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How Long Do Microwaves Last

Oleg Chudnovski, CEO

Technically Reviewed by Oleg Chudnovski, CEO on Mar 20, 2024 | Written by Oleg Chudnovski, CEO

A microwave is an integral attribute of a modern kitchen. It is used in every house to a greater or lesser extent. Ease of use, compactness, practicality, and time-saving contributed to their popularity. If some of us use the microwave only to defrost and heat food, then for others, it is a familiar assistant in the preparation of a wide variety of dishes. From this article, you will learn in which year of use do microwave ovens wear out, how to test if yours is still safe to use, and much more.

What Year Did Microwaves Come Out?

The very first kitchen appliance resembling modern microwave ovens was sold in the USA back in 1947. That device was named Radarange, because the technology it used to heat the food came from military radars. These devices were only found in restaurants and cafeterias for many years, as they were too big to fit in a typical family kitchen with their six-foot height and weight of over 750 lb. On top of that, these cookers’ cost of almost $5,000 (which equals $66,000 in modern money) was way too much, even for a well-off household. This is why microwave ovens weren’t trendy till the late 1970s, and it took a lot of changes to happen.

The invention of the turntable plate massively boosted the popularity of the new cooker type. The first unit for residential use was sold by Amana in 1964, and by 1997, this appliance could be found in 1 out of 10 American kitchens.  

How Long Should a Microwave Last?

The average life of a microwave lasts up to seven years, sometimes more. The first thing that goes out of order in a microwave is the magnetron. Most often, it breaks if someone puts a metal object inside the microwave or a cup or plate with metallic paint decor on it. 

Proper care of the microwave:

  • keep the microwave oven clean;
  • do not install it near the refrigerator;
  • do not close the ventilation outlets;
  • be cautious while cleaning the touch control panel.

There are different ways to check how strong your microwave is and do microwaves lose power over time. The most straightforward test is to put a glass of cold water in the oven. When turning on the power at the level of 700–800 watts, the water should start boiling within 2 minutes. If this does not happen, the stove is no longer safe to use. Chances are, it is passing waves outside and causing harm to people nearby. The heating of the oven door may also confirm this. The most reliable way of checking is a microwave detector that will let you know when to replace a microwave.

Manufacturers claim that proper operation and regular care of household appliances significantly extend the period of safe operation for up to 10 years. 

Critical Principles of Microwave Using

But how often should you replace your microwave? To know this, you need to understand the principle of operation of the microwave oven. To begin with, it should be noted that the entire operation of this household appliance is based on interaction with water molecules, many of which are present in any product.

The laws of physics play an important role in cooking food in a microwave oven. The oven’s waves make molecules move faster. When moving, water molecules collide with each other, releasing heat.

However, despite such physical processes, which are justified from a scientific point of view, the microwave oven is not able to spread heat. In reality, it heats only the edges, as the waves can’t get inside the product. After that, another principle comes into play – the principle of heat conduction. Thanks to this, the heat that appears at the edges of the product spreads to the central part of its structure.

What Are the Signs That a Microwave Is Going Bad?

Here are the most common signs microwave is dying:

  • It smells like burned plastic.
  • Cracking or humming noises.
  • Unresponsive or stubborn control buttons.
  • The turntable isn’t moving.
  • The door won’t stay closed unless it is duct-taped in place.

And, of course, if you ask yourself, ‘why is my microwave smoking?’ every time you turn it on, it is a clear indication that you need to buy a new one. Please be aware that any kind of smoke coming out of your cooker is not normal and needs your urgent attention! Especially if it smells like burnt plastic. 

If you have purchased your oven from an off-brand manufacturer, the smoke coming out of it can be toxic, as those firms often use cheap uncertified materials. 

Basic Safety Rules You Need To Remember

Taking into account the effect of the waves emitted by the oven on our bodies, you have to follow such rules to use the microwave safely:

  • Avoid being near the device during its operation.
  • Do not operate an oven that is faulty or has a damaged casing.
  • Limit the amount of microwaved products in your diet, especially those that have been processed several times.
  • Make sure that the ventilation openings are not blocked by objects placed on the stove or against your furniture or interior parts.
  • Do not use metal cookware or anything with metalized elements or patterns.
  • Do not turn on the oven when it’s empty.
  • Do not cook eggs in their shells! Before cooking eggs without shells or other products in the shell, pierce the shell to avoid an explosion.
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It is best to install the stove on a flat surface at a height of 90 cm above the floor. The distance between its rear wall and the furniture or the wall should be 15 cm. And to the edge of the surface on which the microwave is placed – at least 10 cm.

If the service life of the unit has ended, but the device remains in working order, you do not need to get rid of such equipment immediately. If you are wondering for how long are old microwaves safe, the answer is – until they break down.

A Few Words To Wrap Up

Every day, many times, we are faced with the need to cook or heat something before eating. Of course, someone can use fire, as our ancient ancestors did. Fortunately, you and I live in a civilized world where most people have microwaves, and other appliances that help in cooking, along with gas stoves or electric ovens. However‌, only some know that the same utensils cannot be used for different types of household appliances. 

To ensure your microwave’s longest possible service life, use it in compliance with the safety standards outlined by the user’s manual, clean it with all the appropriate precautions, and only use microwavable plates and containers. Proper and consistent microwave oven maintenance is equally important.  Also, you need to remember that turning a microwave on with a metal object inside will lead to serious damage and may even cause a house fire.

FAQ

Can a microwave be repaired?

Yes. But you should only rely on certified technicians from the manufacturer’s official service center. The list of those centers is usually available on the brand’s webpage and also in your warranty agreement papers.

How much does it cost to repair a microwave?

Microwave repair can cost you anywhere between $75 and $300, depending on the type of failure and whether there are faulty spare parts to be replaced. The cheapest ones to replace are bulbs and fuses, and the most expensive one is the control panel. 

Is it worth fixing a microwave?

If your appliance is over three years old and the repair cost exceeds $100, consider buying a new one instead. With proper care, a modern device from a reputable manufacturer will last you up to a decade with no issues.

Is it bad if your microwave has rust inside?

Rust on the inside walls of your cooker will not let microwaves reflect properly off those surfaces. This will result in uneven food heating. Also, the particles of rust will be transferred to your food and eventually get inside your stomach. Those particles are not good for your health and, in larger quantities, can even cause serious harm. If the rust is located near the seals or door, it can lead to waves leaking on the outside. Rusty metal can’t contain radiation properly, that is why being in the same room with such a unit during its work cycle can jeopardize your well-being. 

What is the most common cause of microwave failure?

If your microwave is not starting, the most common reason for that is a broken door switch. Smart electronics won’t let you use the appliance unless the door is fully shut, as the direct impact of microwaves is harmful to the human body. The other reason can be the failure of one of the electronic parts. To fix the problem, contact the authorized service center.

Is it bad to run microwave empty?

With nothing in the way of microwaves to absorb them, they will reflect off the inner walls over and over again, creating so-called standing waves. In simple terms, this is like a very powerful vibration that is extremely damaging to your microwave, and it will be irreparably destroyed. 

How many microwaves are sold each year?

The number of microwave ovens sold around the world keeps rapidly growing. Annually, over 13 million units are sold in the US and over 30 million all around the world. The global microwave market was worth $42.94 billion in 2022.

Date of page creation: March 20, 2024

Page update date: March 20, 2024

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