How can I completely stop my microwave from beeping?
November 26, 2007 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I want my microwave never to beep (either for setting times or when cooking is done). Any other device I'd just disassemble enough to cut or block the sound source, but I'm guessing disassembly's not safe here. I don't have a manual (it's a GE, no apparent model number, bought secondhand last year). Can you think of a solution other than trying to physically block the sound just from the outside?
posted by lorimer to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure our (Amana Radarange) microwave's manual has a way to disable sounds. Look all over the microwave for stickers (here's some common places) or look on GE's site to see where they typically put the model numbers. (Or maybe there's some kind of serial number that indicates it?) Then Google the model number to find a manual.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:22 PM on November 26, 2007

On one hand, I'm an electrical engineer. On the other hand, I've never done this before.

So, that said, I think it's safe to take the cover off, find the speaker wires and snip them. With the device unplugged of course. The hard part maybe getting to the speaker wires, since the speaker may actually be part of the controller circuit board.

The number one thing to watch out for when poking around unplugged equipment is capacitors. They can store a lot of energy (think small explosion) even if the device has been unplugged for a while. So keep your hands and metal objects well clear of them.

Been fantasizing about this myself for years. Except I want to just turn the thing down, not disable it. A series resistor might take care of that.
posted by intermod at 6:54 PM on November 26, 2007

Model numbers for microwaves are typically along the inside edge of the doorframe. Did you check there?
posted by winston at 6:57 PM on November 26, 2007

Microwaves are pretty safe to open up when they've been unplugged except for the aforementioned capacitors. The capacitors will look like either a round or semi flattened tin can with wires coming out of one end. From personal painful experience they will hold a debilitating charge for days.

However this shouldn't really stop you. The capacitors are usually far away from the bell circuit. Wear a pair of heavy leather gloves and just unplug the bell or clip the lead going to it with a pair of side cutters keeping body parts far away from the caps.

Note however that many of the bells/speakers are directly mounted on the controller board. Disconnecting these may be non-trivial.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 PM on November 26, 2007

Unplug it before opening.

The speaker will probably be soldered right to a circuit board somewhere, and it will probably look like this. While it is a little unconventional, I might consider brutality rather than taking everything apart to properly remove the thing - like strategically attacking it with wire cutters, right through the middle. That will depend on how the board is mounted in the microwave though. And, it is remotely possible that a brutal attack could cause other problems..
posted by Chuckles at 9:20 PM on November 26, 2007

Here is a microwave dissection.
posted by Chuckles at 9:24 PM on November 26, 2007

Response by poster: That dissection link is cool but its wording seems like further evidence that I shouldn't take mine apart. In addition to those warnings I've read that microwaves aren't something an uneducated beginner should take apart because you can screw up their microwave-insulating capabilities.

I'm not finding a model number anywhere on my unit -- not on inside edges or anywhere outside. There's a UPC on the back with two lengthy numbers, but googling those was no help. Its front has the GE logo on the left and "Turntable Microwave Oven" on the right. It doesn't have any Menu or Settings button, just the buttons for timings, Power, Start, and a bunch of food-specific buttons (popcorn, reheat, etc.) It seems like a basic cheap model without customizability.
posted by lorimer at 11:43 PM on November 26, 2007

Have you tried looking for the microwave on the GE website? The user manuals are online.

For example, one model's instructions say: "The beeper sound level can be adjusted. Press the OPTIONS button once and turn the dial to select mute to loud. Press the dial to enter."

However, the cheaper models appear not to have any beep volume or mute controls.
posted by robcorr at 12:10 AM on November 27, 2007

I have an inexpensive GE microwave oven with the "Turntable" label, the JES738. The serial and model numbers are inside the oven on the left wall.

The manual mentions nothing about volume control. You can see manuals for this and other models on GE's site. I checked their knowledge base, too--volume is adjustable on models with specific keys labeled SOUND, SOUND LEVEL, or BEEPER VOLUME.

It is an annoying sound.
posted by bonobo at 1:45 AM on November 27, 2007

I'd do it. (Nothing ventured, etc.)

If you are insecure inside electronics, do you have an acquaintance who isn't?

If you DO get someone else to do it, it might be a good idea to take before/after microwave leakage measurements. Radio Shack used to sell them, and I'll bet a few minutes of googling will locate one, cheap.

It is unlikely that you'll disturb the suppression and shielding elements in the microwave by seeking the beeper.

Find the squeaker/kill it/rejoice/brag. Rule your technology!
posted by FauxScot at 4:52 AM on November 27, 2007

Back in the days of modems that dialed I greatly reduced the godawfulscreech by putting a couple pieces of duct tape over the hole in the little speakeroid. That might be a way around having to deal with removing it from the circuit board.

I'm guessing super glue would also have the desired effect.

If you're nervous, take a tip from the medical community - work on a cadaver first. Microwave turn table motors are well loved among the decorate your house for Halloween community, you just have to keep your eyes open on trash day. If you asked on something like free cycle you could probably get 20 broken microwaves.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:46 PM on November 27, 2007

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