Help me cook my lean cuisines!
February 15, 2010 11:53 PM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my microwave?

I have a pretty heavy-duty Oster microwave. Have had it for about a year-and-a-half now. It stopped working tonight. As in, I punched in the time and hit start, and then the time started counting down as though I'd set the timer. But no heat, no rotating, no anything...

Is it dead? Can it be fixed? Or do I have to actually learn how to cook until I can get a new one? Thanks!
posted by mingodingo to Technology (8 answers total)
I was going to suggest the door - there's a switch that tells the microwave not to run when the door is open that can become defective - but in all the microwaves I've owned the timer doesn't run at all with the door open. My next guess would be that an internal fuse has blown.

I wouldn't recommend opening up a microwave oven, even to check for a blown fuse, unless you know exactly what you're doing - i.e. how to safely discharge the capacitors. You may be able to find someone who can do a cheap repair for you - these things are often a five minute job for old-school appliance repair people. But unfortunately we live in a culture where appliances are considered disposable, which is the most likely fate of your microwave oven.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:51 AM on February 16, 2010

Not to make you out to be stupid, but double-check that you didn't accidentally set the power level to 0. My microwave acts like a timer, such as yours, if I do that.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:13 AM on February 16, 2010

This doesn't sound like a dead-beyond-repair unit. Barring a setup error, the operational components are so completely dead and the controls so completely normal, that it almost has to be a failed single common connection or relay. Probably between either the control or ground, and the motors and magnetron. Possibly one half of the door switch - the half that interrupts power to the motors and magnetron - b/c usually the timer stops running when the unit does. In any case, it's probably not majorly expensive parts that have failed.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 5:56 AM on February 16, 2010

Please DO NOT work on the inside of the microwave, there are seriously high voltages and powers inside that WILL KILL you. Microwaves are simply the deadliest thing in your house. Take it somewhere to be serviced.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:45 AM on February 16, 2010

I have had the same problem with microwave ovens before and resolved it by replacing the oven's fuse, which is usually accessible through an access panel without the need to disassemble the oven or open the cabinet. These fuses are uncommon and only available from electronics parts suppliers.
posted by Oireachtac at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2010

Oster has been very helpful to me in the past about their products, even obscure ones they produced years ago. Call their customer support line and ask for help! Barring that, microwaves are relatively inexpensive these days, perhaps just buy a new one?!? Or find a gently used one for sale in your area?!?
posted by kuppajava at 10:08 AM on February 16, 2010

Do not mess around with the inside of your microwave. Don't try to fix it yourself. Seriously. I just wanted to reiterate this - microwaves really are super dangerous.
posted by k8lin at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2010

Microwaves are simply the deadliest thing in your house.... microwaves really are super dangerous.

You mean like the deadly microwaves that everyone's cell phone puts out? Microwave ovens are typically 2450 MHz. GSM phones are up to 1900 MHz. Both microwaves.

You can open your microwave oven to determine if there is something obvious like a blown fuse. It's not going to kill you if it is not plugged in. There are large capacitors that can give you a surprising shock if you are careless, but nothing even close to the danger of a CRT in a TV. If you don't see anything obvious, and Oster can't give you any assistance, it is probably cheapest to just replace it. One of the most common failures is the magnetron and the symptom is lack of heat, but that wouldn't explain the failure of the platter to rotate. There could be a relay failure, but that is probably beyond your expertise.

I assume you have already done this, but no harm in being thorough. Have you tried unplugging the oven, waiting 30 seconds, then replugging. This should reset the microprocessor and all of its defaults.
posted by JackFlash at 1:10 PM on February 16, 2010

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