How to get the most life out of your microwave oven



Microwave ovens are almost ubiquitous in the U.S. because of their short cooking times and convenience. Doing repair work on the electrical parts of your microwave is inadvisable – their complexity and high energy use mean that it is dangerous for an amateur to work with them – but there are some things you should keep in mind to get the most life out of your appliance. A TotalProtect® Home Warranty can help to ensure that your microwave is there for you when you need it for years to come.

Clean the interior
Over time, splashes of liquid and tiny bits of food inevitably get left behind in your microwave. This can cause the unit to smell bad, but even worse, it can eventually damage the appliance's interior. The electromagnetic waves that your microwave oven uses to heat food will increase the temperature of anything containing water, including these bits of leftover food. This diminishes the efficiency of your appliance and can cause burns to the unit's interior overtime. Be sure to regularly clean your microwave to keep it healthy and smelling fresh.

Close the door gently
It is important not to slam your microwave door, and not just because your mother said so! There are usually three switches in the door mechanism of your appliance, and these need to be closed in a particular order. A slammed door can potentially cause them to close in a different order, which may result in a blown fuse internally.

Avoid heating water by itself
While it may seem like the microwave is the perfect way to heat water, there is a potentially dangerous condition called "superheating" that makes this inadvisable. Microwave ovens are tuned to frequency of the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen in water, causing them to vibrate rapidly – this is what causes things to heat up. A still glass of water in a microwave, especially one that doesn't include a spinning platter, can reach temperatures far higher than the boiling point of water without appearing to boil. As soon as the glass is touched, however, the water will suddenly and violently boil. This won't harm your microwave, but it can cause burns to anyone in range.

Don't run an empty microwave
In addition to avoiding plain water in the microwave, it is important never to run an empty microwave. Whether by mistake or to use the timing function of a microwave, many people will run an empty microwave and damage their appliance. According to Repair Clinic, the reason for this is that microwave energy has nowhere to go in an empty microwave. Instead, the electromagnetic waves bounce around inside and can cause the device's magnetron to overheat. The result is an extremely expensive repair bill.

Make sure it's microwave safe
There are two important reasons to ensure that everything you put into your appliance is microwave safe. First, there is the heating problem. Many glass and plastic products are not microwave safe in that they can be heated by the electromagnetic waves that your unit uses to cook your food. This can make plastic melt and glass become extremely hot. Neither is a good outcome. If you ever take a glass or plate out of a microwave and feel that it is hotter than it should be, it is probably not microwave safe. The second problem is reflection. Dishes with metal parts – especially gold, silver or aluminum – can reflect microwave energy in unexpected directions. Frequently, this can cause your microwave to overheat and break.

Other considerations
In order to be sure that your microwave oven lasts as long as it possibly can, there are a few other small things to consider. To avoid potential damage from electrical surges, it is best to plug your microwave into a surge protector. The built-in fuse in the surge protector will trigger in the event of a power fluctuation, saving your appliance. It is also best to use preset cooking times, as these allow the microwave to operate at maximum efficiency. Finally, remember to keep up with the parts that you can maintain, like the light bulb, charcoal filter, turntable and exterior paint.

Microwaves are fantastic appliances that bring a lot of convenience into our lives. In order to keep yours working for years to come, it is worth taking the time to properly use and care for this appliance. If you are concerned about the potential cost of repairing or replacing a home system or kitchen appliance, consider purchasing a TotalProtect Home Warranty.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.