Luckily, the overall setup of a microwave oven hasn’t changed much over the years, making identifying and safely removing parts fairly easy. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to take apart a microwave oven safely and show you some of the design ideas the inventors came up with using the parts.
Before we begin, we need to discuss three important points:
- Microwaves are devices high voltage , which should never be disassembled while connected. In addition, color conventions for wiring may vary from country to country. Be sure to know exactly what you are looking at!
- A high voltage capacitor can cause a fatal blow even after like the microwave has been out for months. We will show you how to safely discharge these capacitors in this article, but they must be followed.
- The magnetron inside the microwave oven may contain beryllium oxide in ceramic insulators, which can be fatal upon entry into the lungs. Just remove it safely, but never try to take it apart. It’s not worth it!
Every time you consciously mess with high power, this at your own risk and potentially fatal. In short, be safe! Live to tinker another day! Now, with that said, let’s get started.
The first step is to find a microwave. You may have an old one that has been replaced — in my case, my neighbors got rid of theirs and left it on our stairs. It should be noted that this disassembly is not suitable for microwave inverter, because they work differently.
You don’t need many tools for this disassembly, although this can vary with different microwave oven designs. I found that this is enough:
- Phillips screwdriver with insulated handle.
- Pliers with insulated handles.
- Heavy duty insulated work gloves.
I have found that the gloves serve a dual purpose: not only do they protect me, but they also act as a good barrier between my hands and years of dirt built up inside the microwave casing. I also found it convenient to have a small bowl nearby to store all the screws.
In this case, the manufacturer kindly placed the internal electronics circuit on the back of the case.
Just in case you need a reminder soon, you don’t need to understand German to know that something labeled «Achtung» and «Warnung» could potentially be dangerous!
Screw here, screw there
Make sure the microwave is turned off.
I’m serious. Check. We can wait
Now start by removing all the screws you see on the outer case. You may find that the top of the shroud can be removed first with screws around the edges, giving you just enough access to assemble the parts without completely taking them apart, although some models are harder to crack than others.
Once you have the outer casing removed, you will be able to see the components. While the arrangement may vary, almost all microwaves have the same set of basic parts.
- Transformer (commonly called MOT).
- high voltage capacitor.
- High capacity compact thermostat (small black circular component).
- Front Panel.
The very first thing to find is a capacitor. This model was part of the fan assembly, although this may vary. Not touch the capacitor contacts under no circumstances! In case the image above is not clear, this is what you are looking for:
If possible, you should discharge the capacitor before removing. In this case, the capacitor was enclosed in a fan assembly, so it had to be removed before it could be discharged. Wearing gloves and holding an insulated handle, use a screwdriver or pliers to close both capacitor terminals. Hold it there for a few seconds to make sure it touches both pins accurately. When this happens, you may see a flash or hear a loud crack, so be prepared!
Magnetron, move over!
We will carefully remove it from the case, but only to gain access to the screws holding the transformer in place. If you can remove the transformer without removing the magnetron, leave it where it is.
Most magnetrons look like this and are attached to the main microwave housing with four screws. Carefully remove it, wrap it up, and set it aside to be safely thrown away later.
The high voltage transformer (commonly known as the microwave oven transformer, or MOT) is the real prize in this showdown. The MOT supplies AC power (here it may be 240V, it may be different for you) to the primary coil and through the electromagnetic induction stages which are turned on so that 1800 — 2800 volts comes out from the secondary coil. The more windings you have on the secondary, the higher the voltage and the lower the amplifiers, and vice versa.
High voltage transformers can be expensive items to buy for hobby or home use, but with careful IOT modification can be used to provide a wide range of different power requirements.