How long do microwaves usually last?



A microwave is one of those essential kitchen appliances you can find in just about every household. If you’ve had yours for some time, you may wonder how long a microwave lasts. With normal use, you can generally expect the average lifespan of your microwave oven to fall between seven and 10 years. However, with larger households and heavy use, components may wear down more quickly, limiting the microwave’s lifespan.

For many homeowners, the microwave oven is an essential element of their kitchen and an appliance used on a daily basis. From heating up leftovers to popping popcorn, the microwave has become a staple — one that’s dearly missed when it breaks down. 

There are signs you can look for when this home appliance is on its way out. Here, we’ll cover some red flags, offer maintenance tips to help prolong the life of this kitchen appliance, and discuss when it makes sense to purchase a new microwave.


Signs that your microwave may break soon

There are several signs that your microwave is on the verge of a breakdown. When you know these signs, you can better prepare for the added cost of repair or replacement. The following are some things to look out for throughout the lifespan of your microwave: 

  • Longer cooking time: One of the first things you may notice is a longer cooking time needed for heating food. To test this, place a cup of water inside, cook on high for a couple of minutes, and watch for boiling water molecules. If the water isn’t hot to the touch when the time is up, it might be time to schedule a repair or shop for a new microwave. 
  • Arcing: Arcing typically happens when the electromagnetic waves come in contact with a metal surface, like a fork or a bit of aluminum foil, but this can also occur while heating up some types of foods that contain high levels of metals and minerals, such as carrots, kale or hot dogs. When this happens, you may want to end cooking time early or keep a watchful eye. But when your microwave is putting on a light show or giving off smoke and burning smells, it’s likely time to call in a service professional or say goodbye. 
  • Insufficient sealing: In some cases, homeowners may notice the microwave door not sealing all the way. This poses a problem because the door provides a barrier between you and radiation. When this seal shows signs of wear and tear, it creates a safety issue no matter how many years old the appliance is. 
  • Faulty keypad: Another pretty big sign of an aging microwave is a non-working keypad. Just as you’re ready to do some microwave cooking, none of the buttons work. Sometimes it’s an easy fix, such as cleaning off any buildup on the keys. Other times it might be an electrical issue or a design flaw. You can look into scheduling a microwave repair or replacing the appliance entirely.
  • Too much noise: Your microwave should only make a slight hum when it cooks your food. However, if it starts to sound different than normal or has gotten progressively louder over time, you’ll want to check several components, such as the fan blades or the turntable. If those seem fine, it might be a sign of a bigger issue. 

Each sign can signal potential issues with your microwave oven. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can potentially extend its life. In the next section, discover some ways to take the best care of your microwave so it continues to provide you with the convenience you have come to expect for as long as possible.


Microwave maintenance tips

Often taken for granted, the microwave is many homeowners’ ticket to quick and easy meals with little cleanup. It adds convenience and simplicity to your life and asks little in return. 

There are some things you can do that may help prolong the average microwave’s life expectancy so you can use it at your disposal for as long as possible. Some tips include: 

  • Keep the inside clean, including the turntable. This not only applies for health reasons, but leftover food inside the microwave can negatively impact the effectiveness of the heating element. 
  • Use microwave-safe dishes and containers. Non-microwave-safe items can melt inside the microwave. 
  • Clean the outside and surrounding countertop areas. A clean area around the microwave allows for better vent circulation. 
  • Prevent splashes by covering food. Splashes of tomato sauce can be unsightly and create hot spots inside the microwave. 
  • Avoid placing metal inside. Metal objects, such as forks or foil, can cause arcing. When these spark, it may cause irreparable damage to the microwave.
  • Close the door gently. Slamming the door can damage switches and door latches. 
  • Don’t use a microwave as a timer. When run while empty, the microwave can overheat and get damaged. 

Tips like these apply to both counter and over-the-range microwaves. For kitchens equipped with a microwave over the range, it’s beneficial to clear away gunk and grime accumulated on the lower grill and exhaust fan. Over time, this buildup can create problems with your appliance. 

Simple tasks like these may improve the average life of your microwave so you can keep enjoying the quick, modern convenience it supplies.


How much does it cost to have a microwave repaired?

The cost of repairing an old microwave depends on a number of factors. The brand and model play a large role in cost, as does the particular replacement part. Also, expect labor fees as part of your bill if you hire a service professional. 

While replacing a microwave may seem like the easier route, you can avoid adding an appliance to a landfill and save time shopping around for a new one if you repair it. Some common repair jobs and replacement parts include magnetron or diode replacement. The magnetron is the element responsible for heating the food. The diode converts energy and powers the magnetron. If you’re the DIY type, keep in mind that these parts are brand- and model-specific. Before heading out to the store, check your microwave so you can get the right parts. 

When hiring an appliance-repair professional, expect to pay an average of $150, including labor and parts, according to HomeAdvisor. Weigh the cost of repair against replacement to determine which makes the most sense for your situation.


When does it make sense to replace your microwave?

To repair or replace? This is a common question across households facing microwave challenges. As much as you might love your appliance, there are times when it just makes sense to replace your old microwave. 

While repair for a single issue can be more cost-effective than a complete replacement, the number of replacement parts and labor costs quickly add up if multiple problems are happening. If there are major issues going on that cost more than the microwave, it makes sense to replace the unit. 

Age can also be a determining factor in this decision. If you’re dealing with an older model that you’ve had for at least five years, you may want to forfeit repair and shop for an upgrade.


Microwaves are covered under the Cinch Appliances plan

Microwave ovens are an integral component of today’s modern kitchen. This appliance not only conveniently and quickly heats food, but it also serves as a clock and timer. When it’s not heating or otherwise working properly, your life can feel disrupted as you lose the added convenience that a microwave brings. 

Get peace of mind and convenience with a home warranty from Cinch Home Services. Check out the Cinch Appliances plan. It covers all components and parts of built-in microwaves up to a certain value — so when they unexpectedly break down, you can protect your budget and get quality repair or replacement services with the warranty. 

Access the coverage you need for your home with Cinch by requesting a free quote today.


Learn more about the life expectancy of your microwave to help you decide when it might be time to replace it.