Microwaves are as common in kitchens as cutlery, saving us all a huge amount of time when it comes to cooking food and reheating leftovers.
They’re not without their problems, however. You only really learn how vital your microwave is when it packs in!
One of the most common problems you’ll run into is an overheating microwave. This can happen when the appliance is used for too long, or the vents have become blocked.
Don’t panic! Quite often this won’t be a permanent problem and is usually the result of a safety feature that’s designed to protect the microwave from permanent damage.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through all the steps you need to follow to – hopefully – get your microwave working again!
After that, I’ve got some useful tips that should help prevent your microwave from overheating in the future.
How To Get Your Microwave Working Again
Follow these steps in order to get your overheated microwave back up and running.
Unplug the microwave
The first – vital – step is to disconnect your microwave from the power supply. Unplug it, and then wait at least 30 minutes for the appliance to cool down.
This can be annoying if you’re in the middle of a job, but it’s absolutely essential. This waiting period will not only help the microwave cool off, it should also reset any safety features that were triggered.
Inspect the vents
The vents on your microwave must be kept clear to ensure adequate air circulation.
Get right up close and check that the vents haven’t been blocked by dust or any other debris. If the microwave can’t dissipate excess heat properly, it will overheat and shut down.
If you can see any obstructions, grab a soft brush or a cloth and clean them out of the way.
Check the door seal
If the door seal on the microwave has become damage or misaligned, the microwave can overheat.
Have a really close look at the door seal for any signs of damage or wear. If you can see any issues with the naked eye, that’s almost certainly causing the microwave to overheat.
You’ll need to replace the door seal if this is the case. If you’re not confident doing this yourself, call a qualified repair specialist. They’ll almost certainly be able to both source the replacement part for you, and fit it correctly.
Reset the microwave
Most microwaves can be reset to their default factory settings. Check the owner’s manual if you still have it, or look up the manual for your make and model online.
Once the microwave has cooled down for half an hour (and you’ve checked for any obstructions), plug it back into the power supply.
Follow the factory reset instructions for your exact make and model, and see if that fixes the problem.
Test the microwave
Once you’ve completed all of the steps above, turn the microwave on and see if it functions as normal.
If it’s still not showing any signs of life, then it’s likely an internal component has been damaged by the overheating.
You’ve only got two real options here:
- Call a qualified technician, but try to provide as much information as possible for the quote. If it’s an older appliance, the cost of repair might be too much compared to an outright replacement.
- Buy a new microwave. I’ve got a guide to disposing of your old microwave, so check that out if you need any help getting rid of it responsibly.
If you do need a new microwave, the Panasonic NN-SN686S is frequently cited as the go-to family microwave. It’s definitely one to consider!
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(Heads up! If you click on a product link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I never recommend a product I wouldn’t use in my own kitchen, and this helps keep the site running. Thank you.)
Tips for Preventing Microwave Overheating
If you do buy a replacement or get your overheated microwave working again, there are a few tips to prevent the problem happening again in the future.
Don’t overuse it
This starts with buying the right microwave for your normal usage.
Using your microwave for extended periods of time – especially at high power settings – can cause the appliance to overheat.
For that reason, you really need to make sure you’re using the right tool for your particular set of tasks!
When placing your microwave in your kitchen, make sure there’s enough space all around it for air to flow properly.
As a general rule, I’ll make sure there are at least two or three inches of clearance on all sides. If that’s not possible, at least make sure the vents are unobstructed.
Keep the microwave clean
No one likes cleaning a mucky microwave, but it’s an important part of keeping the appliance in good working order!
Use a damp cloth or sponge and give the interior a good wipe down after every use. If you allow food to build up in there, the microwave will have to work that much harder to heat your food.
Take care of your cookware
If your cookware has become warped or damaged, don’t use it in your microwave.
This can not only result in unevenly heated food, it can also increase the risk of your microwave overheating.
If any of your microwave-safe cookware is noticeably damaged, consider replacing it. That stuff is always cheaper to replace than a microwave!
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- Built-in vents are splatter-resistant; Reduces unnecessary clean-ups and messy microwaves
Watch the cooking time
Try to avoid overcooking your food by paying close attention to the cooking times on recipes or packaging.
If the food is overcooked, it’ll generate excess heat, and this can increase the risk of the microwave overheating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions that often come up around this topic.
Can a microwave stop working if it gets too hot?
A microwave can definitely stop working if it gets too hot. If it overheats, the safety features will often kick in, shutting off the appliance to prevent catastrophic damage.
The internal components of a microwave can be remarkably fragile, and these safety features are designed to protect them – even if that means putting the microwave out of action temporarily.
How do you reset an overheated microwave?
If you want to reset your overheated microwave, follow these steps
1) Unplug the microwave from the power source and wait at least 30 minutes to allow it to cool down.
2) Check and clean the vents to ensure proper airflow.
3) Plug the microwave back into the power source.
4) Press the reset button if your microwave has one, or follow specific instructions in the user manual to reset the appliance if it doesn’t have a reset button.
What causes a microwave fuse to burn out?
A microwave fuse can burn out for a number of reasons. These include:
1) Overheating: Excessive heat buildup inside the microwave can cause the fuse to burn out. This is a safety measure that’s designed to prevent damage occurring to the appliance.
2) Power surges: Electrical fluctuations or power surges can cause excessive current to flow through the fuse. This in turn causes it to burn out altogether.
3) Component failure: A failure or short circuit in other internal components, such as the magnetron or transformer, can cause the fuse to burn out. Again, it’s just trying to prevent more serious damage to the microwave!
4) Age and wear: Over time, a fuse can weaken and become more susceptible to burning out due to normal usage over time.
I hope you’ve been able to get your microwave back to life by following this guide.
If so, it’s well worth following those tried and tested tips to prevent the problem from occurring again.
As with so many appliances, a little bit of TLC goes a very long way towards keeping your microwave in good 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