How to get the most life out of your microwave oven

How to get the most life out of your microwave oven

Key Tips to Remember

  • Clean the interior
  • Close the door gently
  • Avoid heating water by itself
  • Don't run an empty microwave
  • Make sure your item is microwave safe

Microwave ovens are almost ubiquitous in the U.S. because of their short cooking times and convenience. Doing repair work on the electrical parts of your microwave is inadvisable — their complexity and high energy use mean that it is dangerous for anyone other than a professional to work with them — but there are some things you should keep in mind to get the most life out of your appliance. A Cinch home protection plan can help to ensure that your microwave is there for you when you need it, for years to come.

Clean the interior

Over time, splashes of liquid and tiny bits of food inevitably get left behind in your microwave. This can cause the unit to smell bad, and even worse, it can eventually damage the appliance's interior. The electromagnetic waves that your microwave oven uses to heat food will increase the temperature of anything containing water, including these bits of leftover food. This diminishes the efficiency of your appliance and can cause burns to the unit's interior over time. Be sure to regularly clean your microwave to keep it healthy and smelling fresh.

Close the door gently

It is important not to slam your microwave door — and not just because your mother said so. There are usually three switches in the door mechanism of your appliance, and these need to be closed in a particular order. A slammed door can potentially cause them to close in a different order, which may result in a blown fuse internally.

Avoid heating water by itself

While it may seem like the microwave is the perfect way to heat water, there is a potentially dangerous condition called "superheating" that makes this inadvisable. Microwave ovens are tuned to the frequency of the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen in water, causing them to vibrate rapidly and create heat. A still glass of water in a microwave — especially one that doesn't include a spinning platter — can reach temperatures far higher than the boiling point of water without appearing to boil. As soon as the glass is touched, however, the water will suddenly and violently boil. While this won't harm your microwave, it can cause burns to anyone in range.

Don't run an empty microwave

In addition to avoiding plain water in the microwave, it is important never to run an empty microwave. Whether it’s by mistake or by using the timing function of a microwave, many people will run an empty microwave and damage their appliance. According to RepairClinic, the reason for this is that microwave energy has nowhere to go in an empty microwave. Instead, the electromagnetic waves bounce around inside and can cause the device's magnetron to overheat. The result is an extremely expensive repair bill.

Make sure your item is microwave safe

There are two important reasons to ensure that everything you put into your appliance is microwave safe. The first is in regards to heating. Many glass and plastic products are not microwave safe in that they can’t be heated by the electromagnetic waves that your unit uses to cook your food. If they’re put in, their plastic can melt, or their glass can overheat. Neither is a good outcome. If you ever take a glass or plate out of a microwave and feel that it is hotter than it should be, it is probably not microwave safe. The second problem is in regards to reflection. Dishes with metal parts — especially gold, silver or aluminum — can reflect microwave energy in unexpected directions. The result? Oftentimes, it can cause your microwave to overheat and break.

Other considerations

In order to be sure that your microwave oven lasts as long as it possibly can, there are a few other small things to consider. To avoid potential damage from electrical surges, it is best to plug your microwave into a surge protector. The built-in fuse in the surge protector will trigger in the event of a power fluctwwwion, saving your appliance. It is also best to use preset cooking times, as these allow the microwave to operate at maximum efficiency. Finally, remember to keep up with the parts that you can maintain, such as the light bulb, charcoal filter, turntable and exterior paint.

Microwaves are fantastic appliances that bring a lot of convenience into our lives. In order to keep yours working for years to come, it is worth taking the time to properly use and care for it. Starting with investing in a home protection plan for your appliances through Cinch. Check out our website to see how we can offer you peace-of-mind home protection with any one of our plans.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.

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