Microwave Sparking: Problem and Resolution

Microwave sparking inside

Microwave sparking? Now what?

A couple of weeks ago my daughter was making oatmeal in the microwave and the it started sparking and popping inside. She yelled, “the microwave is sparking!”. I ran over saw the sparks and hit the stop button. The sparks stopped.

I had seen that happen before in a microwave when I had put a tea bag inside that had a staple on it, but this time there was no metal in the microwave.

I wondered if it was a fluke, so I timidly started it again. Again and again the microwave sparked (even after changing what I was warming up).

After reading some forums, thinking that I would need to buy a new microwave, I found a fix! I was able to fix my microwave in just a few minutes.

Relieved that I don’t have to find a replacement that fits in my kitchen cabinet build-in, I am here to share the simple fix, hoping that someone down the road with a sparking microwave will find this page and be able to fix it themselves.

Microwave Arcing

When the microwave sparks inside, it is actually arcing. When the microwave arcs, it looks like the food is sparking. The arc has a loud buzzing and popping sound and lights up entire inside of the microwave. It looks like a flashing, eerie electrical storm in the interior of the microwave.

According to firetrace.com, “Electrical arcing is when electrical current jumps a gap in a circuit or between two electrodes (conductors of electricity.

If your microwave appears to be doing this, here is what to do.

buzzing and sparking in microwave

What to do if your microwave is sparking.

Here are the steps that you need to take when your microwave is arcing.

  1. As soon as you hear the buzzing sound or see the arcing electricity, promptly turn of the microwave. (A good reminder to never leave a microwave unattended.) Unplug it if that is a quick option.
  2. Check that there is no metal in the microwave that would cause the food to be sparking.
  3. Now, if you haven’t already, unplug the microwave.
  4. Soak a rag with hot, soapy water and ring it out. Clean the entire interior of the microwave so that it is very clean. Make sure that all the food splatters and oils are cleaned off from the top, sides and bottom of the microwave. Don’t forget to wash the rotation ring and removable tray if your microwave has one. This may fix your problem, as the food debris could be the cause of it. Crazy right? However read on.
  5. Look inside the microwave to locate the wave guide, or wave regulator. It looks like a metal square on the side or back of interior of the microwave. Check to see if there is a dark circle on it. This may require removing it to inspect the back as well. Try to clean it off if there is a mark. Wash it like you did the rest of the microwave. If it will not come clean, you will need to replace your damaged wave regulator. They are not expensive, under $10 at this link. Make sure that you check your model and buy the compatible size.
  6. Once the inside is clean and completely dry, and the wave regulator is replaced properly, try warming up a cup of water. NOTE* Never run a microwave when it is empty.

Did this solve your problem? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

Now that you microwave is fixed, try making these delicious microwave caramels in just 10 minutes!

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