Common Faults & Fixes For Commercial Kitchen Equipment: Microwave Edition

Microwaves are essential in any well-run commercial kitchen, but what happens when they break down? In the service industry, lost time equals lost money. And lost money equals unhappy servers, chefs, cooks, managers, and owners. But don’t worry – many microwave faults have a quick fix that you can try before you need to call in the big guns, AKA, CFESA-certified service technicians. The most popular brands of microwaves that we service at CPS include Amana, Sharp, and Panasonic microwaves. However, these tips and tricks are generally applicable to ALL commercial microwave systems.

Microwave Issue #1: Unit Does Not Have Power

  • If your microwave is plugged in but still doesn’t have power, check the high voltage fuse. If it’s open or blown, there can be multiple factors at fault, and you’ll need to contact a professional electrician for assistance. Otherwise, you might risk a shoddy repair job which can lead to kitchen fire, property damage, and threats to human life. If you need to purchase a replacement high voltage fuse, Amana makes a great option.

Microwave Issue #2: Food Isn’t Getting Hot

  • First of all, make sure there isn’t a metal utensil, pan, or tinfoil inside the microwave’s cook cavity. The metal will reflect the microwaves and prevent food from getting hot. Metal in the microwave can also lead to arcing and sparking, and it may even irreversibly damage your piece of equipment, forcing you to buy an entirely new system. If you can’t find any metal and your food still isn’t getting hot, call for service request.

Microwave Issue #3: Arcing/Sparking In Cook Cavity

  • Arcing happens when you see sparks or flashes within the microwave oven, and it’s caused by electromagnetic waves striking a metallic or reflective surface. Again, check for metal and tin foil in the cook cavity. If you can’t find any, then take a look at the top grease shield to make sure it’s still in place. Food particles may build up on the top of the cook cavity and stirrer antenna over time, which can also cause arcing.

Microwave Issue #4: Ceramic Turntable Is Cracked

  • Some people mistakenly think a ceramic turntable is a nice-to-have, not a necessity. However, the turntable ensures food continuously rotates in the microwave and cooks uniformly, without any dangerous hot or unpleasant cold spots. If the tray is broken, food can also build up on the stirrer antenna and cause a kitchen fire. When it comes to broken trays, do not DIY; it’s always best to order a new replacement part.

Microwaves are essential to any high-quality commercial kitchen or restaurant. And, fortunately, most faults have a quick fix. If you DO manage to fix your microwave issue without having to call in the pros, you should always check to see if it’s working properly before you rely on it for the busy dinner shift. According to GE Appliances, there’s a simple 3-step test that works the best:

  • Fill a glass bowl (preferably a 2-quart glass measuring bowl) with 1 quart of water that’s between 59-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat the water for exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds on HIGH (FYI – typically HIGH the default setting on microwave ovens).
  • If your microwave is properly up-and-running, the water temperature should rise in the range of 28-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re really in a pinch and you can’t afford to pause operations until your microwave oven can be assessed by a team of professional commercial kitchen equipment experts, you can usually get by with another piece of kitchen equipment for your heating needs. Of course, a traditional oven, stovetop, and deep fryer are also important for delicious dishes, but a microwave offers a holy trifecta of benefits you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere: speed, cost, and convenience.

  • Speed: Unlike a traditional oven or deep fryer that takes precious time to pre-heat, microwaves go to work immediately. Pre-prepped appetizers like soups, dips, and mac & cheese can be hot and ready to serve within a moment’s notice, keeping front-of-the-house customers happy, not hungry.
  • Cost: Microwaves have multiple uses; they can melt butter, defrost meat, steam veggies, etc. When you’ve got a high-quality microwave, you can eliminate unnecessary equipment and also save space. Plus, microwaves don’t produce external heat so you can keep your kitchen cool and save on HVAC costs.
  • Convenience: Did a server forget his or her order on the line? That’s ok, simply pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds for a piping hot plate. Without the convenience of microwaves, commercial kitchens would have to re-think their operations and would undoubtedly lose revenue as a result.

That said, if your microwave seems beyond repair, if you’re not an experienced electrician, or if you need it to be fixed in a timely manner, it’s time to call CPS. Not only do we carry ready-to-install commercial microwave parts from major manufacturers like Amana, Sharp, and Panasonic, but we also have 55+ CFESA-certified service technicians on staff who are available 24/7/365 for emergency repair, scheduled service, and regular maintenance of your company’s commercial kitchen appliances.

The food industry never slows down, but neither does CPS. We have three central office locations in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, Ohio, but we also have extended service areas in Delaware, Newark, Zanesville, Lancaster, Grove City, Mansfield, and Westerville, and we can also service regions of Indiana and Kentucky.

Give us a call or click here for emergency service today!


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