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How to change your microwave light bulb

A miniature handyman changes a light bulb hanging down into the center of a microwave's cooking cavity

Does a dimming light in your microwave mean it’s time to hunt for a replacement? Don’t order anything just yet – we’re here to shed some light on microwave bulb maintenance. Follow these steps for an easy microwave light bulb replacement that’ll have it working good as new!

Pro Tip: For best results, please refer to your owner’s manual. If your situation is more complex than the one described, please consult a professional. Always practice electrical and fire safety.

Microwave light bulb fast facts

Before we unscrew or unplug anything, let’s cover the fundamentals of this often-overlooked, but important component of the home appliance so many of use daily.

What do light bulbs do in my microwave?

The light inside microwaves lets us see our food before and during cooking, turning off to let us know when the microwave has finished running. The actual micro-waves produced by another microwave component, the magnetron, are responsible for heating up those tasty leftovers.

Pro Tip: The rumors are true – standing too close to a microwave increases your risk of exposure to electromagnetic radiation. It’s better to keep distance between you and your microwave when it’s in use in case there is an electromagnetic radiation leak, which may be hard to detect.

What bulbs do most microwaves use?

Most microwaves use incandescent or halogen bulbs, which are comparable in price and can last for up to 1,000 and 3,000 hours of use, respectively.

What does it mean when my microwave light bulb gets dim or goes out?

If your microwave light suddenly goes out, check your power source before checking to see if your bulb is blown. If your power source isn’t the issue, it may be time for a new microwave. Likewise, it’s probably time for a new bulb if you notice any of the following:

  • Food takes much longer than usual to cook, which means the issue may not (just) be the light.
  • Your microwave is about ten years old.
  • The keypad is dead (same reasoning as above).

Pro Tip: Your magnetron may need replacement if your microwave starts making strange sounds, like grating, growling, or screeching. Magnetron repairs can be so expensive that it may be more cost-effective to replace the whole microwave, instead of fixing or replacing this one piece.

Interior microwave light bulb replacement, step by step

Now that you’ve determined your microwave needs a new interior bulb, you can take a handful of minutes to get  your microwave working like new. Here are 6 easy steps to learn how to change the light bulb in your microwave.

  • Step 1: Purchase a bulb that will fit your specific unit ($5-$10/bulb).
  • Step 2: Unplug or disconnect the power source to your microwave.
  • Step 3: Check your manual to unscrew and remove the necessary covering(s), grill(s), or casing(s) to access where the bulb is housed.   
  • Step 4: Unscrew the old bulb, taking out any panels it may be affixed to as needed. Put screws on a strip of duct tape or in a small bag to avoid losing them!
  • Step 5: Install the new bulb, attaching it to its panel (if applicable), and restore all casings and coverings to their original position.
  • Step 6: Reconnect your microwave, and enjoy food cooked faster!

Bonus: Under-microwave light bulb replacement, step by step

If you have a built-in microwave, you’ve got another bulb to change. In 20 minutes or less, you can take care of this one, too, and brighten up your whole kitchen.

  • Step 1: Purchase the specific light bulb for this space ($5-$40/bulb).
  • Step 2: Unplug or disconnect the power source to your microwave.
  • Step 3: Unscrew the light covers and disconnect the wire connectors (Hold on to your screws with a strip of duct tape or in a small bag).
  • Step 4: Remove the old bulb.
  • Step 5: Install the new bulb.
  • Step 6: Reconnect the wire connectors before reattaching all screws and covers.
  • Step 7: Turn on your brand new cooktop light and get cooking!

Pro Tip: Help the environment – check for light bulb recycling programs in your area.

Microwave maintenance

In addition to changing your microwave lights, practice the tips for a more efficient microwave below, and visit this page to learn the rest.

  • Running your microwave when empty can lead to damage.
  • Clean your microwave plate cover and cooking cavity to prevent food from getting stuck in your microwave’s door seal, which could prevent it from cooking properly.
  • Soften stains by adding 2 drops of soap to a wet sponge and microwaving for 1 minute before cleaning.
  • Link to charcoal filter story too?

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