Is the chipped lining in my old microwave dangerous?
February 23, 2008 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Is my microwave still safe? The paint or lining or whatever has gotten chipped over the years and bare metal is showing through in four or five places, mostly on the bottom of the oven.

My (Samsung; inexpensive) microwave is about 4 years old and still working fine. Today, though, when I was cleaning it I noticed that there are four or five places on the bottom where the paint or the lining or whatever the white stuff is inside microwaves has chipped away, exposing bare metal. The biggest chip is about 1/4 inch long. It's still working fine and I don't have a clue when any of the chipping started, btw. It could have been going on for a long time; I confess I don't clean it as often as I should and rarely look at it carefully.

Is this going to spark or start a fire? Is it going to release noxious gases that will infect our food and kill us? Or anything else freaky and bad that I can't think of offhand? I really don't want to buy a new microwave unless I have to. It's heavily used - I have a teenage son who eats more or less constantly.
posted by mygothlaundry to Technology (7 answers total)
I would err on the side of caution, and say that it's time to throw it out and get a new one. It might spark and start a fire. You don't want to be standing outside in you PJ's, and fuzzy slippers with the neighbors bringing you a cup of tea, while you watch the nice firemen do their job, shaking your head and muttering "I should have listened to the mefites, when they said 'toss it' ". Seriously.
posted by Acacia at 12:48 PM on February 23, 2008

It's fine. The expoxy paint is non-conductive and more or less totally transparent to the microwave energy. The currents run on the surface of the metal that it covers. Paint of no paint will have no effect on the operation.
posted by three blind mice at 12:54 PM on February 23, 2008

It's fine. The microwaves pass through the paint/porcelain anyway so it doesn't really matter if the stuff is there or not. It's more an aesthetic touch for the consumer. If you look a lot of stainless steel microwaves have no finish on the inside. Link it up baby!
posted by ZaneJ. at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2008

It should be fine. The metal acts as a Faraday cage, so as long as the metal itself is in-tact, you won't be exposed to heaping doses of microwave radiation.

The only potential issue is rust. If it starts the rust, that would be enough for me to throw it out.
posted by spiderskull at 1:44 PM on February 23, 2008

You can actually buy touch up paint for microwaves at some home improvement places
posted by hortense at 2:46 PM on February 23, 2008

It's not like metal and a microwave are like bleach and ammonia. Metal only sparks in a microwave when there's a gap for it to arc across.

You can microwave most spoons without any problem, as an example, but forks will have immediate arcing between the tines.
posted by Jairus at 5:30 PM on February 23, 2008

Your microwave is fine, but I would consider the touch-up paint, just because it'll be easier to clean and prevent rust and further chipping.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:58 PM on February 23, 2008

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