When it rains, it pours. Microwave recommendations?

That’s true for Texas weather, but apparently it’s also true when appliances start breaking.

You probably remember that we replaced our washer recently.  Then the fridge.

I remember joking at some point that if the stove went out, we would have replaced every major appliance in the house.  The very next day, one of the burners died a dramatic death.  It quite literally exploded in a burst of light under the glass top with a loud pop or bang, depending on the level of drama you expect and tolerate from an appliance.

The rest still worked, so we didn’t panic.  We decided to look into repairing it ourselves, then the kids and I got used to cooking with 3 burners.  It was somewhere on my list of Things To Do.

Then yesterday, the microwave went out.  We use our microwave a lot, but the kids and I started talking about The Old Days when I was a kid, and what it was like to live without a microwave.  We used to heat Dad’s coffee a cup at a time in a saucepan.  Leftovers were eaten cold or warmed slowly in the oven.  Cocoa was made on the stovetop, whether you were making one cup or 8.   There was no such thing as microwave popcorn, not even on Friday nights when company came over for a movie.  That’s ok, because there were no DVD players or VCRs either. (“What’s a VCR?”)

I thought it might be fun to spend a few days researching replacements rather than having Perry pick one up on his way home.  After all, the last one was probably less than a year old (note to self: keep better track of receipts).  We could rough it without a microwave for a little while.  Fun, right?

Late last night, I remembered that I had bread rising for tonight’s dinner.  I popped it in the oven and set a 25 minute timer.

The window in our oven door is entirely blacked over with…something.  I run the cleaning cycle regularly, I promise.  That window has never been see-through-able.  So I was slightly alarmed when I saw light through the window.  I heard a slightly alarmed voice next to me.  “Mom?  Something is on fire in the oven!”

I opened the door and flames were leaping and fizzling from the lower element.  I closed the door to think for a moment.  I opened it again and watched as the fire worked its way from left to right – at least it was travelling in a sensible direction.  Perry looked curiously in my direction.  “Is the bread done already?”

“No, but the oven is on fire.  It’s the element.”  I took the half-cooked bread out and closed the oven again as we considered what to do.

After a moment, Perry went to the breaker box and turned off the power to the range.  I put the bread back in, hoping the residual heat would finish cooking it.  As we headed to bed, we agreed that maybe I should expedite the microwave research.  I might also expedite the shipping on the 2 parts for my range, assuming they won’t cost more than a replacement range and we can replace the burner in a glass top range ourselves.

Have you had your microwave for several years?  What brand is it?


  1. I’m no expert, but with all those appliances breaking in a short time – have you had your wiring checked? It is unnatural for so many large appliances to break in such quick succession! Maybe something else is going on.

    We don’t have a microwave either and I’m not planning to get one but more because I wouldn’t know what to do with it!

    • Heidi,
      I did ask myself if that might be the problem, but most of the problems weren’t electrical in nature. They had more to do with the age of the appliances and the ages of the people using them.

  2. I feel your pain with appliances. My husband has a theory that many appliances have a built in obsolescence after about ten years. He developed this view after our first ten years of marriage when just about everything we owned (wedding presents) seemed to die at once. As we have just hit 20 years of married bliss we’re waiting for the next lot of carnage!


  3. Ahhh air popped popcorn… how do I miss thee! *drool*
    Ahem what was I about to say? Oh yes which microwaive…
    I’m with the ladies that got the cheapest whatever half a dozen years ago and it’s still going strong. When we got married almost 9 years ago we got a little Sunbeam from Wally World and it’s still going strong. It was the cheapest one they had- I wanna say $15. Might have been $20. Now I *could* live without it, and that’s why I said to go for the cheap one when we got it, because I didn’t like them. But then it just kept going and going and going… and now 9 years later I really think I would miss the thing even though I only ever use it like 3 times a week for reheating leftovers for lunch.

    • Just for the record we very rarely do microwave popcorn. I was going for drama. We’ve been without a microwave for – how long now? And so far it’s been a small crimp in our lifestyle but not as big a change as I thought. Nonetheless, we’ll probably replace it. Soon. Someday.

  4. We have one but don’t use it! (built-in above the stove)
    Perry, you are a smart man – do the research on them before purchasing. Buy an air popper for popcorn.
    Our family did some experiments years ago & as far as time wise the stove was as fast or sometimes faster at heating things up.

  5. ha ha. I had to laugh at Perry’s response!
    That sounds just like my husband! I’ve been reading up about microwaves and mentioned to my husband that I wanted to stop using mine. He didn’t like the idea very much. Interestingly, mine gave up on me a few weeks ago and we’re doing without anyway because we can’t afford to buy one. Mine is a big one above my stove with a fan built into it, so it would be expensive to replace. I just have to remember to give myself time to heat up leftovers in the oven…it works great, just takes a little more time. I don’t do microwave popcorn because I’ve heard too many bad things about microwave popcorn…we love the popcorn popper I have now. 🙂

  6. Our microwave is a Samsung, and it’s at least 20 years old. Scott got it used when he was still single. For popcorn we use an air popper that belonged to my great-grandmother–she died 14 years ago so I’m guessing it is about 20 years old too. Wow. I’m old.

  7. We recently had a fire-in-the-range experience. Ours was the element, an easy fix.

    No microwave recommendations, we haven’t owned a microwave in more than 10 years. (Well, there is one downstairs that the previous owners of this house left when they moved out.)

  8. Let me add-it helps to know how you use microwaves. My criteria is: 1. must be large enough for one large bowl of leftover casserole to heat for lunch 2. must melt/soften butter for baking or toast 3. must reheat coffee or heat water for tea 4. must make homemade microwave popcorn (1/2 c regular popcorn in brown bag, pop 2 minutes or until finished popping, pour butter and salt in, shake. yum.)
    My little yardsale find does these 4 tasks. It’s ancient and we’re best friends.

  9. The longest lasting and best quality microwaves available are the ones you pick up at yardsales. Cost effective, too. That’s where I bought mine. And it’s my theory. They may not look modern but they built things to last longer when they made these cast-offs. I’d go yardsale hunting and take one of those babies home.

  10. Oh, and by the way, we are a family of 10 – so it is possible to go without even with many!

  11. I’m in agreement with many of you – no micro! I think they are a bit scary and if you read any study of what happens to your food in there you probably won’t want to use it!

  12. We have a Kenmore that we received as a wedding gift just shy of ELEVEN years ago and it’s still going strong!

    It’s been on 3 long distance moves and many more cross-town moves.

  13. Roxie Meiske says:

    We got our microwave oven more than 28 years ago when we first married. It was the first thing we brought together as a couple. It worked fine till I gave it away to Goodwill last year. It was HUGE. It was so old…it was so heavy. I admit I used it more for a bread box than a microwave. (I hid the loaf of bread in it to keep it off the counter top) Now that we do not have a microwave oven I do not miss it one bit. There is a pop corn popper, a toaster oven or the big oven if I need it…

  14. Kim, I had to laugh about what it was like when you were a kid. You are only a few years older than me, but I grew up with a microwave…it was huge in comparision to even the largest of todays models. We also had a microwave popcorn popper. Any way. We have a Panasonic (the genius senor) 1300 w. I LOVE it. We use it all the time. Especially since the element on our oven is broken. We have had a couple of panasonics and they are good. The only reason we have had to replace it was because one of our children decided to turn the microwave on with nothing in it.. It happened a couple of times and we always caught it and stoped it but the last time we didn’t catch it quickly so it didn’t work after that.

  15. Mrs. Bowen says:

    We were given a GE as wedding gift 10 years ago and it’s still kicking.

  16. My husband (good, gracious man that he is!) hates microwaves, but to make my like simple, he allowed our family of 6 to have one. We used it a lot, and I knew the disadvantages, but never thought I could handle life without one! Well, I recently came to the end, and sold the appliance. I told him, “You’re gonna have to remind me why I did this when I come to you in tears because I want another one!” Well, it’s been about a month now, and certainly, I’ve had a few aggravations, but no tears. I think I CAN live without a microwave! 🙂 You should look into it. Give it a good try, and see if you can handle it too. 🙂

  17. another Lora says:

    We had a Whirlpool microwave that survived (thrived, even) for almost 20 years. After it died a couple of years ago, DH replaced it with another Whirlpool. Sounds like a washer to me, but the microwaves of this brand have worked for us:-)

  18. wendy greenspan says:

    we have kenmore appliances (from sears) and have always had good luck with them – we use our microwave all the time – could not be without it- my oven is a combination oven/convection oven which i love- convection cooks faster and keeps things much more moist(i do not use that part for baking)

  19. With much gratitude for all of you health conscious ladies who read my sweet wife’s blog, let me just say that as teh paterfamilias of this clan I am not prepared to live without a microwave yet.


  20. We’ve had ours for for 7 years. It’s a Kenmore (pretty stainless steel but not very expensive). We’ve been very happy with it. I refuse to say that it is still in great condition or that it has given us no trouble because I don’t want to catch the breaking-appliance disease. 🙂

  21. Clay had ours when we first got married (which makes it at least 11 years old). The display hasn’t worked since we kept it storage during a hot summer 9 years ago but it still runs and warms (really fast actually). Its a Sharp.

  22. Gotta go with Marci. We put ours out by the curb. I read up on it and it scared me. We have a toaster oven instead.

  23. Looks like I’ll be the unpopular one here 🙂
    …but it would be hard for our family of 10 to do without our microwave….. there….I said it.
    We just have an el-cheapo from Walmart, but it has lasted us for several years.

  24. Would you believe that we just bought the cheapest that Kmart had to offer – it is a Sanyo & has lasted for years (although we really don’t use it very often – you get used to using your oven for things instead).
    I’m sure you will find the right one for your family – hope this is the end of the run of things breaking down for you.
    Have a great day

  25. Ours is a General Electric over the stove/with a fan (Spacesaver) and it’s worked for a few years…it was a replacement for the other GE microwave that I killed. My kids are too small for me to blame anyone but myself: I accidentally put it on “cook” for 5 minutes (with nothing inside) when I meant to set the timer for 5 minutes (to time something on the stove or in the oven). Turning on a microwave with nothing in it is a sure-fire way to kill it immediately (in case this might have been the cause of your microwave’s untimely death…and you want to avoid it, which I’m sure you do!)

    BTW, I don’t cook popcorn in the microwave…can’t stand the smell and the fake butter. I make popcorn on the stove-top and use a little oil and salt. I use the microwave to steam broccoli and other veggies, heat water for my tea and warm up my baby’s frozen food cubes.

  26. We’ve always had a microwave, but mine died two weeks ago and I don’t think we’ll get a replacement.

    I’m loving the extra counter space and it just is one more thing to clutter up the kitchen. However, our usual Sunday evening tradition of family movie night with microwave popcorn will be difficult. I know at least 7 kids that will be expecting a good substitute. 🙂

  27. I hate the idea of a microwave, and should say to you, “forget the microwave! Just replace the oven with a really nice one!” But, I know that no microwave is not a reality for everyone (including me, I use mine all the time). The only advice I have is to stay away from LG appliances. My dishwasher, fridge, oven, and microwave are all brand new (well, now they’re almost 4 years old), and I have had problems with every single one of them. Grrrr!


  28. I keep telling myself that once this m’wave dies I won’t replace it. We’ll see if I stick to my guns when the time comes. FYI – it’s a G.E. and has lasted forever.

  29. I’ll also go unpopular and say no microwave. I don’t ever remember having a microwave in the house, and we don’t even have a microwave in our current house, and we’ve been here 10 years. My sister and I don’t even know how to use one! Microwave popcorn? What’s that? We always make our with a popcorn popper. Easy. My vote is to replace the oven. 😉

  30. I agree with Marci, however, dh likes microwave and we have GE Spacemaker XL 1800, have had it for at least 5 years and it has survived 3 long-distance moves!

  31. Have you thought of getting a convection oven/microwave combo?

    My in-laws have one and it’s great. They cook roasts and ham in it all the time and they always turn out perfectly.

    It also re-heats things really well and evenly and makes a mean bag of pop-corn.

    I’m not sure which brand they have, but I’m sure there are alot of reviews out there to help find the best one.

  32. I will be the unpopular vote here and say go with no microwave. I am not sure they are healthy to have around and do some research on microwave popcorn. You will never eat it again. 🙂

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