You’re in the middle of your morning rush, and you pop a bowl of oatmeal into the microwave for a quick breakfast. Your fingers automatically key in the same sequence that you’ve used many mornings before, only this time, you don’t hear the appliance’s familiar hum.  Your microwave isn’t working . . . but why? Here are some common microwave problems that you may encounter:

The microwave doesn’t turn on:

  • First, make sure you’ve remembered to press the “start” button after you’ve selected the function or cooking time. Failing to simply hit “start” happens more often than you may think, especially when you’re in a hurry. If that doesn’t work, hit the “stop” or “cancel” button to erase any programming, timing, or delay feature that may accidentally have been set, and try again.
  • Power may not be getting to the appliance. Check to see that it’s plugged in, then check your electrical panel box to see if a circuit breaker switch has flipped or if a fuse has blown.
  • The microwave door may not be completely shut, or the door switch may not be working correctly. Microwaves will not work unless the door is shut properly and the switch connects firmly to signal the oven to start. That’s why you should be careful to never slam a microwave oven’s door, which can damage the switch.

The carousel or turntable doesn’t move.

Check under the turntable to see if a piece of food or food residue is causing it to jam, or if the rollers underneath are stuck.

The microwave doesn’t heat its contents

The best way to find out if your microwave is heating properly is to test it with a cup of water. Using a microwave-safe mug or dish, put about a cup of water inside the microwave oven and turn it on for about 30 seconds.  Using an oven mitt or other hand protection, remove the cup and carefully test the water to see if it has heated, taking care not to burn your finger or hand.  If it isn’t hot, repeat the process and check again. If the water isn’t hot after two or three tries, your microwave is not heating properly. The cause could be several things, including:

  • A malfunctioning diode
  • Burned out high-voltage capacitors and transformers
  • Overheated thermoprotector

Consult your manufacturer’s instructions for the location of these parts and for instructions on how to replace them. You may need to call a qualified technician for help, or in some cases, it may be more cost effective to purchase a new microwave.

You notice an unpleasant odor during and after the microwave’s use.

The interior may need cleaning, so first try wiping down the interior. If your appliance is particularly dirty or has a lot of grease and grime buildup, try this microwave cleaning hack.  After you’ve cleaned it, if you still notice a burning smell, particularly coupled with some strange sounds, you may have some faulty wiring in the control panel.  Call an electrician, qualified repair technician, or consider purchasing a new microwave if this is the case. 

The keypad isn't functioning.

Place something inside a microwave-safe container to heat, such as water, close the door, and press each button individually to determine if any of the buttons are operating. If the control panel needs replacing, you can attempt a do-it-yourself fix or use the Frontdoor® app to speak with an Expert.

The microwave light burns out.

Although it shouldn’t cause your microwave not to heat, a burned-out bulb can make viewing the oven contents difficult. Changing a microwave light bulb is fairly simple. You can purchase a replacement bulb at most hardware and home stores.

The timer doesn’t “ding” when the cooking cycle is complete. 

Check yours to see if you may have inadvertently silenced the alarm function.

Refer to your microwave’s manufacturer’s instructions for other troubleshooting tips or to see a diagram of your oven. Like all home systems and appliances, microwave ovens can eventually break down and malfunction due to normal wear and tear. 


Ready to take the next step in home ownership? Frontdoor offers a variety of ways to get things done. Whether you prefer connecting via video chat with trade industry Experts, receiving a list of vetted Pros for repairs, or utilizing our how-to library to DIY, we've got you covered.

With the Frontdoor App, completing tasks has never been easier, so why wait? Open the Frontdoor and start taking control of your home repairs. Download the app today!

Frontdoor assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.