Doing so well with appliances today!
September 5, 2014 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Well, I just accidentally ran our microwave for about 4-5 minutes, with nothing in it. Did I wreck it? Is it a Dangerous Microwave now?

This is our crappy microwave.

I was already aware that running an empty microwave could wreck this magical thing called a "magnetron". I had meant to set the kitchen timer, but accidentally just turned the microwave itself on. When I realized what I'd done, I immediately stopped the microwave.

The microwave was warm to the touch afterward (outside and inside) , but nothing was melty or weird inside. There were a few items on top of the microwave that were also warm, but also not melty. The waveguide looked fine.

We kind of hate this microwave for many reasons, but we hang onto it because we can't afford another. And I googled around about this issue, as well. But the stuff I was getting was too heavy on Yahoo Answers and yeeah no. So I here's what I need to know:

1) Think I've wrecked this thing?

2) Do microwaves become unsafe in this situation?

posted by Coatlicue to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Anecdata: I've accidentally done that a bunch of times and have yet to kill either a microwave or myself as a result.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:57 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Maybe if you left it running for hours with nothing in it. But a couple minutes? No, of course not.
posted by steinwald at 7:00 PM on September 5, 2014

I've done the same several times, too with no negative results to report.

At least in my experience, it's also pretty typical for the microwave to "warm to the touch" and for items sitting on top of it to be warm. Warm, ok. Super hot, like burning the skin if touched, now that would worry me.
posted by stormyteal at 7:03 PM on September 5, 2014

Best answer: We kind of hate this microwave for many reasons

Well I don't think you've succeeded in "teaching it a lesson". By which I mean, breaking it.

It should be just fine.
posted by aubilenon at 7:11 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Your microwave is totally fine, but if you need permission to buy a new one just cause you hate this one, you have my permission.

also you could "accidentally" microwave an 80-stack of burnable CDs. It does look a bit like a cake.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:23 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For what it's worth, I hated my microwave. I did things like this several times without thinking, and eventually the emitter on the magnetron, under the little cardboard shield arced to the housing like crazy and the whole thing killed itself.

I got a new-ish Panasonic inverter microwave at a church sale for like $2.50. It slays. Like quesadillas in 10 seconds kinds of power.

If you hate the thing, check church sales and thrift stores and find something nicer and just recycle it. Mine came with the manual still taped to the inside, and I've seen quite a few like that at thrift stores over time.

As was said above, if you hate it you have my permission to use this as an excuse and move on. And don't take not affording it for an answer. My total microwave expenditures since college are somewhere under $20 still.
posted by emptythought at 2:57 AM on September 6, 2014

My mom did this to her microwave and it did die but in a dramatic sparks a flyin' kind of way. Completely fried it but it hadn't ran that long and it was dead immediately after the sparks. If yours is still running I'd say it's fine.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 5:17 AM on September 6, 2014

Response by poster: I'm going to do it. I'm going to hit up the thrift stores and etc, until we can jettison this thing. We will be liberated of this piece of crap. Until then, at least we can squeeze some usage out of it. Thanks to everyone for educating me on the relative durability of ill-operated microwave ovens.

Here's the biggest reason why I hate this microwave, by the way: It has some kind of terrible design flaw. You can't just press a button like "defrost" or "power" or "kitchen timer" and have that function actually become available to you. Mais non. The microwave whimsically decides which buttons will work, and which ones won't. Once you've discovered the secret button that works today, you will suddenly be able to access the button you really want.

Ex: Say, like last night, you want "kitchen timer". You press that button. Microwave says nope. You press all the other buttons. Finally, you stumble on tonight's Only Valid Choice. (Tomorrow, who knows what that choice will be!) You press that choice. Now, the microwave will allow you to use the button you really want.

The microwave was a gift from my dad, who wanted us to have one around when we had a newborn. He returned the first one to the store because of this button issue. The second one appeared to work correctly for a day or so, then it ALSO developed the button issue. So it might be an issue with this microwave model. Le sigh.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:29 AM on September 6, 2014

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