I’m a microwave enthusiast, and a day can’t go by without nuking some food. And who can blame me? A quick burst of microwaves can transform your limp leftover pizza into a crispy piece of heaven. Oh, and don’t even get me started on heating up water for tea! It’s as easy as spinning a knob.
You can check on how to reheat leftover pizza.
But sometimes your food comes out lukewarm or ice cold, and the water takes ages to heat up. What gives? The answer is simple: you have a non-spinning microwave turntable, resulting in uneven cooking. Fortunately, resolving this issue is relatively simple.
How do you fix a microwave that won’t spin?
First, check if the problem is just with the turntable itself. If this is not the case, it could be a faulty drive motor, a track obstruction, a damaged roller guide, a broken tray coupler, or a tray support problem. Examine each part individually, identify the faulty component, and repair or replace it as necessary.
In this post, we’ll look at the most common causes of non-spinning microwaves, as well as their solutions and any necessary repairs. Also, we’ll address some concerns about microwaves and turntables, such as if turntables are necessary for microwaves and what happens if they don’t spin.
What Is the Function of a Microwave Turntable?
The turntable’s primary function is to rotate food clockwise or counterclockwise so that it cooks evenly. Without it, you’d have to stir your food while cooking constantly.
Microwaves are designed with convenience, making them a perfect choice for people on the go. Right from their modest size and weight to their easy-to-use interface, these devices make whipping up dinner easier than ever before. The turntable found within microwaves is a notable feature.
Although underappreciated, this seemingly innocuous component serves a critical role: rotating your food to ensure even cooking. In a matter of seconds, I can have my bowl of cereal warm and ready to eat without the hassle of stirring. And the results are self-evident: no burnt edges or cold spots, and every bite is just as good as the last.
It doesn’t get any easier than this. Simply put the cereal in a bowl, press the start button, and wait for the beep to go off.
Can You Use a Microwave without a Turntable?
You don’t need a turntable to use your microwave. The turntable does not prevent the electromagnetic waves from cooking the food but aids in the even distribution of heat.
For starters, did you know there are microwave brands that do not include a turntable? I’m talking about Flatbed Microwaves, and they’re superb. I’ve had one for years, and it’s just as good as my old spinning plate model. Instead of rotating plates, Flatbed microwaves rely on stirring blades to distribute heat evenly across the entire dish.
But that doesn’t mean that if you don’t have one of these microwaves or if your turntable microwave is broken, your hopes of reheating leftovers are doomed. If you don’t mind getting up to stir your food every minute, all is not lost. Stirring, like the turntable, allows you to distribute heat across your meal evenly.
However, it is not for every Dick, Jane, or Sally. Let’s face it, who has time to stir their pasta sauce constantly? Or pulling apart their macaroni and cheese before reheating it? It can get tedious, especially when you want to make a quick lunch. If this is the case, repairing the turntable might be worth considering.
What Happens If Your Microwave Doesn’t Spin
A non-spinning microwave’s turntable can lead to uneven cooking or damage the magnetron tube. These two problems can negatively affect your food and, if left unchecked, may ruin your microwave entirely.
Here’s a quick rundown of what happens when your turntable stops spinning:
1. Uneven Cooking
Nobody wants to consume uncooked food, and with a microwave that doesn’t spin, this is a real possibility. With no turning motion from the turntable, the microwaves are focused in one spot rather than being evenly distributed around the food.
As a result, some areas of the food will cook or overcook while others remain undercooked. The ramifications for this are far more severe than just an unappetizing meal. Undercooked food means pathogens like Salmonella or E. coli go undetected and make you sick. In extreme circumstances, poisoned food can lead to death.
2. Damage to the Magnetron
This is the main component of your microwave that emits the electromagnetic waves that cook your food. So, how does a non-spinning tray affect this crucial piece?
Without a microwave turntable, heat waves that would otherwise be distributed around the tray bounce off the walls and into the cavity. Eventually, these strong bursts of energy damage the magnetron tube, drastically reducing its lifespan. This affects not only the quality of your food but also the safety of your appliance.
What Causes a Microwave to Stop Spinning
Before you toss out your faulty microwave or call a handyman, identify the source of the problem first. You never know; it could be just a simple fix!
So, here are the common causes for your microwave turntable not spinning.
1. Faulty Turntable Drive Motor
A broken drive motor is the number one culprit of a non-spinning microwave. It rotates the plate to cook food evenly and is typically located below the microwave’s floor.
In most cases, if the turntable moves in wobbly motions or doesn’t move at all, the drive motor is to blame. Also, grinding noises often indicate that the inner workings of the motor have been severely compromised. In this case, repair might be possible, but a replacement will probably be necessary.
2. Obstructions in the Microwave’s Track
I know it seems dumb and obvious, but even the smallest crumb lodged in the track can throw the roller guide off balance, making the tray difficult to spin. Before calling a professional, peek under the microwave plate to see if anything is blocking the track.
3. Damaged or Dirty Roller Guide
An obstruction in the track or a faulty motor isn’t always why a turntable won’t spin. Sometimes the roller guide could be at fault. Usually, this circular object has small wheels on either side that the turntable rests on.
Over time, these wheels lose traction due to dirt buildup, causing the turntable to slip and become unbalanced. Alternatively, the roller guide frames can become loose or damaged from overuse or abuse. These structures stabilize the guide, preventing it from slipping or wobbling. If they’re bent, cracked, or warped, the plate won’t spin properly.
4. Broken Tray Support
Without a sturdy base, the microwave would rock back and forth with each turntable turn, rendering it useless. The tray support, usually composed of three triangular spokes, provides structural stability by guiding the tray along its designated path.
If the support is broken, jagged, missing pieces, or the wheels are worn down; the turntable will most likely not rotate smoothly.
5. Issues with the Tray Coupler
The last thing to check before giving up is the coupler. The tray coupler is the grooved centerpiece that attaches to the drive motor transmitting the power to the plate.
All too often, the plastic ridges inside the coupler wear down, break, or bend after years of use. When this happens, the teeth no longer align with the drive motor, resulting in an unbalanced plate.
Ways to Fix a Microwave That Is Not Spinning
Now that you’ve identified the causes of your non-spinning microwave, there are a few DIY fixes worth trying before calling a technician.
1. Solution for a Faulty Turntable Drive Motor
As previously mentioned, a faulty drive motor is one of the leading causes of a malfunctioning turntable. There are two signs of a wrecked motor- an intermittent grinding noise and irregular plate rotations.
For the first issue, you have no choice but to replace the drive motor. However, if you’re experiencing irregular plate rotations, I suggest examining the drive motor for continuity. To do so, use a multimeter and follow the steps below:
- Unplug the microwave to avoid electric shock.
- Remove the bottom panel by loosening the screws holding it in place.
- Locate and disconnect the two drive motor wires.
- Turn on the multimeter to the ohms setting.
- Put one probe of the multimeter against each wire end. If the meter reads zero, your drive motor is perfectly alright, and the problem is most likely with another component. However, replace the drive motor if it reads anything other than zero.
2. Solutions to Microwave Track Obstructions
Another reason why microwaves don’t spin is due to track obstructions. Food buildup can clog the track, preventing the tray from rotating. Luckily, this is an easy fix! All you need to do is remove any leftover food under the tray, along the track, and around the spinning wheel.
For the hard-to-reach spots, use a toothpick dipped in soapy water to clear out any grease or grime. Once done, rinse off all traces of soap and dry thoroughly.
3. The solution to Damaged or Dirty Roller Guide
If your microwave’s track is clear of obstructions but does not spin, your roller guide could be at fault. To inspect for dirt or damage, start by removing the roller guide cover (located beneath the turntable).
Examine the guide for cracks, frays, or tears. If it shows signs of wear or damage, you’ll need to replace the roller guide. However, if it appears clean and intact, check my next suspect- the tray Support.
4. The solution to Broken Tray Support
It is the tray’s cornerstone, bearing the weight of the contents as they rotate above. However, it can weaken over time, causing the turntable to wobble or stop spinning entirely.
To fix this, pull off the coupling holding the tray in place. Inspect the support for fractures, wear, or corrosion and replace it if necessary. I also wipe down the wheels with a damp cloth to get rid of any crumbs that may interfere with rotation.
5. Solution for a Faulty Tray Coupler
The final cause of a non-rotating turntable is the coupler. This part connects to the drive motor, relaying the power to the turntable. If the motor spins but the tray doesn’t, the coupler is to blame.
Disconnect the microwave to avoid electrocution, and locate the coupler. In most models, it is found on the underside of the tray. Inspect it for cracks, bends, or wear. If the coupler is damaged, you’ll need to replace it.
Do All Microwaves Have Turntables?
The answer is emphatically no; not all microwaves include turntables. Although most microwaves have a rotating plate, some models, such as the Flatbed microwave, do not.
So, does this imply your food won’t cook evenly? Not necessarily!
Flatbed microwaves use a distinct but advanced technology to cook your food evenly. Instead of a spinning platform, they rely on rotating antennae to distribute microwaves evenly throughout the cooking chamber. Some models even incorporate inverter technology, reducing power consumption while increasing efficiency.
In fact, flatbed microwaves are lauded for their ability to cook foods more evenly than traditional ovens or microwaves with rotary platters. They eliminate the hassle of constantly reheating your dinner and ensure it reaches the optimum temperature.
How Can You Protect Your Microwave Turntable?
Here are tips to help you maintain your microwave turntable and prevent it from breaking:
- Ensure the tray isn’t loaded with more than what is recommended for the weight limit. Excessive weight can damage the drive motor, break the mounting brackets, or overstress other parts of the appliance.
- Avoid placing magnetic objects on the turntable, such as metal spoons or kitchenware. Magnetism can interfere with the electrical fields in your microwave, resulting in sparks.
- Always allow your glass turntable to cool down before cleaning it. Hot water can cause cracks in tempered glass, resulting in spills and possible injury.
- Never microwave your food directly on the glass turntable. Doing so will result in splatters, resulting in an unsightly mess or damage to the interior of your microwave.
Video On How to Fix a Microwave Turntable that Won’t Spin
A turntable is an essential part of any microwave. Without it, the food will cook unevenly, resulting in an uncooked center or edges. However, if your turntable does not spin, it is not the end of the world. Just stir the dish through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.
However, it is recommended that you repair the turntable or replace the microwave entirely to avoid unnecessary risk. Identify why the turntable does not spin before making any repairs or replacements. If you do not have the necessary skills, it is always best to seek the assistance of a professional.