If you struggle with your microwave plate not turning around, don’t hurry to purchase a new microwave just yet. Sometimes a little DIY can address the problem that is keeping your microwave’s glass plate from spinning. It might just take a few tools and some basic knowledge of what’s happening inside the appliance to fix it.
A few different internal and external issues can stop a spinning plate in its tracks. If you aren’t comfortable taking a screwdriver to your appliances to find out what’s causing the stall, have a microwave repair expert check it out.
Here are some steps an appliance repair person would take:
Make basic checks. Check that the turntable is seated correctly on the track and that there’s no food or debris in the way. Ensure that the plate is right side up and that if there is an option to turn the turntable off, it’s not selected. When you turn the microwave on, make sure the door closes and latches and that you’re not starting a timer instead of cooking.
Clean the microwave. Get rid of dirt or food buildup that might be gumming up the works. Hard-to-see sticky messes or general grime buildup can interfere with your turntable’s spin. Cleaning all your appliances regularly can reduce how frequently they need other maintenance.
Inspect the drive motor. This is what makes the plate spin when you turn on the microwave, and it sits below the turntable. If you hear a grinding sound or the plate is turning in jerky motions, a faulty drive motor is the most likely culprit, and it’ll need to be replaced. If the motor is just not running smoothly, use a multimeter to check continuity. Completely disconnect the microwave from power, and remove the bottom panel. Find and disconnect the two wires attached to the bottom of the motor, and touch them to the multimeter. If continuity is zero, the drive motor is likely fine, and you can reassemble the microwave. If it’s any other number, the drive motor should be replaced.
Ensure tray support. The microwave plate sits on top of a support, which is usually three triangular spokes or a circular frame with spokes and wheels to guide the plate along the track. Pull the microwave tray out. The support should easily pull off the coupling it sits on. Inspect it for cracks and wear, especially on the wheels. Clean the wheels and track, and make sure everything spins smoothly.
Check the tray coupling. Right underneath the support should be the coupling. It’s usually made of hard plastic and pokes up from the center floor of the microwave. It turns when the microwave’s on, making the plate and support spin. It may have three prongs in a triangle shape (under a round plate) or look like an offset center roller (under a square or rectangular plate). Pull out the microwave tray and support and set them aside. Pull the coupling out to inspect it for wear or damage, especially inside the hole where it attaches to the motor. If it doesn’t attach snugly, it won’t turn with the drive motor and will need to be replaced.
Related Topic: What Is a Convection Microwave, and Is It Worth It?
Spinning is ideal, but if the microwave plate does not turn, it’s not the end of the world. If you don’t use your microwave often or don’t mind getting up to stir your reheating burrito bowl halfway through, you can get by with a stationary microwave tray. If you decide to skip repairing your microwave plate, you may notice your food heating unevenly with cold spots. Frequent microwave users should look into getting repairs or purchasing a new microwave. Some small appliance repairs are worth it.
So, why do some microwaves not spin? Older models don’t have a spinning plate since the tech wasn’t invented until the 1980s. Many commercial microwaves don’t spin either. This makes cleanup easier, offers fewer moving parts to break down, and allows for microwaving large or weirdly shaped dishes. Commercial microwaves also usually have a way to counteract uneven heating, like a stirrer, heated bottom, or convection function.
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