colour you know your mother would hate. It’s easy to take this gem, this friend that you don’t think about for granted. But there comes a day in every person’s life that they have to remember a time before microwaves. A time before you could heat up your cold tea in under a minute. You could defrost the stew you forgot to leave out this morning. You could par-boil those potatoes quickly before roasting them with the Sunday lunch. And then – it’s all gone. Suddenly the friend we have had for so many years no longer works and we have to revert back to what feels like caveman days.
It was the year 10 000 BC
All right, when your microwave is on the blink there isn’t actually any finger painting in caves or rubbing two sticks together for fire going on, but it really does feel like you are in a different timeline.
We don’t always realise it, but microwave ovens are a modern marvel. They use radio waves at frequencies that are specifically set to agitate water molecules. When these water molecules are agitated, they start to vibrate at an atomic level and this generates heat. And it is this heat that cooks or warms our food and drink.
Did someone say ATOMIC?!
When most people use the word ‘atomic’ they usually want to duck and cover. Fear not. A microwave that is in perfect working condition is easy and safe to use. However, if your microwave develops a fault, you do need to get it seen to ASAP. Any inspection and repair of the microwave requires specialised equipment and knowledge, but here are some general ‘faults’ that may be quick and easy to fix before calling the appliance technician.
Check list for faulty microwave ovens:
- Door not closed: The microwave will not heat up if the door is not tightly closed. If you have a slightly more advanced microwave model, the appliance may give a warning signal on the touch panel if the door hasn’t latched properly. Simply open the microwave door and close it again.
- Faulty power supply: As a basic check for any non-functioning electrical appliance, have an electrician check for an electrical circuit overload, a fuse in the appliance plug or fault in the microwave wiring. It is best to never open a microwave cover yourself unless you know your way around electrical circuits. If you suspect a fault in the power supply, call an engineer who specialises in kitchen appliances.
- Incorrect function settings: Refer to the instruction manual to check that you are using the correct cooking settings. In addition, check that the microwave defrost mode is not active.
- Turntable not working properly: If the microwave heats the food unevenly, there could be a problem with the turntable. Remove and clean the turntable ring. Ensure that the turntable is put back correctly.
It didn’t work!
If above troubleshooting steps didn’t resolve the whole “microwave not heating” situation, this means that there is a technical fault with the appliance. Here we come to the bit where the atomic part becomes important to note. So don’t do this at home. These are some other reasons your microwave could be on the blink, but these need to be handled by a professional!
- The heating element in the microwave is not working.
- There is a fault in the magnetron fuse. Some microwaves have a separate fuse for the magnetron and the light, fan, turntable and electronics.
- Components associated with the magnetron are faulty.
- There is a fault in the turntable motor.
- The internal safety device of the microwave is faulty.
Some of these further technical repairs can be expensive, and should be performed by a qualified professional.
Depending on the cost estimate and the age and model of the microwave, it may be cheaper to buy a new microwave than to have the existing one repaired. It may be time to upgrade from classic white to chic metallic silver or even an adventurously funky lime green.