Microwaves certainly have come a long way from the one-setting tabletop models I remember in the mid-1970s. Contemporary microwaves are much more attractive and have more features than ever, especially high-end microwaves that include such features as sensors and metal racks for cooking multiple items.
One thing that hasn’t changed is a microwave oven’s vulnerability. They still break down when you handle them stupidly. Here are four things you should avoid doing.
Run it empty
Do you use your microwave as a timer? This is never a good idea. According to “Ask the Van” at the University of Illinois Physics Department (How do Microwaves work?), a microwave oven works by pulling the water molecules inside foods and liquids back and forth. If you use the microwave oven as a timer and run it empty, there is nowhere for the waves to go except back into the oven where it can damage the transmitter (called a “magnetron”).
No metal clips, metal handles, twist ties, fine china etc
While these waves can easily pass through objects like paper, plastic and glass, irregularly shaped metal objects deflect these waves which can cause them to spark. Metal clips, twist ties, handles on Asian takeout boxes, and silver or gold rimmed china are a few examples of metal that can spark in the microwave and eventually break the magnetron.
Don’t use the metal racks unless necessary
Even though I knew that metal didn’t belong in the microwave, I thought that the metal racks that came with my GE Adora were OK to leave in place. Wrong! After spending $250 to replace the magnetron in my microwave, I learned from the appliance repair guy that the metal racks are only to be used when heating up or cooking multiple platters of food.
Don’t microwave things that shouldn’t be microwaved
The rule of thumb at my house is that if it isn’t food, it doesn’t belong in the microwave. Non food items run the risk of exploding or sparking in the microwave which can also damage the works. If you don’t believe me, read Fun with Microwaves which will show you what happens when microwaving items that shouldn’t be microwaved.
More by this contributor:
5 small kitchen appliances that will save you money
How to replace the drip pans on your range
How to tighten the handle of a stainless steel refrigerator