When To Repair Or Replace Your Broken Microwave
Microwaves are super useful little gadgets, but they’re also prone to failure – especially if they’re a leftover tool from your home’s last resident. While there are certain parts of a microwave that are surprisingly easy to fix, even for the mechanically disinclined, there is a point that you need to just discard your broken microwave.
Easy fixes for a microwave include buffing scratches and aesthetic damage, replacing busted or old parts, or, worst case – hiring a professional to assess the situation for you. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to repair an old microwave.
This guide will walk you through how to make minor repairs, when to replace the thing, and how to properly dispose of your old microwave. Keep reading to learn everything you could ever want to learn about microwaves.
My Microwave is Broken: What Now?
Depending on the problem you’re having with the microwave, you’ll need to do a few different things. But as with all electronics, the first step is to unplug it and examine the machine. If you already know what the problem is and it’s not electrical, you can ignore this first step. Otherwise – cut power and check that sucker out.
This is important because your microwave’s capacitor holds a surprisingly large charge, even after being disconnected from power. If you’re going to be screwing with anything that could carry a charge, you’ll always want to properly discharge it before continuing. No matter how experienced you think you are, electrocution doesn’t discriminate – so listen to me.
Assessing the Problem
First things first, you need to figure out the problem. There are two main issues that you’ll find with a broken microwave – electric or mechanical/aesthetic. The former is rather complicated (generally), while the latter is almost always pretty simple.
To assess your microwave, take a look at it. Is there anything that’s cracked or dented? Did it still run before you unplugged it? Where is your microwave located? These are all important questions that will inform upon whether you should repair or replace.
While it’ll look less than ideal, a microwave whose only damage is aesthetic is entirely fine to leave. Things like broken feet, a slightly cracked door, or dents aren’t a big deal unless you’ve noticed other issues since they popped up. Considering microwaves can get expensive, it’s often best to weigh the costs before simply tossing them out and replacing them.
If it’s scratched, you can shine and polish those suckers out. A broken foot or stand can be easily replaced or jerry-rigged with something beneath the broken microwave. And a broken door is entirely non-electric and generally rather easy to replace. And a broken… spinny thing (I swear that’s the technical term) is easy to replace if it breaks – same for the glass dish. Don’t throw out a perfectly good microwave if you can avoid it!
If your microwave’s door is broken, simply order a replacement. Then all that’s left is to open the housing of the microwave, remove the door (usually held in place by a few screws on the hinges), and replace the door. Easy as that!
Remember when I asked where the broken microwave is located? This is important because over-range microwaves (those hanging over your stovetop) can actually be more cost-effective to repair than replace. This is because the trim that surrounds your microwave is generally tailored to that specific model. If you replace it with a new one, you’ll need to replace all of the trim and potentially rearrange your cabinets if the new one doesn’t fit.
Unless there’s a serious issue that you either can’t replace or that a repair tech has quoted a massive number for, you’re generally better off trying to do the repair. It will be more expensive than a usual repair because it needs to be taken down and then remounted when repaired – so don’t be surprised by the cost. But I’ll guarantee that you don’t want to pay the price of your new microwave to get trim for the new one.
When to Replace Your Broken Microwave
Now this is the hard part – knowing when to cut your losses. There are some points that it’s better to call it a day and replace your microwave – especially if it’s a cheap little sucker. Check out our article here on the best combination microwaves to replace your old one!
Low-Cost Broken Microwave
If the cost of repairs is equal to that of your cheap microwave, consider replacing the thing. It’s always good to do your research before calling a professional. If the broken part costs £300, while the broken microwave was only £200, you do the math – it’s time to buy a new one. This is made especially true if the microwave in question is extremely old and behind on technology.
Old Broken Microwave
If your microwave is ancient, I have some bad news. It’s time to let it retire to… wherever old microwaves go when they grow old and yearn for retirement. If you have a dial, push-open, or the microwave is as old as you, it’s time for a replacement. Electronics are expensive, and I understand the sentiment, but just trust me here – you’ll appreciate the update.
Damaged Magnetron or Control Panel
Now, these are the truly expensive fixes that nobody wants to see. The control panel is the most complicated part of any microwave due to its circuit board and wiring. Rather than replacing a single, simple part, you’re looking at something closer to a computer repair. That means that it’ll be expensive, time-consuming, and will cost a lot to hire a repairman to fix.
On the same note, the magnetron is the actual heart of your microwave. It’s what actually heats up your food – and when it fails, the whole machine is essentially dead. These don’t go out lightly, so if your magnetron is making unnecessary noise or is just not working, that’s a sign from the microwave gods. Not only will it cost an arm and a leg to repair, but other parts will likely start to fail as well.
Recycling and Disposal of a Broken Microwave
If you find yourself needing to get a new microwave, please, please, please – don’t just throw it in the landfill. Not only will it sit there for the rest of your life and that of your children, but it will be useless. Look around your local area and I can guarantee you’ll find someone who will take and recycle it. Sometimes it’s an electronics store, sometimes it’s a nonprofit, other times your local dump will do it for you!
Microwaves are awesome when they work, and a pain when they break. If you find yourself with a broken microwave, do your research. Figure out what’s wrong and assess whether it’s time for a new one. If the repairs will cost more than the new microwave, it’s simply not worth it to try and resuscitate the dead one. And when you do decide to upgrade – recycle, don’t dump.