Burned-out microwave

Can A Microwave Overheat? (And how to avoid it)

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Microwaves last a long time, so you can expect to have roughly ten years of use before you need to replace them. If you have been using one for a long time, your oven may be experiencing some troubles as a result of its old age. One of those troubles is when it starts overheating. Can a microwave overheat? 

A microwave can overheat if it is not used properly. It heats food when there are water molecules. If there are no water molecules in the food, overheating might occur. Most of them have an automatic shutdown feature in case they heat up too much. It is unusual for a microwave to overheat, but if you are cooking something for a long period, it will happen.

But, is there more you need to know about the common problems with a microwave? Indeed, there it is! You might face many problems when you have been using one for a long time. So, it is better to prepare yourself for such issues. In this article, we will be tackling some of the issues for you, so keep on reading!

Why Does Your Microwave Overheat?

First things first, you need to know how a microwave works before you can understand its faults. Microwaves work by targeting water molecules to heat meals. Now, if the food that you put in is dry and has no moisture in it, there is a high chance of overheating. That is why you should never put anything in a unit that has almost no water molecules at all. 

Though it is not normal for them to overheat, cooking for a long time can cause them to heat up too much. If you are not using it correctly, you will soon face more issues than just overheating. 

This is the most common problem people face in an oven. Luckily, the majority of the ovens you use come with an automatic shutdown feature nowadays. 

Furthermore, a defective fan could also cause it to overheat. When you cook something in it, you can always hear the fan. So, when something doesn’t feel right with the fan, you can tell that something is wrong right away.

The microwave will quickly overheat and then shut down without a properly working fan to regulate the temperature.

One thing that is worth mentioning is that you can not expect an inexpensive cooking appliance to have zero faulty issues. Though they may be cheap and easier to replace, they are also more likely to overheat.

So, you should invest in a good brand when picking your microwave. Anything from LG, Whirlpool, Hamilton, Toshiba – should provide you with decent to great support. But, it’s always great to check out some customer reviews before you settle on one. Even good brands are prone to make poor design choices. So, don’t only rely on brand reputation when buying a microwave or any device for that matter. 

Can Your Microwave Start Sparking?

It can start sparking if your microwave often overheats. But, the smart thing you need to do is stay calm! Simply turn it off at the wall and do not panic. See whether you can identify the root of the problem. 

For starters, here are three main things you need to look for:

Metal debris

When there is metal debris inside the microwave, it can cause it to start sparking. The microwaves are reflected by the metal, which creates sparking. This is why no one uses tin foil or food tins in this kitchen appliance. 

Do not use metal cutlery in the microwave

It could also be something as small as a strand of steel wool that has somehow gotten inside. Make sure the microwave is free of any unwanted metal. As a result, make sure the dish you’re using to heat your meal is microwave-safe.

Wave-guide Cover

There is a small grid inside. It does exactly what its name suggests—guides the microwaves to the food. It is also designed to prevent any debris from getting stuck on the magnetron. Food particles will eventually get stuck on the waveguide as time goes on and result in sparking.

So, make sure you clean it frequently. If it does get damaged, you need to replace it as soon as possible. In fact, try cleaning the whole interior from time to time.

Rack Support

The rack support is a component of the microwave. If it gets worn out, this could cause it to start sparking. If this happens, you will have no choice but to replace it.

If none of these factors is the reason behind the sparking, you should contact a local technician straight away. You can also check why your microwave is sparking and how to fix it.

If none of these factors is the reason behind the sparking, you should contact a local technician straight away. 

Food Sparking Inside The Microwave

It is no secret that food may flash a spark once in a while when you are heating it. Bear in mind that this happens the most when you are heating dense vegetables.

You will notice sparks starting to fly around because of their higher mineral content. Even though your meal might show a few burnt spots and a smoky smell, it should be safe enough to eat.

Foods like carrots, bell peppers, spinach, green beans, and many other dense veggies are more prone to spark once inside the unit. 

It is the result of the microwaves reflecting off the minerals found in the vegetables. You can still eat them, but do not expect your meal to be heated correctly.

What To Do When Your Microwave Catches On Fire?

A general rule of thumb when your microwave catches on fire is to stay calm and composed. Although you need to be prepared and act quickly, you cannot panic. Panicking will only make things worse. The first thing you should do is try switching off the main switch on the wall and unplugging it as soon as you see a glimpse of the fire.

Unless the fire is already too bad, then it is too late to risk yourself by pulling the plug off of the socket. In the case of a fire inside the unit, don’t try to put it out by opening the door and extinguishing it. 

Not only will this increase the risk of you burning your hands, but it also allows the fire to spread almost everywhere. But always keep an extinguisher nearby to prevent such a situation from escalating.

It might not seem like the most logical decision, but wait for the fire to suffocate inside the unit first. Do not worry because it will soon die down. After the fire is too little to cause any further damage, you can open the door and put it out.

If the smoke or fire alarm is not going off in the house, do not wait and waste time. If you believe it is spreading and you are unable to stop it, contact the authorities immediately. Try doing the following if you want to avoid these risky situations in the future:

  • Read the safety instructions and guidance provided by the manufacturer and follow them.
  • Regularly clean both the interior and exterior of your microwave whenever you can.
  • Do not even think of heating items in a metal dish or container of any kind.
  • Only heat food items or meals that are safe for microwaving. See what you can and can not put in a microwave.
  • Always read the cooking instructions on the food packaging before heating them.
  • Never heat chili peppers or grapes in a microwave oven.

However, there are more ways you can stop the fire from starting in the first place. In this related article, you can find out more tips on how to avoid starting a fire in your microwave.

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