17 Common Microwave Problems and How You Can Fix Them

Before I purchased my current microwave oven, I spent a few days researching the problem. I read blog articles, watched YouTube videos, and read the owners manual. I attempted all of the suggested solutions, and while the solutions worked briefly, it was not a total fix. 

In this blog post, I’ve compiled a list of 18 of the most common microwave problems I came across while I was researching my solution. These problems are compiled from owners manuals, YouTube videos, and Mr. Fix It type websites. In addition, I’ve added the solutions for each problem.

Before attempting any of these solutions, I recommend consulting with a professional and/ or reading the owners manual. This post is designed to discuss possible outcomes, and should not be taken as advice or recommendations. Every microwave is different, and your experience may vary than the descriptions I’ve experienced. 

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1. Microwave Oven Not Turning On

Problem: Microwave oven does not turn on can mean a few different things. First, is the display blank (no time, timer). Second, if you have a display, does the microwave not run when you push start? Third, are you able to set a time prior to pushing start?

The good news is this can be a relatively east fix. 

Solution: Because there are a few difference possibilities, there is a checklist of places we need to check when troubling shooting your microwave.

The first thing you should do it make sure that your microwave is plugged in. I recommend removing the microwave cord from the outlet, inspecting the outlet, then putting the cord back into the outlet. When inspecting the cord, you are looking for exposed, chewed, or damaged wires. If you now have a display, then you are done. If not, continue on.

The second thing you should check is your circuit breaker. If the microwave was unplugged, then plugged back in to the wall outlet and you still do not have power, go to your circuit breaker and see if any have been “popped”. 

A popped (tripped) circuit breaker just means that the circuit was changed from on to off. A circuit breaker pops due to an overflow of current. This is a safety measure that is required in all homes and apartments. 

To check if a circuit breaker has been popped, go to where your circuit breakers are housed and see if any have been switched to off. If there is one that is switched to off, check the blueprint that is next to the breakers. If the number next to the off breaker is referencing the microwave or kitchen, this could be your problem. A tripped circuit breaker is a symptom of a larger problem that will be discussed later in this section.

If it isn’t the wall outlet or the circuit breaker, then check the door and door hinge. Is the door or door hinge free of food and other debris? Is the microwave door able to latch easily into the microwave frame? Clean the door, door hinge, and where the door connects to the microwave frame. 

To test each of these possible solutions, place a microwave safe glass in the microwave and cook for one minute. If the water is hot, or the microwave turns on, you have fixed your issue.

2. Keypad Buttons Not/ Partially Working

Problem: Some or all of the buttons on the microwave keypad have stopped working. It may begin with a few buttons but over time, it increases to all. 

Solution: There are one of two reasons why the keypad has stopped working. Reason 1: the keypad is too dirty to use. Food and/ or other dirty has gotten in and around the microwaves buttons, rendering them unusable. To resolve this issue, clean your microwave keypad with warm, soapy, water. Be sure to use a nonabrasive cleaning agent and cloth when cleaning. Gently clean the keypad until your buttons become functional. 

Note: Unplug your microwave before cleaning the keypad. Failure to do so can result in turning the microwave on and off unnecessarily. 

The second solution is the connector between the keypad and the control board has become loose and needs to be reconnected. In many microwaves of a certain brand, the connector that connects the keypad and the control board is a tiny, thin strip that is not secured in place. This connector becomes loose because of the pressing of the keypad, and the pushing and pulling of the microwave door handle. 

Before getting started, unplug your microwave from the wall outlet. Because we are working with electrical components, there is a chance of electrical shock. To prevent shock, disconnect the microwave. 

To fix this issue, you will need to push the connector back into the keypad. The steps will vary based on the brand, microwave type, and location, but you will need to unscrew vents, door hinges, and the keypad.

Once you unscrew the above, there will be a few additional wires, the connector you are looking for looks like a very thin piece of tape called filament tape. In most cases, there is a think bracket that is supposed to hold the tape in place. Lift that bracket up, remove the connector, then push it back in. 

Reconnect any wires that you’ve disconnected and reconnect your keypad to the microwave. Plug the microwave back into the wall outlet and test the keypad. If your buttons now work, then the issue us resolved, if not, you may need to disconnect the keypad and push the connector in deeper. 

3. Microwave Not Cooking Food/ Food Not Done

Problem: The problem is that food is taking longer to cook than expected, or food is not cooking at all. 

Solution: The solution is one of 8 microwave parts that have gone bad. Before scheduling a repairman, check and see if the cook time improves by adding space between your food. Often microwaved food can take longer if all of the food is piled on the late in one big lump.

If the first trip did not work, it may be one of the following:

  • Diode – converts A/C to D/C
  • Door switch – Notifies the rest of the microwave that cooking can occur
  • Magnetron – Uses the D/C current to make microwaves. Microwaves cook your food
  • High voltage capacitor – Along with the diode, converts A/C to D/C
  • High voltage transformer – helps converts volts to power the magnetro
  • Thermal Fuse – monitors the microwave for overheating
  • Thermoprotector – Also monitors the microwave for overheating. The Thermoprotector will prevent the microwave from starting  
  • Main control board – This is the brains of the microwave. controls everything from cooking time to cooking power and turntable rotation. 

For your safety, only trained professionals should handle these components as well as troubleshooting and replacement. These components contain and transfer a deadly amount of electricity, and should only be handeled by professionals

4. Microwave Sparks/ Arcs while Cooking

Problem: While the microwave is on, the microwave arcs or sparks

Solution: There are a few different solutions to this problem including:

  • Dirty microwave
  • High voltage transformer
  • Using aluminum or another type of metal
  • Waveguide cover
  • Paint
  • Metal rack

Dirty microwave: Believe it or not, but soil build up on cavity walls, inlet covers or vents can result in arcing. Make sure your microwave is cleaned a minimum of once per week to prevent this from occurring.

High voltage transformer: If the high voltage transformer stops working, it can result in arcing and a burning smell.

Aluminum or other metals: Using aluminum in a microwave is a highly discussed topic, but the truth is, you can use aluminum in a microwave as long as there are no exposed sharp edges. It’s best just to use a plate cover or napkin when cooking food in the microwave. 

Metals should not be used in a microwave. They will cause arcs. Find a different type of cookware to use. 

Waveguide cover: remove this cover and inspect for damage. Also, attempt to cook a glass of water, if no arcing, replace the waveguide cover with a new one. 

Paint: The paint from the cavity of your microwave maybe chipping. Inspect your microwave for paint that has fallen to the bottom of the microwave or chips in the cavity

Rack: There can be a few different problems with the rack support. First, make sure the rack isn’t touching anything inside the microwave. Second, ensure there is no chipping on the metal rack.

5. Microwaved Food Dried Out

Problem: The microwaved food is consistently dried out to the point where it is un-edible. 

Solution: The quick solution is to add water to your food. Microwaves use water to cook, and the lack of water results in lack of quality food. Another option is to reduce the power level. Most microwaves have multiple power levels that can be used to cook food. Another option is to reduce the time, stir, and continue to cook your food. 

6. Microwave Starts Then Stops

Problem: You place you food in the microwave, press start, the microwave begins, then ends. 

Solution: There are a few possibilities for this problem, these problems include:

  • Door switch
  • Main control board
  • Keypad and control panel
  • High voltage transformer
  • Thermoprotector
  • Thermostat

Here is a quick look at each solution

Door switch: Test the door switches looking for burning, overheating, or arching. Replace if needed. 

Main control board: difficult to diagnose, should be the last thing you test. If every other part works fine, you may need to replace this part.

Keypad and control panel: The keypad may be shorting, or sending additional messages to the control board. If buttons pushed on the keypad are responding incorrectly, the keypad needs to be replaced.

High voltage transformer: If the microwave arcs, smokes, then stop, it is possible that the transformer must be replaced.

Thermoprotector & Thermostat: This part will shut down the microwave if it senses overheating. This is a symptom of a larger problem

7. Turntable Does Not Spin

Problem: You expect the turntable to spin while the microwave is in use, but it doesn’t

Solution: first, ensure there is nothing obstructing the turntable ring. Second, make sure the glass table is set in a proper position. Next, make sure the turntable is set to “on.” Finally, if the previous three are working as expected, the turntable motor may need repair/ replacement. 

8. Light Bulb Does Not Turn On

Problem: The internal microwave does not turn on when the microwave door opens

Solution: The first, and most obvious solution is to attempt to change the lightbulb. If the new lightbulb does not turn on, it may be the main control board or light socket. 

First, check the light socket for damage. Next, check the socket for continuity, if there is no continuity, replace the socket. If there is continuity then consider replacing the main control board. 

9. Fan Starts When the Door Opens, Stops When It Closes

Problem: The microwave’s fan starts when the door opens, stops when the user closes, working in reverse than it should

Solution: The door switch is the most probable solution for this type of issue. You may need a voltage meter to test the door switch(es).

10. Microwave/ House Smells After Cooking

Problem: The microwave smells like food that was just cooked, or smells like the meal from last week

Solution: There are two solutions for this problem. First, try cleaning the cavity of your microwave. Clean with hot, soapy, water, then observe the results. If cleaning the microwave does not resolve the issue, consider replacing the included filter. The placement of your filter will vary based on brand, make, and model of your microwave. 

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11. The Microwave Smokes While Cooking

Problem: You can see or smell smoke while the microwave is cooking

Solution: This could be a few different issues including arcing, empty microwave, or a nonfunctioning High voltage transformer. It’s also possible that a part inside of the microwave is generating the smoke. I recommend unplugging the microwave, and contacting a professional. 

12. Fuses Keep Blowing

Problem: This is two problems rolled into one: the microwave fuse has blown and/ or the house fuse has blown.

Solution: A blown microwave fuse means something has gone bad inside the microwave. I would recommend that you disconnect the microwave and contact a professional. A blown house fuse requires more investigation. Ask the following questions: when did it happen? What other outlets were in use when the fuse blew?

13. Microwave Starts On It’s Own

Problem: After closing the microwave door, the microwave starts.

Solution: There could be a few issues that cause a microwave to turn on by itself. When I was attempting to repaid by keypad connector my microwave would turn on when I closed the door because the door still had a number of parts removed. Another possibility is that the main control board is damaged. 

14. Microwave is too Loud

Problem: You start the microwave and the noise is much louder than usual

Solution: The cause of a loud microwave could be the magnetron, exhaust fan motor, stirrer motor, or turntable motor. The magnetron will need to be replaced if you hear high tones or growling sounds. Consult with a professional before attempting to replace the magnetron.

In addition to the noise, the turntable motor may be defective if the turntable is moving slower than usual or not turning at all. If the noise sounds more like grinding, it may be the stirrer or exhaust fan motor.

15. Microwave Door Won’t Open

Problem: You want to cook some popcorn but the microwave either won’t open, or is very difficult to open.

Solution: The problem is in one the following areas:

  • Open lever
  • Door spring
  • Door latch
  • Door hook
  • Button spring
  • Button
  • Handle actuator

Each of these can be testes for failure. simply push the button, lift the handle, etc to see where the error occurs. Finally, fix as needed. Note: these products may come in kits and not sold individually. It may be best to replace the entire kit. 

16. Does My Microwave Leak

Problem: You may have concerns that the microwave is leaking radio active waves impacting your family and friends.

Solution: The only solution is to purchase a leakage detector. In addition to the detector, you will need a glass of water and your microwave. Follow the directions that are included with the leakage detector, but your will need to test while the microwave is running. 

17. Phone/ TV Buzzes When Microwave Is In Use

Problem: your phone/ tv/ or radio is experiencing interference while the microwave is in use. 

Solution: First, consider moving the tv, phone, or radio further away from the microwave. If you have a mobile microwave, consider moving that away from the other products. 

Another solution is to ensure that the microwave is clean and free of soil. additional soil in the microwave cavity can generate unexpected disruption for your microwave and TV. 

The final option is to change the radio frequency of your tv, radio, or phone. Microwaves use a 2.4 gigahertz frequency that may interfere with some phones, radios, or TVs. 


Through my research, I’ve learned that there are just a handful of parts that can cause a microwave to break down. The microwave will fall apart if you have an issue with your magnetron, keypad, door switch or main control board. If your microwave is smoking or making a noise, it may be your magnetron or a part that uses the magnetron. Is your microwave fan on or your microwave running? It could be the door switch or main control board. 

What problems have you had with your microwave? Were any of your microwave problems on this list? Did I miss any?

Comment below! 

Additional Questions

Does a Microwave Have a Reset Button?

Most microwave ovens do not include a reset button. However, you can reset your microwave in one of two ways. The most common way of reseting your microwave is called a hard reset. A hard reset happens when you physically unplug the microwaves’ cord from the wall outlet. A hard rest will erase all saved settings including time, date, and cooking settings.

Before conducting a hard reset, make sure there is nothing obstructing the microwave cord and wall outlet. If there us anything in the way it may prevent power from reaching the microwave, or even worse, there could be a spark and/ or fire.

The second type of reset is called a soft reset. The purpose of a soft reset is to erase recently programmed settings or to escape a programming process. Soft resets vary from microwave to microwave, so it is important that you review your microwaves’ owners manual. 

Can Microwaves Be Repaired? 

Yes, microwaves can be repaired. However, the cost to repair a part varies depending on your location, the part that needs to be replaced, and the age of your microwave.

The location is based on the cost of living as well as the distance the repairman may need to travel. The magnetron is the most important and expensive part of the microwave. Also, it may cost more if the motherboard needs to be replaced.

Finally, if your microwave is older, it may have more parts widely available. If your microwave features newer technology or is highly specialized, you can expect to pay more to have it repaired.

Also, consider the amount that you paid for your current microwave as it may be cheaper to purchase a new one instead of repairing a used one. For more information on repairing a microwave, check out this article Can Microwave Ovens Be Repaired?

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Magnetron In A Microwave?

This depends on the make, model, and brand of your microwave, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $60 – $1000 to replace a magnetron. This wide range is based on a number of factors including the part, location, and age of the microwave.

The cost to replace the magnetron itself begins at $30. This range is based on the microwave brand, microwave type, and the wattage. Be sure to check your manufacturers’ website or owners manual for the part number.

Pro tip: Once you know the correct part number, check with the local junkyards to see if they have the same product. Buying from the junkyard will save you money and you won’t have to wait for the part to be delivered.

How Long Should A Microwave Last?

On average, a microwave will last 9.5 years. This average will vary based on usage, environment, brand, and how will you keep it clean. The more you use your microwave, the shorter the lifespan. In addition, if your microwave is constantly being pushed and pulled, you can expect the lifespan to be shortened. 

For a more detailed overview of the lifespan of a microwave, click here.

How Can I Test My Microwave Oven?

The best way to make sure there is no leakage from your microwave is to either hire a professional or purchase a leakage detector. A leakage detector detects the amount of radiation that is emitting from your microwave. Below is the process to test for leakage.

  • Place a large glass of water in your microwave
  • Cook glass for 1 minute using full power
  • Point the detector around the vents, door and door seal while the microwave is running
  • If your leakage level exceeds 5 mW/cm^2 as a distance of 50 millimeter you have leakage.