December 6

How Long Should a Microwave Last? | Best Practices for A Long Lasting Microwave


Author: Ana Stanar and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

A microwave is a necessary helping hand in the kitchen. And when you buy one, you want it to last the longest time possible. Sadly, like all appliances, it must retire at some point. Then, you may need to replace it.

Are you interested in knowing the signs of a failing unit, or how long should a microwave last?

The good news is that you can make your microwave unit last long. Do you want to know how?

In this article, you will learn about the best practices to ensure your microwave lasts long. Also, know when it is appropriate to replace your unit.

Woman by the microwave

How Long Should a Microwave Last-How Long Should You Keep a Microwave Before Replacing it?

The average life expectancy of a microwave oven is about ten years. Some brands and models such as convectional microwave ovens may do more than ten years. This period is, however, dependent on maintenance and workload on the microwave. Poor maintenance and heavy use will wear out a microwave fast.

After you have used your microwave for ten years, you might have to repair or replace it, depending on factors. Keep reading to learn more on this.

What Are the Signs That a Microwave Is Going Bad?

A microwave will not last forever.  At some time, its efficiency, even with high-powered microwaves, starts decreasing. What are some of the common signs that your microwave is failing? 

Ten Years of Use

The average lifespan of a standard microwave is ten years. If ten years have elapsed since you started using your unit, it is time you consider replacing it with an energy-efficient one.

Irregular Cooking Times

When you embed food items inside the microwave, they heat up abnormally fast or slow; that's a sign your unit is going bad. For instance, if your coffee gets piping hot after seconds, you need to get worried.

Smoke or Electronics Burning Smell

When you observe electronics burning smell or smoke in your unit, do not hesitate; stop the cooking process and unplug the power supply immediately. These signs show that your microwave is failing and you need to replace it. 

Microwave burning

Abnormal Sounds While Cooking

A microwave should be relatively quiet when cooking food.  If yours is making an abnormal rattling, buzzing, or grinding noise, the microwave could be failing. However, inspect the fan blades and the turntable before you declare the microwave damaged. If the two are in order, then it is time you get a new microwave.

Nevertheless,  It is common for some food items to spark. Do not be alarmed by the usual sparking of certain food items like grapes in the microwave oven.

Unresponsive Keypad

The microwave's keypad is what you use to command the microwave anytime you are using it. Most likely, it will wear out. The keys may stick, making the unit responsive. The microwave may start commanding itself spontaneously or display a SE error code. When you such signals, it's best to call in microwave repair services because that's a clear signal it's failing.

No Heating

A microwave oven that is not heating is a sign of failing. Lack of heating is attributed to the failure of the magnetron, and such failure renders the unit useless.

The Door Does Not Seal Properly.

The door is essential in protecting you from microwave radiation leakage. It should seal completely. If the door's spring, protective mesh, or latch is spoiled, the microwave could be aging. A broken or cracked microwave door is also a risk.

Opening a microwave door with the handle

Sudden Stops While Running

If your microwave stops running spontaneously, it could be that the power switch buttons are malfunctioning or even the main power supply to the microwave is damaged.

Formation of Rust

If your microwave forms rust either on the inside or outside, then it's getting old. Rusting is dangerous: if it's on the inside, it could mix up with food and make it harmful. If it's on the outside, it could lead to the formation of holes through which microwave radiation leaks.

Is it Worth Fixing a Microwave?

To determine whether your microwave is worth repairing, you need to consider at least three factors:

  • Age of the microwave
  • Cost of the repair
  • Damaged part(s)

The life expectancy of a microwave is ten years. If your microwave is ten years and failing, it would be best if you just replaced it with a new one. Also, if the unit is new and the repair costs are lower than the buying price, it's worth fixing (see microwave ovens under 200 dollars).

Repairing a microwave

It makes sense to repair high-end microwaves like electric ranges in contrast to cheaper microwave ovens like over-the-range appliances. Basic microwave models go for as little as $60, more or the same as a new microwave of similar quality. Thus, repairing high-end microwaves is economical.

You may consider repairing your microwave if it has the following problems:

Consider replacing your unit if it has the following issues:

  • Unusual cooking times
  • Abnormal noises while cooking
  • Emitting smoke or electronic burning smell

Take note that if repair accessories are unavailable, you have no choice but to get a new appliance (see new retro-designed ovens).

Do Microwaves Wear Out Over Time?

Microwave ovens wear out with time; they diminish power (see 900 watt ovens) and efficiency, just like all kitchen appliances. Microwaves determination is gradual and almost unnoticeable.

The magnetron part of a microwave oven weakens with time. It is a high-voltage system that utilizes electrical and magnetic fields responsible for the waves that heat food. The magnetron is the source of power and energy for the microwave (see more about it here).

If you observe that your microwave's door seal does not close completely, it's a sign the microwave is wearing out. Microwaves have a unique feature that makes them not function when the door is open which is meant to protect you from dangerous radiation (see also what happens when oven turns on as a result of false reading). 

Microwave ovens for home use are efficient, easy to operate, and convenient. When buying, purchase from a trusted manufacturer. Quality brands will offer value for your money and give you a long service. If you buy cheap and low-quality appliances, you might have to replace them after a short time.

How to Make Your Microwave Last Longer?

Regular Maintenance

A microwave lasts optimal time if well maintained. Be quick to clean up spills immediately they happen. When you leave bits of food inside after cooking, you create an avenue for damage in the interior. Always wipe out any particle and scratch the grill after cooking.

Turn on the Exhaust Fan

Turning on the exhaust fan over the range unit prevents moisture from getting into the electronics in the microwave. When moisture accumulates in the microwave, it shortens the life span of the unit. Ensure you clean the grease filters beneath the unit using a soft cloth or a paper towel.  

Degrease the Grease Filter

When the filters on the underside of the unit become gunky or laden with sticky food bits, it makes the microwave less efficient. Failure to clear the mess can also lead to a fire hazard. To lengthen your microwave's life expectancy, carefully degrease the filters. To degrease, use a detergent and hot water. You may need to wear protective gloves to shield your hands. To clean the filters with ease, carefully slide them from the microwave and soak them for a while before acting on them. You can also use your microwave's manual to learn how to remove them.

A child opening the microwave

Do Not Slam the Microwave Door

Slamming the microwave door can easily render the unit useless. A microwave has a feature that allows the appliance to function only when the door is closed. When you slam the door, you may damage the door latches that must work in unison for the appliance to work. The door is an important safety feature designed to accommodate minimal amounts of energy radiation.

Do Not Run the Microwave Empty

If you run the microwave empty, you will damage the interior. A microwave runs with the aid of water molecules that are generated by heat from food items. So when the microwave oven is empty, it means there is a lack of water molecules inside. If it heats for a long time, it will burn inside the interior.

Avoid Most Metals

When you put metals or food vessels with gold or silver coating, or metal trim inside a microwave, it might lead to sparking.  When the sparking is too much, burns may occur on the inside of the oven, causing damage to the interior. It is advisable to use aluminum foil to cover the food.

Use Pre-set Cooking Times

Using pre-determined times helps prevent food from overcooking. When certain foods overcook, they spatter inside the oven. Both the spattering and the 'unused' energy during overcooking could damage the microwave.

Chicken in a microwave

Avoid DIY Repairs

If you are not a qualified technician, repairing a microwave is not only fatal but could also render it useless. Avoid DIY repairs at all costs. A microwave is a complex appliance that requires an expert to fix. Microwaves have accumulated energy that can shock you even when it is unplugged to power. When you observe a mechanical problem, call in a trained technician.

Avoid Running the Microwave for Too Long

When using a microwave, exercise caution. Leaving the microwave on for an extended period of time could be a mistake if the time is entered incorrectly on the keypad. The appliance's lifespan is shortened if it becomes overheated.

Avoid Using the Microwave Oven for Cooking

Do not make the microwave your primary cooking option. Perform conventional cooking using other means of cooking other than the microwave. Allow the microwave to warm or defrost food items that require minimal time.

Always Follow User-instructions

All microwaves are different! Every appliance has a customized instructions manual on how to handle the appliance. Read yours carefully; do not assume what's suitable for one is right for yours.

Pushing buttons on a microwave

The Bottom Line

A microwave is one of the major appliances in a kitchen; it is efficient and convenient. Be prepared to replace it after every ten years of service. However, you may have to replace it before an elapse of ten years if it shows dangerous signs like emitting electronics burning smell or if the door seal does not close completely. To ensure your microwave lasts long, buy your appliances from trusted brands and adopt the above guidelines.

About the author

Ana Stanar

An Art Teacher, entrepreneur, and a mother of three, Ana considers cooking a form of art - pleasure for all senses as well as a process that requires creativity, passion and devotion. Since she leads a busy life, Ana just loves testing various kitchen appliances for Kitchen Gearoid, especially those that save her time while preparing food and cooking but also make every meal a masterpiece!


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