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My Microwave is Dead [moved from DC]

We have a 15 year old GE Spacemaker microwave that is built in under the cabinet above the stove. We had a brief power outage that zapped it. Even after I flipped the circuit breaker nothing at all shows on the display panel. Verified that the socket is good by plugging something else into it and verified that it is the microwave by plugging it into another outlet. The owner's manual is no help and GE website just says to make a service appointment. Is there an internal fuse or something that can be checked. Any suggestions?

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  1. Microwave oven repair is not DIY territory. Call the service people.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      I beg to differ. Microwaves are high-tech, but fairly simple machines. Especially since the stirring fans seem to be a thing of the past. They are a (maybe) stirring fan, a magnetron, and (maybe) a turntable base. I have very little electronics experience but what I have is good instruction from bmets.

    2. I've read a lot of articles on when to repair and when to replace and the life expectancy of appliances. Most of ours were much older than the average life expectancy, thus all were replaced during the kitchen remodel. Most of what I have seen where they have a chart on repair or replace, they suggest you replace long before the appliance has reached its life expectancy. It's just a matter of simple economics and the cost of repairs vs the cost of new. From what I can find on microwaves, the life expectancy is 8 to 11 years, since you have exceeded that by a considerable amount already, I wouldn't hesitate to replace that microwave.

      Along with the economics of replacement, they also make a case for the technological advances you can take advantage of when you replace an appliance. I don't know specifically how this applies to microwaves, but for most appliances I can see the advantages.

      Since it looks like you can get a new GE Spacemaker for under $250, it's not likely worth a service call. If there is a blown fuse, that is user replaceable, it should be in the owners manual. Checking the GE parts list there is a fuse for $35, but no idea if that's for your specific micorwave. If you are determined to DIY the repair, go to http://www.repairclinic.com/ I have used them a number of times for repair advice and parts.

      1 Reply
      1. Do not even think of repairing a microwave oven yourself. Even when the oven is disconnected from the a/c supply there are internal capacitors that can retain a charge for a long time. Touching one of them means instant death.

        1. Could just be an internal fuse that blew (not all have them). But if you don't know what your doing wouldn't attempt trying to find it.

          1. Hi, maple01:

            I'm a cheapskate, so maybe this advice isn't for you...

            I would take it to an appliance repair place (needn't even be the factory-authorized facility) and ask if they will check for the cause of the failure without charge, and then quote you a price for a fix. They might do that for free, or charge a fixed fee, maybe $20-$50.

            If it's a fuse, you're golden, and it will be cost effective. If it's a power supply that got fried, probably not. Even if they tell you it's something expensive, tell them to please look at it again "before I come to pick it up". You might be surprised how easily it gets fixed.


            9 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Quite apart from the fact that microwaves ovens contain internal components that can be lethal even when the machine is turned off, I agree with others that these devices are not worth repairing anyway.

              1. re: kagemusha49

                Hi, Kagemusha

                With respect, these are appliances, not unexploded ordnance. I was merely suggesting a route to determine whether it is economical to fix it. Until you know, you cannot judge whether that is a true or false economy.

                The Spacesaver may not be so easily replaceable in terms of shape, controls, size and finish, and/or may well be liked. Besides, my recommendation was to take it to an EOD squad anyway. ;)


                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Kaleo, I always love reading your replies. (I need to follow you) And I respect you for being green. Let's try to keep one less appliance out of the landfill, right?

                  The only thing I would add is to *call* the appliance repair place first, before you try removing the microwave from its perch.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    With respect, household appliances that have internal capacitors that can retain 5000 volt charges for a long time after the power is turned off need to be treated carefully. They are quite capable of killing the ignorant and careless instantly. This also used to be true of TVs 40 years ago. So, whenever someone talks casually if rooting around inside a microwave at random looking for a fuse, I feel obliged to issue a warning. BTW if anyone wonders how a device connected to 110V power supply can store power at 5000V - just take my word for it Okay?

                2. re: kaleokahu

                  Hi Kaleo,
                  I'll contest, I'm as cheap as anyone, I just replaced a 30 year old oven, 25 year old washer and dryer and and an electric coil stovetop that was at least that old. I donated the 15 year old dishwasher to a church. I've fixed all of these myself at one time or another. If you are a serious DIYer then you could take down the over range microwave and take it in for service, otherwise you are looking at a house call. Most if not all repair shops charge a bench fee just to take a look at an appliance if you bring it in, all repair shops have a fee for a house call and that's likely in the $50 + range befroe they even touch your appliance. It's $50 if all they have to do is plug it in. I could see a case where after spending near $100 for a repair, a 15 year old microwave could loose the power supply next week. This is certianly not to say it might not be worth saving, but the older it gets the greater the risk is its demise is just around the corner. It's kind of like putting a new head gasket on a car with 250 thousand miles on it, it's more expensive than the cars value.

                  1. re: mikie

                    Hey I have no problem with removing the microwave and taking it in for service (although I think it makes more sense to buy a new one). I just don't want people messing around inside the microwave oven.

                    1. re: mikie

                      Hi, mikie:

                      I have 3 microwaves, 2 less than 5 years old and the third one is at least 45. The first 2 are PsOS. IF the Radar Range goes before I do, it's getting the head gasket treatment.

                      I've had decent success with talking repair places (especially indie ones) into giving me a little free checkup. I usually promise that if they do, AND they can fix it for less than $X, I'll have them do the work. Many good repair people need the work right now, too. Aren't you one of us balance-of-trade guys?


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Hi Kaleo,

                        You are obviously a better negotiateor than I. I have a lot of stuff from before it was all made in China and I'm inclined to fix it if at all possible and companies don't make that easy in most cases. I had a tile saw and the bearings in the universal motor went out, the company doesn't sell replacement bearings only a new motor assembly at about 2/3 the cost of a new saw. I was eventually able to get bearings at a bearing supply house for less than the gas it took to drive there, otherwise, I would have jsut bought a new saw. I don't typically find it economical to repair small appliances unless you can figure out how to DIY. I took a pressure washer I barrowed to be repaired (long story) and the shop wanted more to fix it, they were just going to replace the pump, than the cost of a new one. I eventually figured out what was wrong and fixed it myself for under $10, about a $250 savings.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Is the 45 year old one the equivaent of a mid-'50s cadillac front or back end? Because my In-laws' first microwave was a flat-out art object, in retrospect.

                    2. The new and better one you will purchase for less than the cost to repair your worn out, ancient, fully depreciated, hunk-o-junk one will bring a smile to you and a giddyup to your leftovers. Just do it.

                      1. Microwave + 15 years old = shop for a new one in my mind. There have been a few feature advances in that time that you might like anyway. The fee for service call would be a significant ways towards the cost a new machine, and even if you carried it in somewhere I think you'd be up against at least 50 bucks just to diagnose. If you can find for sure there's a fuse and for sure where to replace it, maybe, but heck after 15 years it seems just as likely that something failed. I've seen them fail sooner.

                        1. I sold and our store repaired appliances for over 25 years. There is always an internal fuse on microwave ovens and that is most likely the problem. Trouble is that an over the range oven is a bear to replace since the oven must come out. The owners manual might not tell you how to replace the fuse, but not to worry. It is easy. Eveery microwave I have looked at has the fuse in an easy to access place. Now here's the larger picture. A 15 year old microwave oven is old. It probably has less than 1000 watts which is, by today's standards, weak. If it were mine I would definitely replace it with a new model having over 1000 watts of power. Your popcorn will come out much better. If a microwave is an important appliance to you, replace it with a Panasonic that has "inverter" technology. With that, your power levels are true levels. A Panasonic oven on power level 5 uses a true 50% of full power. ANY other manufacturer (except some GE models) will sinply use high power for less time. That is a huge difference when cooking or reheating. I will only use Panasonic until their patent runs out.

                          1. I repaired one microwave that was given to me, simple fix of flipping a roughed up plastic washer.

                            I have a couple more that I need to check out for funky noises. I was plant mechanic, and I do have the meters , and other tools to do some diagnostic work. It disturbs me that so much of what is sold today is disposable. Just so much scrap, and landfill material.

                            For me new isn't always better, especially the made in China toss it when it breaks in a couple of years crap. My toaster is a Sunbeam T-20 made in 1950, and I have several other made in USA items that are older than I am. If you do replace it, buy quality.