Your microwave life expectancy will depend a great deal on how you use it, and how often you use it.
It’s a worthwhile question to ask, however, as more than 90% of US households make room for one in their kitchen!
As a general rule, you should expect a typical microwave to last around seven years, assuming you’re not putting it under an unusual amount of pressure.
Use it frequently throughout the day, and fail to care for it properly, and you can expect that number to go down depending on the workload.
What this typically means is that the average household of four will realistically get around four to five years of use from their appliance.
(Note that if you put unsuitable items in the microwave, that will reduce its life expectancy even further. For example, most metal objects can’t go in the appliance.)
At this point it’s probably worth shopping around for a replacement.
The microwave might not be performing as efficiently as it should by then, and you’ll be able to bag some new features as the technology matures and moves its way down the product line.
Signs It’s Time To Repair Or Replace
I’ve written an article elsewhere on the site about the signs of an unsafe microwave. Once these problems start popping up, it’s definitely time to start shopping around.
To summarize though, here are some warning signs that it’s worth being aware of.
Cooking Performance: If you notice that your regular dishes aren’t coming out of the microwave as warm as they used to, this is a sign of serious decline. It’s possible the magnetron in your microwave is starting to fail.
Damaged Door Seals: As you’d expect, it’s important that the energy remains inside your microwave. If there’s any sign of wear and tear on the door then you should definitely consider replacing your appliance.
Unresponsive Keypad: This is more of an irritation factor than anything else, but you might notice the controls becoming unresponsive. Before you throw your microwave out though, grab an old toothbrush and try cleaning around the edges of the controls. All kinds of food can get gunked up in here, and it’s always worth at least trying this quick fix. Give the whole microwave a good clean while you’re at it.
Age Of The Appliance: I’ve listed seven years as the typical life expectancy of a microwave, but it’s not unheard of for them to last up to ten years if they’re used lightly and well cared-for. After this point though, you’re definitely going to notice problems with efficiency and performance. Ten years is a good amount of time to get from any appliance, so it’s probably time to treat yourself to a newer model.
Unpleasant Sounds & Smells: This is the big one. If you notice any unusual smells coming from your microwave, or it’s making problematic noises, stop using it immediately. You can consider getting a professional repair, but these can be quite expensive. It’s often worth looking around at the latest options within your price range, as you may get some new features and technology that are worth the extra investment.
Tips For A Longer Microwave Life
We all want to get value for money out of our kitchen appliances, and there are a few things you can definitely do to extend the life of your microwave.
Give It Space: Microwaves need good ventilation so they don’t overheat. Wherever your microwave is located, make sure there’s at least two inches of space around the air vents. This will help the fans do their job of cooling the microwave properly.
Microwave-Safe Items: Don’t put anything in the microwave that isn’t meant to go in there! We all understand the perils of microwaving metal, but pay close attention to the labeling of everything before you throw it in your appliance! There are little things too, like making sure you prick your potatoes before putting them in. Otherwise pressure can build up, and send a shockwave through the appliance.
Keep It Clean: A clean microwave is a happy microwave, and it’ll provide you with many years of good service in exchange for regular basic maintenance. No matter how disgusting your microwave is, there’s a trick or two to help get it back into mint condition!
Be Gentle: Avoid getting into a habit of elbowing the microwave door shut! As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this guide, the integrity of the door is really important. Be gentle with it, because if this part of the microwave is damaged you’re in for a repair or replacement!
Never Run It Empty: If you run a microwave while it’s empty, that energy will have nowhere to go but back into the sides of the appliance. This can have devastating effects on your microwave, and is a very fast way to find yourself shopping around for a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before I wrap things up, here are some answers to some related questions.
When Should You Replace Your Microwave?
As a general rule, any microwave over the age of ten years should be replaced. If you use it sparingly in a household setting, it will last up to seven years. If you use it heavily within that setting, expect a lifespan closer to five years.
What Are The Signs That A Microwave Is Going Bad?
I’ve outlined the main warning signs earlier on in this guide. Just to summarize, these are the signs that your microwave is going bad:
– Poor heating performance
– Damaged door seals
– Unresponsive controls
– Problematic sounds & smells
You might like to read my article on recognizing when a microwave is unsafe to use.
Do Microwaves Last Forever?
No! Even the best cared-for microwave, assuming it’s used at all, will have a finite lifespan. No matter how well you look after your appliance, the magnetron that creates all that energy only has a certain amount of life in it.
The harder you work your microwave, the harder you’ll wear down the magnetron. Even light use will wear it down eventually though.
Is It Worth Fixing A Microwave?
It can be worth fixing a microwave, but you have to balance the age of the microwave with the cost of repairs.
If it’s an old appliance and you’ll be replacing it soon anyway, it may well be more cost-effective to simply get a newer microwave.
You’ll need a replacement sooner or later, which can make the repair cost a bit of a false economy.
I hope that’s given you a much clearer idea of the life expectancy of a microwave! Much will depend of course on how you use – and care – for the appliance.
In short, keep looking after your microwave and your microwave will keep looking after you!
Just be ready to start shopping around at the five, seven or ten year mark, depending on your circumstances.