Does it really matter if your microwave doesn’t spin?
The turntable in your microwave is designed to rotate so that the food inside also rotates. This ensures even heating of the food, and avoids the risk of hot or cold spots developing – never pleasant!
If the turntable can’t spin, you can get around this problem by pausing the microwave regularly and stirring the contents. This is a manual solution that will go some way towards fixing the problem.
It’s also, frankly, an annoying thing to have to do! Microwaves are supposed to be convenience appliances. I don’t know about you but having to babysit the thing isn’t my idea of fun – or an efficient use of my time in the kitchen.
What causes a microwave to stop spinning though, and what can you do to fix the problem?
In the rest of this article, I’ll run through the most common problems, and give some advice on how you might fix this.
It goes without saying though that many of these jobs are best left to the professionals. If your microwave is more than five years old, you might well find it more cost effective to look into a modern replacement instead.
You can search Viva Flavor to find the best microwave for a certain job, but the XXX has long been my go-to recommendation if you’re looking for an appliance for the typical family kitchen.
#1 A Damaged Or Broken Drive Coupler
The drive coupler is a small plastic component that connects the turntable motor with the turntable itself.
Depending on how exactly it’s become damaged, it may prevent the turntable from spinning.
If it’s clearly damaged and looks easy to remove, you may be able to find a replacement part online and replace it yourself.
If at all in doubt though, look up a local professional – they’ll be able to not only source the correct part for you, but also fit it safely.
#2 The Turntable Motor Is Kaput
Similar to the drive coupler, the turntable motor may have given up the ghost. When that happens, the turntable definitely won’t spin.
You are very unlikely to be able to replace this yourself, and in this case I recommend you go straight to either a replacement or professional servicing.
#3 Obstructions Around The Turntable
Empty your microwave and take a really close look at the turntable, the exterior of the motor, and the plastic ring if your appliance has one.
Even a little bit of food can cause a blockage, so make sure you’ve given it a really good clean before considering a repair or replacement.
I’ve got a useful guide to cleaning really filthy microwaves elsewhere if you need one. A thorough clean is often a good place to start when it comes to all kinds of appliance problems!
#4 Is The Microwave Level?
You’ll kick yourself if this is the cause, but get down at eye level with the appliance and check the following:
- The turntable is sitting level within the microwave. If not investigate the cause and fix if you can do so easily yourself.
- Your microwave itself isn’t sitting level on the counter. In this case you may be able to adjust the legs, or clear out any junk beneath the appliance.
#5 The Control Board Malfunctions
Out of all the possible causes in this article, this is the one where I think you have the fewest options for fixing it.
I would be astonished if you can get a cost-effective repair for this sort of problem, compared to simply buying a replacement and enjoying all the new features that come with the latest microwaves.
If you can get a free repair quote, go for it! Just set your expectations before doing so, and be prepared to replace if your microwave is getting on in age.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before wrapping things up, here are some useful answers to some of the questions that commonly pop up around this topic.
What happens if a microwave plate does not rotate?
If the plate inside the microwave can’t turn, then the food – or liquid – you’re heating won’t cook through evenly. What this means is that some parts of it will be overcooked, while others stay undercooked.
Even if the food is still cooked to a safe level, you may still notice unpleasant cold or hot spots when you eat the meal – not nice.
Using the microwave in any unintended way may also damage the microwave. In the case of a plate that won’t rotate, the biggest risk is the appliance overheating.
Why do commercial microwaves not spin?
At the end of the day, the job of a microwave is to heat food evenly and quickly. There are actually some commercial microwaves that spin, but they’re designed in such a way that larger quantities can be catered for.
Other commercial microwaves are designed to be used with special containers or trays that don’t require turning, or the actual heating element may rotate around the food.
Can you still use a microwave if the turntable is broken?
Although you can still use a microwave if the turntable is broken, you may not get the best results – even with lots of stirring.
You can try rotating the dish as well as stirring the contents regularly, but at this point you’re really losing the key advantages of owning the appliance in the first place!
As a temporary fix it’s fine, but I would try to get a free quote for a professional repair. It may be more cost-effective to simply upgrade to a new microwave if you can afford the investment.
How much does it cost to fix a microwave turntable?
On the subject of repairs, how much is it likely to cost to fix your microwave turntable?
This is not a question with a simple answer, as much will depend on the exact make and model of your microwave.
You will probably pay less than $100 to replace a broken motor, but labor costs may increase that. The professional you hire may also find other problems that need addressing, so make sure you get a full quote before committing to any work.
There may be other reasons why your microwave doesn’t spin, but those are certainly the most common causes.
You might like to Google the make and model of your microwave to see if other people have run into the same issue – and they might just have a solution you can try.
If it looks easy to fix yourself, it’s always worth giving it a go. The golden rule though: if in doubt, talk to the professionals when it comes to electrical appliances.
I hope you’ve found this article useful, and good luck getting your microwave back to fine working order!
Mark’s a lifelong food fanatic and spent ten years working as an entertainment journalist. He now combines his love of food, drink and writing as the founder and editor of Viva Flavor. Read more