These days, it is possible to buy a good basic microwave for $100, with the average cost of higher powered models being another $100 or $200. Unless your microwave is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, which would entitle you to service from a factory-authorized repair shop, you might cut your losses and go microwave shopping if your unit cost less than $150. The average life of the microwave is nine years or less.
When deciding whether microwave problems are worth fixing, you must factor in the cost of a service call. Replacing a touchpad can cost $50 or less, whereas replacing the magnetron, the part that converts voltage to radiofrequency energy that cooks the food, can cost into the hundreds. According to Angie’s List, the average cost its members paid for microwave repairs in 2013 was $133. If you are able to take your microwave to a repair center, you may pay less.
When Microwave Repair Definitely Pays Off
If you have a gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances, you probably did not purchase your microwave at a big box store, and you might have one with convection and other features that might price it into the thousands. Jenn Air, for example, has a microwave wall oven with a dual-fan convection system that retails for over $5,000, while offering countertop models that retail for over $700. In these cases, calling a repair company is worth your time and money in order to preserve your original investment.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Microwave?
With more than 90% of American households relying on their microwaves to heat food on a daily basis, it’s no wonder a broken appliance can send panic through a family. When a microwave fails, it is important to get it fixed–fast. While it may be tempting to head to the store and buy a new one, the fact is, a new appliance can be expensive; making repairing the one you have more budget-friendly.
A lot of things can go wrong with a microwave oven, leaving it unable to cook food properly. From a blown fuse or defective door switch, to a burned-out magnetron or faulty transmitter, the cost of repairs usually averages between $100 and $200 and includes such things as repairing a touchpad, door, fuse, and some fan repairs. Of course, bigger problems can result in bigger repair bills.
Repairing a broken microwave can cost anywhere from $10 to replace a blown fuse, to $150 for a qualified repairman to put in a new magnetron or transformer. Considering the array of prices associated with fixing a microwave oven, it is important for appliance owners to understand the different factors which may affect the overall repair cost.
- Brands. Generally speaking, the higher end the appliance, the more expensive it is going to be at repair time. For instance, Viking and Thermador carry average repair bills of $200-$600 due to the higher prices of their parts, while more medium-range appliances made by GE, LG, Hotpoint, and Frigidaire cost about $150 for the average repair.
- Type of repair. Depending on the problem, your repair professional may need to take the appliance apart (and put it back together), which adds costs to overall bill. Plus, you must factor in the cost of any parts needed. A simple repair, like replacing a fuse, may only take a few minutes and cost as little as $10-$15 (plus any service call fee required), while a faulty touchpad is going to run between $20 and $50 for parts and installation. Something more serious and time consuming, like replacing a magnetron, carries a heftier repair bill of around $150 for most standard models.
- The professional rates. Professional microwave repair techs’ fees do vary from region to region, but overall most homeowners can count on paying an average of $70 per hour for the service. Repair professionals with more experience and training may charge a little more, while professionals in more rural areas may cost a bit less.
- How far you live from the nearest professional. If you live in an area far from town, or live in a busy metropolitan area with heavy traffic, plan on paying a premium for repair service. Most professionals factor average travel within their standard fees, but when they must travel more than 10-15 miles (or 15-30 minutes) you can count on them adding an extra travel fee for their service. This can be anywhere from a flat $25-$50 to an actual mileage fee (with the average about 58 cents per mile).
- How accessible the appliance is. Another factor which may affect the price of repair is how hard it is for your repair professional to access it. Built-in 1 wall units that must be removed from the wall and reinserted onto brackets 2, or those tucked away under cabinets, or in other harder-to-reach areas may cost a little more to repair simply because it takes more time to uninstall and reinstall them.
- How easy it is to find parts. Parts accessibility can also affect repair costs. If your repairman must take time to research and track down older model parts for your repair, you can bet he is going to charge you for his time and effort.
Considering that there are so many things that can leave your microwave out of service, you may be wondering what some of the most common problems and fixes are and what they are going to cost. Here is a rundown of what to expect:
|Problem||Piece that needs replacement||Average cost|
|Sparks||Rack supportWave guide coverBurned diode||$5-$20$10-$15$75-$100|
|Loud banging or humming noises||Roller guideDrive couplerDiodeMagnetronCooling fan||$20-$30$20-$50$75-$100$100-$150$150-$200|
|Motor runs and then stops||Touch padDoor switchTransformerFan motor||$20-$50$50$100-$150$150-$200|
|Button failure||Touch padControl panelControl board||$20-$50$60-$100$200|
|Interior plate stops spinning||Rotating motor||$20-$60|
|Failure to heat||Magnetron||$100-$150|
|Running while door is open||Interlocking switchFan||$100$200|
There are some simple repairs that a handy homeowner can do on their own, but in most cases a professional repair expert is needed to insure that your microwave is both fixed properly and safe to use. Professionals have the knowledge and experience to work with all types of microwave brands and models. Plus, they have quick access to needed parts (which gets your appliance up and running faster), and they are knowledgeable when working with electricity, making the repair itself safer.
Paying for labor usually runs about $70-$100 an hour in most areas, for a qualified repair professional. The good news is that most repairs take an hour or less, with even more complicated ones only taking about 2 hours. Be prepared to pay a $50-$100 service call fee just to have the repair expert come to your home to assess the problem. This fee, however, is usually credited back to the homeowner if they do indeed proceed with the repair.
It’s always cheaper to keep your microwave in good working order rather than being forced to pay for costly repairs. Here are some tips for properly maintaining your microwave oven and avoiding problems in the future:
- Keep it clean (both inside and out): Failing to clean up those spills can cause corrosion on the inside and outside of your appliance. Plus, every time you run the microwave it will continue to heat the spills, making it much less efficient and forcing it to work harder than it should.
- Never run it empty: when you run a microwave with nothing in it, the water molecules in the food are absent, which redirects those microwaves back into the magnetron. Over time, this will damage it.
- Never use metal in your microwave: the micro waves emitted during usage will bounce off the metal and burn the interior components of the appliance.
- Use proper containers: not all containers (especially plastic) are safe to use in a microwave. Some will even melt, which can damage the interior of the appliance. Be sure to use only microwave-safe containers when heating food and avoid all metals and plates with gold or silver accents.
- Cover food when heating: avoid splashes, which can clog parts and cause corrosion, by covering all foods when heating.
- Don’t over-pack the appliance: read your instruction manual and follow all weight limitations to ensure that the food cooks evenly and that you aren’t overworking the appliance’s motorized parts.
- Check the door: Be sure the door closes properly every time it is in use. That will keep those micro waves inside where they belong and keep the motor from running too hard.
- Guard against power surges: sudden electrical surges can short out many of a microwave oven’s components. Avoid this problem by using a power surge protector. You can usually pick up a good quality one at your local home improvement store for under $40.
Repair vs. Replace a Microwave
Microwaves are one of the cheapest kitchen appliances to replace, sometimes making it more economical to do so rather than fixing them. Still, many homeowners may prefer to fix what’s wrong instead of having to go shopping for a newer model.
So what factors should you consider when trying to decide whether to repair or replace your broken model? Most experts agree that age is a major consideration. Microwaves are only made to last 8-10 years these days, so if your model is more than six years old, it is probably time for a new one.
The brand and model are also important, since higher-end models can cost $1,000 or more to replace versus a few hundred to repair. Of course lower-end models costing around $300 brand new are likely a better deal than shelling out $150 for the average repair.
No matter how much you may love your current model, there are times when replacing it is an absolute must. If your appliance sparks, smokes, or smells like something in it is burning, it is no longer safe to use and should be replaced. Doors that do not close properly can cost more than $150 to repair, which is usually not cost-effective. Likewise, when your food isn’t cooking all the way through, the fix may cost more than a new appliance.
Additional Considerations and Costs
Every household project requires some thought and knowledge. Microwave repair is no different. Here are a few things to think about and be prepared to pay for when calling in a repair expert:
- DIY repair. If you are handy, you may be able to handle something small like replacing the roller guide inside the microwave. But most repairs do require specialty knowledge and experience, so it is probably best to call in a qualified professional to handle the job safely and efficiently.
- Setting expectations with your repair professional. It is vital that you talk with your repairman before setting an appointment. Make sure he or she knows the brand, make, and model number of the appliance to ensure it is one he is familiar with. Next, ask about fees, including service and travel fees before hiring. It is always best that both parties are clear regarding expectations before starting a job.
- Check the warranty before deciding to perform repairs. Not every problem is covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, but many are. Be sure to check your warranty first to see what is covered and what is not.
- Home warranties. In most cases your home warranty will cover microwave repair as long as you have a microwave appliance coverage. Also, be aware that many home warranties charge a service fee ranging from $50-$100 just to send out a repairman. After that fee, though, most repairs are covered and free replacement is offered (with a comparable make and model) if your appliance is deemed unfixable.