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Fix Your Microwave for Cheap

By Edited Dec 20, 2013 2 5

The built-in Jenn Air microwave in our new-to-us house recently stopped working. No buttons responded, no lights came on, even the clock didn’t work.

When we started shopping for replacement microwaves, we got an unpleasant surprise.  This unit is built-in to the wall, and matches the oven below it, so it is an uncommon size.  Also, Jenn Air is a premium brand, so instead of $200 for a more commonly available replacement, we got a quote of $1500 to $2000 to replace this one.  This was not good news at all.

So, with a non-working microwave, and nothing to lose, I started taking it apart to see if there was something simple I could fix myself, like a fuse.  It turns out I was in luck.  Obviously lots of other things might be wrong with a microwave, but it’s always best to check the simplest things first.  If your device has no functions at all, that seems like it could be a fuse. 

A word of warning: if you are not experienced taking apart electronics, don’t get in over your head.  Use common sense, make sure to unplug everything, be careful, and take pictures to remember how things go back together. This is a Jenn Air built-in, model KCRxxx, but lots of other brands use similar construction.

1. Remove the Trim Kit

Mine was held on with six screws, circled in red in the picture.

Trim Kit

2. Remove the oven From the Wall

I removed 2 screws from underneath, and then pulled the microwave part way out, and my lovely assistant unplugged it.  Then I could pull it all the way out and place it somewhere I could work on it.

3. Remove the Outer Case

It was held on by 3 screws at the rear, and slides backwards similar to a computer case.

4. Find the Fuse

I worked my way from the power cord in, until I found the fuse, and removed it. I set my multi-meter to read resistance, on the 1000 ohm scale.  A good fuse should read very close to zero resistance.  My meter jumped to the top of the scale, meaning I had a blown fuse.

Fuse Holder

5. Replace the Fuse

Be sure to match the voltage and amperage.  I bought a bag of 4 replacement fuses at Radio Shack for less than $4. Once the new fuse is in, you can plug it in and try it out.  Mine worked perfectly.

6. Re-install the Oven

Put the case back on, and put the oven and trim kit back in place. You may need an extra set of hands to plug the cord in while you hold the oven.

Give yourself a high-five! If you’re lucky like I was, you just saved yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

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Comments

Jan 12, 2014 10:13pm
shar-On
Good article and advice. We had a similar problem with an old one of ours and yes it was a fuse.
I think these are safer to work on than TV's as they have little bitey things inside them that do bite when not in use.
I worked at a TV place years ago and got caught a couple of times when the guys would yell out catch this( from memory I think it was a little condenser or something similar) And yes they do bite.
Jan 13, 2014 12:40am
Yindee
Very brave of you! I am terrified of microwave ovens in general. But I have tinkered around with normal stoves and even replaced the oven unit. My advice to amateurs is to have your repair work checked out by an electrician or friend before switching on again! (They have the multi meters and know how to use them)

The bite comes from a capacitor that stores a mean charge. Like a woman, even when they are turned off you cannot trust them.
Feb 10, 2014 9:12am
Gibbon
Good feedback.
As I said in the article, don't get in over you head, as electricity can be hazardous. Fuses are designed to be easily replaced, and are within just about anyone's ability. But if you don't feel comfortable, by all means have a more experienced person help you out.

Thanks!
Feb 10, 2015 1:56pm
Jerry_Walch
Please permit me to preface what I'm about to say that I'm a trained appliance tech. Microwave ovens, along with televisions and computer monitors, are very dangerous devices for an unskilled person to work on and one tiny slip could send you to the hospital ER or worse. Microwave ovens have a high voltage power supply that produces, on average 2,000 volts which is rectified (changed from AC to DC) which powers the magnetron tube, which generates the microwave radiation that cooks your food. The danger comes from the fact that microwave ovens contain an oil filled high voltage capacitor (the oval shaped can located right below the fuse in your picture) that can hold a charge for days, even weeks, after the oven has been unplugged. That voltage and amperage is enough to stop your heart. Modern ovens contain a bleeder resistor built in the capacitor that neutralizes the charge on the capacitor's plate when the unit is shut off, but those resistor can fail and for that reason the capacitor must be properly discharged before the oven is safe to work on. Unless one is trained to work on high voltage circuitry one should ask him or herself is the money I save by doing it myself worth my life?

Your article is well written but the lack of adequate precautions about the potential for electrocution could get a beginner seriously hurt. Just removing the oven's shell will be getting them in over their head.
Feb 12, 2015 1:59pm
Gibbon
Thanks for the feedback and the valuable advice. Capacitors can absolutely be dangerous if not respected, which is exactly why I included my blanket warning, "if you are not experienced taking apart electronics, don’t get in over your head."

That being said, this is not rocket surgery. Fuses are made to be replaceable. A beginner needs to evaluate for themselves if they feel comfortable taking apart electronics.

I've been helped out countless times by articles like this when something of mine needs fixing, and I'm trying to return the favor.
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