Can a Microwave Catch on Fire?
Microwaves can catch on fire in ways that might surprise you. We expect the fire risk from our ovens and gas stoves—you can see the flame! You can hear the roar as it kicks into incineration mode!
Most homes have microwaves, which is what makes the risks of owning one so disturbing. Imagine: your microwave suddenly catches fire one day, and you’re caught not knowing how to put it out or understand why it started.
Read on to learn what causes microwave fires, how to put them out, and how to avoid them in the first place.
What Causes Microwave Fires?
Microwaves stand apart from most other small to mid-size kitchen appliances. They produce heat, but you don’t expect them to be a hazard because they use electricity instead of gas or flames.
But these appliances don’t need flames to catch fire. Here are the top reasons microwave fires break out.
We can’t stress this enough: Don’t leave your food heating in the microwave and walk away.
Overheated food can burst into flames. Sometimes particles in the food can be susceptible to sparking flames.
You don’t always know how long you need to set it for or at what temperature, and if you leave the food unattended, you might not see the flames spark in time. Fires spread quickly, so it’s not worth the risk.
Metal in the Microwave
This rule is the number one no-no that most people know. Leave the spoon, aluminum foil, and other metal items on the counter if you’re heating oatmeal, soup, or leftovers.
Metal conducts electricity, and objects like silverware and aluminum foil can spark up. It’s one of the National Institute of Health’s top fire safety tips for a reason.
Some reheatable foods will come in microwave-unsafe packaging whose inks or plastic coating can melt and catch fire.
Before heating anything, transfer the food to a microwave-safe plate or bowl rather than heating them in the original packaging.
Faulty Waveguide Cover
The waveguide cover is the thin sheet inside the microwave that helps conduct the microwave radiation (heat) into food. Specifically, this cover prevents the buildup of steam and food particles on the device’s internal electrical components.
Have yours regularly checked out, and replace the microwave if it has become worn out. You might even see occasional sparks if the cover has a hole burned through from the electricity.
If the waveguide conducts energy, the magnetron produces it. If your microwave has just stopped heating things, it’s likely because of a magnetron failure.
This particular failure is a no-go—magnetron failure shuts down the whole microwave.
How to Put Out a Microwave Fire Quickly & Safely
While fires in these devices aren’t common, they occur—and often enough, you should be ready to spring into action when the moment comes. Take these steps to put out a fire in your microwave safely and quickly.
1. Shut the Door
Oxygen feeds fires, so you need to cut off the oxygen supply to the microwave. You might want to open the door on impulse to get to the flames to extinguish them.
However, all flame retardants do is suffocate oxygen from the blaze—you can already do that with the microwave door! Doing so also avoids exposure to the flames.
2. Unplug the Power Cord
Shutting the door and keeping it shut is the most critical step in battling microwave fires, but if it’s food or some kind of object you put inside that caused this fire, you need to make sure it can’t start back up. Unplug the power source and breathe a sigh of relief.
3. Call the Fire Department
Call in the experts. Fire is the most unpredictable substance on planet Earth—what looks like a containable little spark could soon grow into a raging inferno.
Ensure the fire department is inbound while you wait for the flames to go down. Flames can grow quickly, so don’t wait.
4. Keep a Fire Extinguisher at the Ready
Keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, where most fires break out, is an excellent idea. If you have one, keep it ready in case closing the door wasn’t sufficient to douse the flames.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Microwave Catch on Fire if Nothing Is in It?
Yes, especially the older you go back in make and model. Without food or another substance to absorb the heat and energy, the linings of the microwave and intricate inner wiring are in danger.
Can You Still Use a Microwave After a Fire?
You can still use a microwave after a fire, permitting the fire didn’t melt critical infrastructure or turn the microwave into a fire hazard.
Start with white vinegar and water to get out the severe damage. Then you can step it up to acetone or another harsh cleaning mixture.
Get in Touch With Us for Fire Damage Restoration
If your home sustained fire damage from a microwave, call All Dry USA. We provide restoration for fire and smoke damage, water damage, repairs and remodeling, roof repairs, carpet cleaning, and more.
Get in touch with us today to find out how our fire damage and cleanup services can help you.