When a microwave is not working properly, it’s best to consult an appliance repair professional rather than attempt a DIY repair. Depending on the situation, however, it may be more cost-effective to buy a new microwave than pay for the cost of the repair.
Repair versus replace
Of all kitchen appliances, microwaves are probably the least expensive to replace, especially the smaller, lower-cost models. Ilya Uvaydov, owner of Urban Appliances Repair in Daly City, California, says the only microwaves he typically repairs are high-end models made by Viking, Thermador and other luxury brands. The cost to fix these units ranges from $200 to $600, depending on the problem. Jim Lloyd, owner of JGL Repair in Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees, but he is happy to meet with anyone to take a look at a malfunctioning microwave. Lloyd charges $70–$75 for a service call, and if the labor to make the repair costs more than that, he deducts the service fee from the overall cost.
In most microwaves, the magnetron creates the heat. If this part fails, it’s wise to have a professional diagnose and repair the unit because it can be dangerous to make this repair. Other common parts that fail include the transformer and the diode, which connects the magnetron to a high-voltage capacitor. When replacing the magnetron, most repair techs will replace the diode at the same time. The least expensive repair to make on a microwave is to replace a blown fuse, but it may take time for the repair tech to diagnose the problem—time that could add up to more than the cost of a new unit. Here are prices for parts (excluding labor) that commonly need to be replaced in malfunctioning microwave ovens:
A less common microwave problem is a unit that runs when the door is not closed. This could be caused by a failure of the interlock switches on the door latch. If this occurs, it poses a safety hazard, and most repair professionals recommend purchasing a new unit.
Some experts say it’s not worth repairing a malfunctioning countertop microwave because the average cost of repairs runs about $70–$100 not including parts—about half the cost of a good-quality new one.
Because they are built-in, over-the-range microwaves may be worth repairing, especially if the unit is less than two or three years old (and, of course, if it is protected by a service warranty). The accessibility of the unit affects the repair cost, however. If it is difficult for a technician to open it up to diagnose and repair the problem, costs will increase.