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GoodFerNuthin

GE Dual Wave III - Caught on Fire

30 posts in this topic

I don't have a good guess as to what might have caused this.  The microwave has a removable metal rack held by 4 clips, 2 on each interior side wall.  During use this evening, one of the clips caught on fire.  My wife was running it at the time.  She didn't say there were any sparks.  She said she heated some food and the plastic on one clip had started to turn black.  She took the food out and ran it again to have a look through the door, and it caught fire.

 

Any ideas what could cause that?? 

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I can't say why it was starting to turn black. I do know your not suppose to run the microwave without a load (something to absorb the energy). Chipped paint can cause problems or sharp metal ends.

 

Does the rack have sharp or chipped area near plastic clip?

 

Any chipped paint inside the oven?

 

What part (location) of the microwave caught fire?

 

Was it making any rattling, buzzing, or other unusual noise just before this occurred?

Edited by tpoindexter

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I talked to my wife again and here's her full story:

She was heating up some food.  When she pulled it out, she smelled burnt plastic and noticed the clip was black, but she hadn't been looking in the microwave while heating, so she didn't see it happen.  She removed the food and ran it for a few seconds while looking through the door.  During that time (about 5 seconds) either the clip or the rack began sparking and the clip caught on fire.

 

To answer your questions:

-There's no way to tell now if the rack was damaged at the clip, because it is now charred, and any damage that I will find by cleaning it might have happened during this event.  But... the rest of the rack looks to be in great condition.  There is no wear at any of the other clips.  The only imperfection I can see is a some wear at one corner of the rack (the opposite corner from where the fire occured.) The sharpest edges are the ends of the rack wires, which appear to be in factory condition, and they run from front to back of the microwave, so the ends are not near the clips, which are on the side walls.

 

-It is a somewhat old appliance, and there is some wear to the interior paint, possibly from the use of abbrasive cleaners.  A spot that stands out as exemplifying that is where some sheet metal bends meet, and there is a scuff about the size of the end of a pencil eraser.  I haven't spotted any interior rust, chips, or sharp edges.

 

-The part that actually caught fire is the plastic body of the clip.  There are 4 clips, 2 on each side wall.  The affected clip is the rear one on the left side.

 

-My wife didn't mention any noises or rattling.  Just sparks, fire, and then smoke.

 

I wonder if this is a case where we can just remove the rack and clips and keep on truckin'.  Is this a sign that there might be something mechanically or electrically wrong with the appliance, or is it just as likely that it has solely to do with the parts that actually caught fire?

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I believe your magnetron is arching to something, or itself is going bad. I personally wouldn't trust it until repaired.

But if you replace the magnetron and have any missing pait or sharp edges that aren't factory you'll end back up in the same boat.

Edited by tpoindexter

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What's your model number?

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I'll have to check the model no. when I get home from work. 

 

Regarding your second post and the magnetron, is it the general case that worn paint and sharp edges put a greater load on the magnetron, thus leading to death?  Or is there another reason that a new magnatron in a worn microwave leaves me back in the same boat?

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Regarding your second post and the magnetron, is it the general case that worn paint and sharp edges put a greater load on the magnetron...

 

, thus leading to death? 

 

Or is there another reason that a new magnatron in a worn microwave leaves me back in the same boat?

Yes, bare metal and sharp edges cause the magnetron to arc which can cause fires such as you've experience, or, the magnetron could have just cracked and started arching....

 

Not sure about that...

 

If you have bare metal that caused the arching then it will still happen with a new Magnetron. There is a special paint you can buy (white, or Ivory only) to reseal the metal.

 

Since I can't see it you might try the paint first and see if it still sparks. If it does then the magnetron may have a hairline crack in magnet or elsewhere.

 

Maybe one of the Pros on here might have another answer or more info, but, that's about the extent of my knowledge.

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Edited by tpoindexter

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Okay, so the model no. is J E1456KWH 02. Mf'd Oct 1992.

Given the age of it, I'm inclined to replace, if the bandaid repair isn't going up be as simple as running without the rack. And after having a better look at it, there are several more spots where the paint has worn through. It looks like someone was in the habit of slamming the rack against the back wall, and it took a toll on the paint.

It's been a long time since I've had to buy a microwave, and this one is a wall-mount. Any idea what took look for and what to avoid in a new model? If I have an idea what I have to spend to not get a P.O.S., I can make a more informed decision about how much effort to put into keeping this one alive.

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Just locally where I live in Oklahoma.

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I really doubt you have any problem with the mag tube.

 

The root cause of a problem like this is usually from not keeping the nooks and crevices clean.

 

Food splatter builds up and every time the unit is used this remaining matter is cooked more and more which changes it to charcoal which will attract the microwave energy to them causing the hot spots and eventual fire.

 

A good cleaning of the rack and replacing the burnt rack clip and full cleaning of the microwave interior will usually solve your problem.

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Budget may be right.

Did you try running it without the rack?

If so, any noises or sparks?

Edited by tpoindexter

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I'm torn, if the paint is worn down, like you can see bare metal, or chippin in the paint, I'd pait the cavity and test it first, then decide if it's still sparking I'd replace the magtube.

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Alright, it took me a few days to find the time to take pics and post again.  Here's the microwave, generally pretty clean, no charcoal:

photo1_zpsdeb59934.jpg

 

Here's the clip that caught fire (rear left).  You can also see where the rack has rubbed the paint raw on the back wall.  The clips don't really let the rack go back that far, so someone probably did a lot of fumbling when taking it in and out.

photo2_zps4d6a2775.jpg

 

Here's the other rear clip, and you can see the same wear.

photo3_zps83a22504.jpg

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To answer an earlier question, I ran it without the rack, and the clip started sparking within 2 or 3 seconds.  I did not run it long enough to listen for strange noises.

 

I had been pondering whether it would be worth trying to repair vs. replace, then I lifted up the glass plate and saw this:

photo4_zpsf7dbd26a.jpg

 

I'm gonna go ahead and say it's time for a new one.

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This is a built it microwave:

photo_zps52bfcbfc.jpg

 

So, of course, I've been looking at prices for built-ins.  :yikes:

 

It has me wondering about using a countertop unit in that space.  I saw a technical or service bulletin from Sears about trim kits for countertop models to serve as built-ins.  With the better selection and prices of countertop models, I'd like to know how many of them can be used that way.

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Okay, now I see.  If you price built-in microwaves, you'll soon start asking yourself whether you really needed a microwave to begin with.  But then you change your search terms to include countertop microwaves with optional trim kits, then things start to get more reasonable.

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good website with models, dimensions, options, multiple-choices drop-down-boxes, etc

http://www.ajmadison.com/

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Thanks.  Yeah, that's the website where I noticed the "Optional Built-in Trim Kit" search filter on the countertop models and had my "Aha!" moment.  I have some more digging to do there. 

 

They don't seem to be carried on that website, but I've noticed that Panasonic has trim kits, too.  Of course, I don't know if the microwaves are any good.

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I would stay away if they are "inverter" M/W's ..

model numbers ?

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Do not repair .........replace

 

Problems like this , once started can come back again and again

 

it's not your magntron

 

been down this road a few times with sales of used microwaves

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I would stay away if they are "inverter" M/W's ..

model numbers ?

Yeah, they all seem to list "Inverter Technology."

This one has the trim kit available: Model number: NN-SE982S

 

Honestly, I'd rather not pay $300 plus another $170 for the trim kit, anyway.

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Do not repair .........replace

Thanks for the advice.  It will be nice to upgrade to a post-1992 model.  Just have to engage in the "avoid junk" research.

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Do not repair .........replace

 

Problems like this , once started can come back again and again

 

it's not your magntron

 

been down this road a few times with sales of used microwaves

CB you sound like a guy that years of experience has brought you to the conclusion stated above.

When I read it I think to myself,

"Self, CB knows what he talking about. Wish he'd tell me what he thinks the bottom line is on this failure."

Then, I have another beer an figure it must just be fatigue.

Edited by tpoindexter

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Back in the late 70's we sold and serviced the Amana radarange line , this is when the doors hinged on the bottom and opened like a regular oven

 

Food splatters would hit the door and run down the plastic insert on the door , the problem the homeowner could not see them , so they sat there

this would start the sparking and burning the plastic door insert

once this started , cleaning , sanding , painting , some ovens just would not stop sparking to the same spot over and over

 

the strange thing is , you get a "sparker " strip all the parts out of it and install them in another micro that does not spark and it will work just fine

 

why ,,,,,,i don't know , it just works that way

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