Can A Microwave Overheat and Shut Off?

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Can A Microwave Overheat and Shut Off

If you’re new to cooking and managing kitchen chores, you are justified to worry if your microwave can overheat and shut off. Thanks to some unpleasant incidents related to microwaves, many new cooks seem scared of using them. 

If you’re in the same boat, we have got you covered. In this guide, we will explain your microwave’s overheating mechanism and help you fix it. Stick around to know more about your microwave and its heating system.

Can A Microwave Overheat and Shut Off?

Yes, a microwave can overheat and shut off if it has a pre-built auto shut off feature. Most top-of-the-line microwaves come with reliable thermal cut-out switches to prevent overheating and ensure your device’s safety. When your microwave reaches an unbearable temperature, its heating source can cut the supply, resulting in a total shut down. However, if a microwave is not integrated with modern heating sensors, it might not shut down because of overheating. 

Good quality microwaves have integrated heating sensors to avoid overheating and heat loss. If you pre-set a microwave to a specific temperature but forget to shut it off, its sensors can do it to ensure your safety. Thermal cut-out switches prevent your microwave from reaching beyond a specified temperature and ensure it works well. 

If you run a microwave for an extended period or it is stuffed with food, it can exude heat in the surroundings. Therefore, it’s best to cook at a medium temperature and run your microwave for a limited duration to prevent this situation.

Another reason your microwave can stop working after getting overheated is its disrupted heating source. If your microwave doesn’t have a cut-out switch but still stops working, get its heating element and wiring checked. 

What Causes a Microwave to Overheat? 

Although microwaves are designed to keep the generated heat inside and emit a minimal amount of it, they can still overheat. This is why many cooks wonder if something is wrong with their microwave when it overheats.

If your microwave is feeling hotter than usual, here are a few reasons you should look into it:

  • Extended Use 

Running your microwave for an extended period will exhaust its heating source and coil, resulting in overheating. When you run your microwave for hours in one go, it’s likely to overheat and shut off because of the extreme temperature.

Since the advanced microwaves have integrated heat sensors, they react to extreme temperatures by cutting the heating source’s power supply. So, if your microwave shuts off on its own after extended use, there’s nothing to worry about. 

  • Microwave Fan Failure

Microwaves have exhaust fans in their rear compartments to rotate hot air and maintain a steady cooking temperature. When your microwave’s fan stops working, its heating coil will still do the job, but you’ll notice overheating in the unit.

Microwave fans can stop working with time, resulting in overheating and reduced cooking capacity. If your microwave has stopped making any sound while on, its venting fan can be the culprit.

  • Faulty Microwave Sensors

When a microwave’s heat sensors stop working, they don’t alarm the heating source if the temperature goes beyond a certain level. If you often notice that your microwave tells the wrong temperature reading when you pre-heat it, its heating sensors can be at fault. Sometimes your microwave’s heating element and vents work fine, but its cut-out switch still doesn’t work because of the faulty sensors. 

  • Dry Food 

A microwave heats water molecules in your food to thoroughly cook it. But when you put an airtight food container or dry food in the microwave, there’s no moisture for its heating system to pick up. This situation can cause overheating and occasional sparks in your microwave.  

  • Thin Insulation 

All good-quality microwaves come with thickly insulated walls and well-protected heating elements. But if your microwave isn’t from a credible manufacturer, you can often face heat rising from its body. When that’s the case, your microwave insulation and construction material are to be blamed. 

What to do if a Microwave Overheats?

Now that we understand your microwave can often overheat and stop working let’s find a solution to this problem. Unless your microwave is in tatters, you can follow more than one step to prevent its overheating problem.

  1. Unplug the Microwave: Start with the obvious. If you feel heat waves while standing near your microwave or there’s a visible spark inside it, immediately unplug it from the wall socket. Don’t touch your microwave’s digital display or main body when overheated. Unplug it from the socket and step aside for a while.
  2. Let it rest for 10 Minutes: Once you have unplugged your microwave, don’t open its door right away. Hot air will directly hit your skin if you do so, leaving scars and burn marks. Let your microwave rest for 10 minutes before opening its door and removing the food so that your skin doesn’t get hot air. 
  3. Plug it Again if Needed: If your microwave got hot during a cooking cycle, you could plug it again once it’s cooled down and there’s no visible spark. Avoid touching its turntable and inner walls, though.

How do I Stop My Microwave from Overheating? 

When your microwave starts overheating or you want to remain safe right from the beginning, you can follow a few proactive steps to overcome this problem.

Here are some practical tips to keep your microwave safe from heat damage: 

  • Provide Enough Ventilation to the Microwave 

First things first, where does your microwave sit in your kitchen? Is it in an enclosed cabinet or atop a shelf? Your microwave’s location will determine how nicely it uses and emits the heat coming from its heating source.

If your microwave is inside a cabinet, make sure it has enough breathing space around it. Don’t keep the microwave too close to your cabinet walls or door if you wish to avoid the overheating problem. 

If you don’t have space for the microwave other than a cabinet, you can poke a few ventilation holes in the wooden surface to overcome this worry. These venting holes will ensure your microwave has sufficient ventilation space and its emitted heat doesn’t damage the wooden surface. 

  • Don’t Run the Microwave Empty 

Although a few recipes instruct you to pre-heat the microwave, doing so is not mandatory if you’re concerned about overheating. When you run an empty microwave, it doesn’t have any water or steam particles to rotate. As a result, the heat directly hits your microwave’s metallic surfaces, causing sparks and overheating. 

If you must pre-heat the microwave, do it for 2-3 minutes to prevent the spark. Moreover, you can place a water bowl in the microwave to protect it from heat flares. 

  • Cook at a Medium Temperature 

Your microwave’s cooking temperature will determine if it surpasses the safe limit or not. If you’re habitual of cooking at a blasting temperature for a few minutes, you’ll often see your microwave overheating.

On the flip side, keeping a microwave’s temperature at a medium level will ensure its heating source doesn’t get overworked, and you experience a seamless cooking experience. 

Prefer a medium temperature level while cooking in your microwave, especially if it doesn’t have an auto shut off feature. But if you want to complete a cooking task quickly, you can pre-heat the microwave at a low temperature and then put your food inside it to speed up the process. 

How To Fix an Overheated Microwave?

If providing your microwave with enough ventilating space doesn’t stop it from overheating, something is off with your appliance. The culprit here can be your microwave’s heating element, its outer frame, or the venting fans; you cannot be sure by looking at it. 

When you’re stuck in such a situation, it’s time to call over an electrician or take your microwave to one. Immediately unplug your microwave when it shows signs of overheating or if its auto shut off feature activates. Let your microwave be unplugged for a while, and plug it again after a few minutes.

If you still notice overheating signs, claim your microwave’s warranty or consult an electrician.

Summing Up 

A reliable microwave can reduce your workload in the kitchen by half with its speedy working. However, using a microwave comes with a few technicalities. Some cooks notice their microwave overheating and start worrying if it is unusual. Therefore, we decided to explain a microwave’s overheating problem and some actionable steps you can follow to overcome it. 

Make sure your microwave has enough breathing space, and you don’t run it at a blasting temperature if you wish to avoid overheating. But if your microwave gets dangerously hot despite your care instructions, consulting an expert is the way out. Stop cooking in your microwave because the overheating problem can be hazardous. Get it fixed, and then you’ll be free to use it as much as you like! 

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