Normally, a microwave makes a light humming sound when in use. But when this humming gets louder than usual and becomes hard to ignore, you need to address it right away. Besides being a nuisance, microwave noise can also be a sign of a looming breakdown.
Noise in a microwave is caused by the following parts:
- The cooling fan
- The magnetron
- The capacitor
- The transformer
- The diode
While the magnetron is often blamed for the noise, it doesn’t get loud unless it’s poorly secured, in which case it’ll vibrate against walls of its chamber.
More than often, the “blowing” sound you hear when heating your meal is a result of your microwave’s cooling fan continuously blowing over the magnetron to cool it down as it releases the microwaves.
In the case of a characteristic hum, it’s due to the diode, transformer, and capacitor handling the electrical energy from the power source and stepping it up to power up your microwave.
If you hear any other type of noise such as clanking, grinding, or whirring, act immediately because this signifies a failing magnetron, a worn-out turntable motor, or a stirrer engine that’s breaking down.
How to Make a Microwave Quieter
Typically, electrical appliances come with manufacturers’ inbuilt settings that can help correct basic anomalies. So before you start thinking of repairs and other complicated solutions to a noisy microwave, there is a requirement to first try out these settings.
To make a microwave quieter, first try the inbuilt settings such as refreshing of sensors, hard resetting, and engaging of the silent mode. If the noise persists, identify and rectify the source starting with the motor drive followed by the drive coupler, magnetron, and so on.
The rest of this article will explain these hacks in great detail and provide actionable maintenance tips to help keep your microwave quiet. Read on for more.
1. Refresh the Sensors
Sometimes, your microwave may continue beeping annoyingly even when there is no food in it. This is usually because its sensors keep on detecting something in its oven.
To address this, simply refresh your microwave sensors using the following steps:
- Put a cup of salty or sugary water in the oven.
- Adjust the heat to the lowest one setting.
- Let the microwave run for at least 15 seconds.
- Remove the cup.
- Press the CLEAR/STOP button.
Once you have refreshed the microwave, the incessant beeping sound should stop, making your microwave quieter. If it doesn’t, the sensors aren’t the problem.
2. Hard Reset Your Microwave
After doing the “quick break routine,” you may find that the beeping sound has not stopped, even when there is no food in the oven. In this case, try doing a hard reset by simply unplugging the microwave and waiting for 5 minutes before plugging it back.
A hard reset gets rid of extra electricity from the microwave’s capacitor and forces the sensors back to the original state.
3. Engage the Silent Mode
In case your microwave is beeping loudly, switching to Silent Mode can help address the noise problem. Interestingly, even though most modern microwaves come with the Silent feature, some manufacturers don’t clearly indicate this. As such, you might not see the Silent Mode option on your microwave at first glance.
But with a bit of searching, you can find this option on the keypad, although it may be indicated as “Sound” or “Volume.” On some smart models, you’ll find it on the remote controls with the same labeling.
While using the Silent button is the easiest way to mute a microwave, some models simply don’t have such a button. On such models, you may find that some buttons have dual functions, meaning you’ll have to experiment a little.
In most cases, long-pressing the “Cancel” or “0” button grants access to sound programming, from where you can adjust the sound settings and silence your microwave.
Whichever way you do it, putting your microwave on Silent Mode can make it quieter. If it doesn’t, the noise problem isn’t related to your microwave’s settings.
4. Replace the Motor Drive
The motor is used to rotate the turntable that subsequently rotates the tray or guides the roller on which it sits. As it rotates, an undesirable grinding noise can emanate from the drive motor. If you notice odd noise from the tray area, chances are the motor drive has a problem and needs to be checked.
How do you access the motor drive?
If you are an enthusiast of DIY, you can easily reach the motor through the bottom part of the microwave regardless of its make. And once the bottom panel is removed, then you can remove the mounting screws and the two wires holding the drive motor in place and replace it.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a job for everyone. If you don’t have the technical know-how to identify the various parts of a microwave, you can cause some damage even when following a detailed guide. So if you open up your microwave and can’t tell which part goes where; leave it at that and call an expert.
5. Clean or Replace the Drive Coupler
If the noise problem persists even after replacing the motor drive, shift your focus to the coupler, the part that connects the motor to the tray. In most models, the coupler is a three-pronged part that resembles the center of a nuclear symbol. It is on top of this that the tray sits and is held in position by protrusions on its bottom.
When in operation, the coupler rotates the rollers, which in turn, rotate the tray. If the coupler is damaged or full of dirt, it produces an odd noise that can be annoying.
Different models have varying ways of accessing the coupler. While you can simply pull out the coupler in some models, others require removing the motor before accessing the coupler. If your microwave model is in the latter category, you’ll need an expert to help you out unless you know a thing or two about electronics repair.
6. Replace the Magnetron
The magnetron generates heat to the microwave and produces the subdued humming sound you hear from your microwave when in use. If your microwave produces humming that is louder than normal or is making a buzzing sound, chances are, there’s a problem with the magnetron.
Unfortunately, being a critical part of the microwave, it is hard to access the magnetron. To successfully replace it, you will have to completely dismantle the cabinet of your microwave, which is easier said than done. Plus, because it carries a lot of voltage, there’s a risk of electrical shocks if not handled with the utmost care.
So if you’re aren’t handy with electrical appliances, replacing the magnetron isn’t something you should take the DIY route with. And even with good knowledge about electrical appliances in general, you need to be careful.
Before you replace the magnetron, you need to completely discharge the high voltage capacitor to make it safe to handle.
To discharge the capacitor, diffuse the electricity by using a well insulated screwdriver. Simply touch the screwdriver to one terminal, and then slide it slowly and patiently along the surface until you touch the other terminal.
If the discharge was successful, you would hear a loud pop. Don’t panic; that is normal for this process.
7. Replace the High Voltage Diode
Your microwave can be noisy as a result of a faulty high voltage diode, the part that supplies power to the magnetron. If functioning abnormally, it can cause a loud humming/buzzing sound or even lead to uneven or intermittent heating of the microwave. The high voltage diode is also responsible for the popping sounds that indicate an electrical discharge.
Before testing this part, discharge the high voltage capacitor then use a Multimeter to test the diode. If the results show that the high voltage diode is faulty, you need to replace it to deal with the noise it generates.
8. Repair the Cooling Fan
Every microwave has an inbuilt cooling fan that helps regulate the magnetron temperature. Like any fan, when damaged or faulty, it has the potential to create a variety of strange noises.
To access the cooling fan of your microwave, you’ll need to remove the outer cabinet of your microwave and locate it. Once you find the fan, inspect it for any damage or any foreign objects. Chances are it’ll be covered with dust even if you keep your home fairly clean because fans tend to attract dust. You may also discover ambient grease or tiny food particles.
If there’s accumulated grime on your fan, remove the blades and clean them. In the case of malfunction related to wear and tear, you’ll need to replace the fan using this simple guide.
9. Buy a New Microwave
If you’ve tried all the above tricks, but your microwave is still louder than normal, it might be time to buy a new one. Although this sounds like accepting defeat, it’s the most permanent solution, especially if the noise problem keeps recurring and the repair costs don’t justify keeping the microwave.
But before you buy, you need to consider a few things.
When choosing the size of a microwave, consider the space available in your kitchen, and ensure that your new purchase can fit. Whether you decide to go for the over-the-range microwave or countertop model, the available space matters a lot.
If you want a fast-cooking microwave, consider picking one with a higher wattage. In addition to reducing your cooking time, high-wattage microwaves distribute the heat to the food evenly, which is great for energy efficiency.
In case you need a benchmark in this regard, 1000 watts is a great place to start.
As you seek to replace that noisy microwave that is beyond repair, consider the depth of your pocket. Typically, quality microwaves from reputable brands come at a premium, so keep that in mind when shopping. Also, built-in or over-the-range microwaves are generally pricier than their countertop counterparts.
The microwave you choose to replace the noisy one in your kitchen should be safe for everyone to use. It should be user-friendly and the stove accessible. If you have children, you’ll also want to choose something that comes with child lock features.
Maintenance Tips for a Quieter Microwave
Repairing a noisy microwave can be costly, and can sometimes mean investing in a new one. So if you managed to make your quieter using some of the hacks in this guide, you’d want to keep things that way in the long run.
Here are some tips to help with that.
Keep Your Microwave Clean
Cleaning your microwave regularly prevents spilled foods from clogging the coupler. When the coupler is malfunctioning, it will produce the undesired noise that will result in repair costs.
How to Clean the Microwave From the Inside
- Mix 1 cup of water and lemon, lime, or orange juice into a microwave recommended bowl.
- Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Place the bowl in the microwave oven.
- Turn on the microwave on high heat.
- Let the mixture boil for some minutes, until the windows steam up.
- Stop the microwave and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
- Open the door, remove the bowl, and using a sponge, wipe the inside clean.
How to Clean the Greasy Doors
- Dip a sponge in a mixture of water and baking soda.
- Wipe with a damp cloth or sponge to rinse.
- For a greasy window, clean with a mixture of vinegar and water at a ratio of 1:1.
- Rise and wipe dry.
- For heavy grease build-up, wipe your microwave door down with an all-purpose, grease-cutting.
- Use a sponge to apply the cleaner to prevent it from getting into the vent holes.
Bonus Tip: Getting Rid of Burnt Smell
In case you want to get rid of strong odors like that of burnt popcorn, remove any residues and put an odor-absorbing gel inside the oven until you use it again. But if you’re dealing with light odors such as the aroma of spicy foods, you can simply leave the door open to air the oven or put a bowl of baking soda to absorb the smell while the door is closed.
Why is this important?
Simple: The burnt smell of previous foods lingering in your microwave can be transferred to the next food, which won’t be pleasant, to say the least. Also, every time you use the microwave, the foods and liquids spilled in the oven will continue to cook, which, while seemingly insignificant, will add up on your electricity bill.
And even if energy efficiency isn’t exactly at the top of your priorities, you can always bet on food remains to produce an unpleasant smell.
Don’t Microwave an Empty Oven
When you switch on an empty microwave, its radio waves cannot be absorbed by anything in the oven, and this destroys the appliance in the long run.
Usually, it is the magnetron that gets damaged first. A magnetron tube generates electromagnetic radio waves that cook or heat your food or boil liquids. These waves force the water molecules to vibrate, creating friction that results in the heat that cooks the food.
Now, if there is no water or liquids to absorb the waves, these waves are redirected to the magnetron. If the magnetron absorbs more waves than it produces, it gets destroyed. Without this vital part, your microwave might fail entirely, or heat food inefficiently. And since this will eventually mean replacing your magneton or even buying a new microwave, you’ll want to avoid the common mistake of microwaving an empty oven.
Don’t Slam the Door
When in a hurry, you are likely to quickly slam the microwave door. While it might not happen instantly, this will eventually destroy its latches and blow the fuse.
In addition to being gentle on the door, it’s always recommended that you select “CANCEL” before opening the door to retrieve food from the microwave.
Use Microwave Recommended Containers
When heating food in your microwave, always use the recommended plastic containers. To figure out which plastic containers are safe for the microwave, check the bottom for the Microwave Safe symbol. Ideally, you’ll see a microwave shape with three wavy lines to indicate that the container is safe to use.
If you don’t see the symbol, just don’t use the container in your microwave because it might melt, which won’t be good news for your health and the machine. And even without melting, some plastics can release harmful chemicals that will eventually find their way to your food.
Always Cover Your Food
Use microwave-safe plastics or container lids to cover your food in your microwave to prevent food splashes during the microwave process. Fatty foods splashing in the microwave results in build-ups that will eventually destroy your microwave.
Never place metallic containers in the microwave.
Metallic materials will bounce off the microwaves in the oven and eventually heat up the interior, which can damage parts such as the high voltage diode.
If you’re struggling with a noisy microwave, try:
- Refreshing the sensors
- Hard resetting the microwave
- Engaging the silent mode
If the above tricks don’t work, consider more technical solutions such as:
- Replacing the motor drive
- Cleaning or replacing the drive coupler
- Replacing the magnetron
- Replacing the high voltage diode
- Repairing the cooling fan
Of course, if none of the hacks work or the noise problem keeps recurring, it might be time to replace your microwave. If one of them works, you’ll want to keep your microwave quieter in the long run by:
- Keeping the microwave clean
- Using the recommended containers
- Not microwaving an empty oven
- Always covering your food
- Not slamming the microwave door
- Hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu: The Magnetron
- Partselect.com: General Electric Microwave Motors
- Partselect.com: Microwave Diode Repair
- Wikipedia: Multimeter
- Youtube: Microwave Cooling Fan Motor Replacement
- Hunker.com: Will Running an Empty Microwave Ruin It?
- Health.harvard.edu: Is Plastic a Threat to Your Health?