Generally when you think of microwave noise the first thing that comes to mind is the horrible beeping that sounds like a large piece of equipment about to back over you. But your microwave also makes other noises such as fan noises or the hum of electrical components at work.
For some people, who use the microwave for a couple of minutes to heat things up, the noise will probably not be a big deal. For those who cook whole meals in the microwave, half hour or more humming, blowing, and beeping may become a little annoying.
Here are a few ideas you can use to quiet down your microwave oven.
6 Ways to Quiet a Microwave Oven
1) Build a Box for the Microwave
Microwave noise comes out of the back and one, or both, ends of the machine. The Magnetron and Diode produce a lot of heat and the fan needs to remove it. The vents act as cool air intake and warm exhaust outlets. Meaning that wrapping a moving blanket around the microwave to silence it will end up being counter productive.
Microwaves installed over stoves start out quieter because they usually are surrounded on 4 sides by cabinet and wall. Unfortunately, most of them are also combination microwave and exhaust fan. Although there are many very quiet range hood fans (please see our article The Quietest Range Hood of 2023), microwave fans do not make the list.
As microwave popularity has grown, kitchen designers have begun including small enclosed cabinets for these machines. Some even include doors. Although even without a door, the box itself will help with noise reduction. It is relatively easy to enclose your microwave on the countertop.
Cut 2 pieces of MDF to fit between the upper cupboards and countertop. Use PL400 to glue 1″ x 1″ strips of backing to the underside of the top cabinets, the wall, and the counter top. After they dry, glue the side pieces to the backing. If you get matching wood grain or white MDF shelving, the only extra finishing needed is a small bead of silicone caulking where the new pieces meet everything else.
If you really feel the need, you can add a door. Most newer kitchens use small roll top doors on the microwave cabinet. So you should be able to get one from a cabinet maker.
The MDF and drywall surrounding the microwave provide excellent mass to deaden sound waves of varying frequencies. Quieting all of the various noises.
Note: Most building codes now require a dedicated circuit for microwaves. Make certain it is inside the cabinet. Otherwise you will have to cut a hole in one end of the cabinet to get a line to power.
2) Stop the Beep
Many microwaves manufactured within the last 5 years have a ‘Sound Off/On’ function. Even some of the older machines will turn the beeps off. (Not our 14 year old Panasonic.) But in some cases figuring out the secret code of older machines can be frustrating–specially if someone lost or threw out the owners manual. You will have to go to the manufacturers website to get the information.
Usually the beeps can be turned off or on by using some combination of control panel keys, and holding them down for a specified length of time. Even the new ones use the same system. (Toshiba for instance, has you press the number 8 for three seconds to turn off beeping.) Generally newer microwaves have the on/off button (or buttons) clearly marked on the console.
Once you have cracked the code, you can turn the beeping off when you have babies sleeping or just to eliminate the aggravating noise.
Note: People have been known the forget stuff in the microwave without the warning.
3) Quieting Microwave Electronics
The electronics in a microwave produce a lot of power. In some cases they end up storing excess electricity in the capacitor and tricking the sensors into thinking there is still something in the microwave oven even after it has been emptied. Here are a couple of ways to reset the microwave.
Refresh the Microwave Sensors
Microwave sensors can get confused over time, think there is still food in the machine, and continue beeping even after you remove it. To refresh the sensors, mix up a couple of teaspoons of sugar in a cup of water. Place it in the microwave and run it at the lowest setting for 15 seconds. Remove the water and press CLEAR/STOP a couple times. The beeping should stop when you close the door.
If the beeping starts again, move on to the hard reset.
Hard Reset the Microwave
This is just a fancy way of saying “Unplug Your Microwave”. Unplug the microwave for 5 minutes. When you plug it in again, the sensors should have been reset to their original state, and the extra electricity has been removed from the capacitor.
With any luck the microwave should go back to working like you want it to. Without any excess beeping.
4) Repair or Replace the Microwave Motor Drive
Microwave drive motors will let you know they are wearing out by producing a grinding noise when turning the tray. Or by not turning the tray at all. Before you can take out the motor, you will have to remove the drive coupler from inside the the oven. When you get it out, and before attacking the motor, inspect the cavity that the coupler sits in. Make sure it is clean. You can get a grinding sound if the coupler cavity is dirty. Make sure it is clean and try the microwave again before changing the motor. You might just have fixed the problem.
A microwave oven is a fairly complex piece of equipment. One of the least complex, and easiest to repair and/or replace is the motor drive that rotates the microwave tray. You just need to remove the bottom of the microwave to access the motor. The motor has 2 wires connecting it to power and one or two screws holding it on. Install the new motor, replace the bottom of the machine, and give it a try. It should work quieter.
Note: Unplug the microwave before working on it. There is enough juice running through it to do a little more damage than just causing an unpleasant electrical tingle in your finger tips.
5) Replace Microwave Cooling Fan, Magnetron, or Capacitor
Replacing any of these parts will require total removal of the microwave outer cabinet.
Warning: Microwave capacitors can retain a LETHAL electrical charge even after the machine is unplugged. Discharge it with rubber handled needle nosed pliers before doing any work inside the microwave. Or take it to a professional.
Replacing Microwave Cooling Fans
Like virtually all fans, microwave cooling fan motors and blades attract dirt and dust. Dirt, damage, or faults of any type will likely produce weird fan noises. The following YouTube video shows how to replace one type of cooling fan motor.
Replacing the Microwave Magnetron
The microwave magnetron is the part that generates the heat. It also produces a humming sound when working. When the hum gets louder or there is a buzzing sound when the microwave is working, you will likely need a new magnetron. Some microwaves will use the same magnetron–probably because they are made in the same factories–but most manufacturers use different parts. Make sure you order the proper unit for your microwave. The following YouTube video will give you some idea of what you are up against should you decide to replace it yourself.
Replacing the Microwave High Voltage Diode
A faulty high voltage diode can also cause a loud humming and/or buzzing noise like the magnetron. Which can cause some confusion. If not working properly it can cause loud popping sounds and uneven heating in the oven. Use a multimeter to test the diode. Replace it if it test faulty. Here is a YouTube video showing how the replace the diode.
6) Take the Microwave to a Professional
If you are like me, and the words magnetron and diode make you twitch, definitely consider taking the microwave to a professional. They can diagnose the problem quicker than you can, and probably repair it way quicker also. Quite likely you will also receive a parts and labor warranty with the repair.
Offer to pay for the inspection and opinion, then ask for a quote to repair your microwave. Unless it is a total mess, it will probably cost you $100.00 – $150.00 for an average repair with parts being about half of the total. Keep in mind that you can buy some pretty good name brand microwaves for under $200.00. And you can turn off the beeping on new ones.
Is it Worth Repairing?
Before committing to repairing your microwave, consider the following.
Our microwave is 14 years old, cost around $320.00. Which means that it has cost around $23.00 per year or $2.00 per month. It has been used multiple times a day as long as we have owned it. It owes us nothing.
A new magnetron will probably cost around $50.00. Changing it will take an hour. Assuming you changed the right part (which in my case is always questionable), you will have to get another 4 years out of the machine to break even financially (and your time is free). And our machine will still beep, beep because it is old.
Buy a New Microwave
Most new microwaves have a Silent Mode enabling you to turn off the beeps. And many of them excel at quiet operation. Bigger, more powerful microwaves generally have more and better soundproofing insulation, quieter fans and turn tables because more power generally means more noise. Some of the quiet new microwaves you might consider are:
- Panasonic 1200 watt
- Toshiba 1100 watt
- Comfee 700 watt
- Frigidaire 1000 watt
There are many other quiet microwaves to consider. The 4 listed all have Silent Mode and cost under $500.00. A couple are combination microwave/range hood units, and some are countertop units.