Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Broken Microwave: Turns Itself On

RF Meter Reading while Microwave is Properly Turned On
Malfunctioning Microwave
This was a recent phenomenon. It first started out with the turntable rotating briefly, like less than a second, when the door of the microwave was opened using the button -- not while the thing was cooking, always after the beeps, always when at rest. I thought it was the turntable getting snagged on the door because it was moved out of position. Didn't give it much thought afterwards because the turntable barely moved.

After a few days, the turntable started turning and there was a loud hum or whoosh sound for a few seconds every so often. I played around with the oven and it seemed like the longer the microwave was left unused, the longer the hum and turntable went on. If I opened the door repeatedly, the issue appeared to go away. Turning the device on, itself, to actually cook something appeared to mitigate the issue.

What's the problem?
Not being a mechanically or electronically inclined person, I didn't know what was going on. This led me to Google the issue and the short of the long appeared to be that the microwave was malfunctioning -- duh? The issue did not appear to be isolated to the model or make that I had either. However, this wasn't my main concern.

Does the microwave generator turn on?
My real concern was if the microwave, radio frequency generating part was turning on. It cooks things, that can't be good. From what I knew, the loud hum should have been the fan and not the actual cooking part being activated. Everything I previously read suggested that there were safety interlocks to prevent the microwave (radio frequency part) from turning on when the door was open. How to be sure?

Why do I have an RF Meter?
Luckily, I bought an RF meter a while back to check out a few things around the house. Some Googling and product specs suggested that the meter should have been able to detect whatever the microwave was putting out -- that and the fact that I'd used the meter before on the microwave and there were readings that coincided with the activation of the microwave.

This meant that I should have been able to see if the microwave was putting out any microwaves when the door was opened. Well, I think I got an answer. However, not being a microwave or radio frequency or electromagnetic field specialist, I can't know for sure and definitely can't say if this experiment is accurate or not. See the video below for a look at the problem and the meter in action.

In no way should the readings from the meter be considered accurate as it has not been independently checked for accuracy. And more importantly, the operator is not trained and not knowledgeable concerning radio frequency related matters.

Video of the malfunctioning microwave here.

Reminder: Accuracy Not Guaranteed

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