The 4 Reasons Why Your Microwave Might Stop Spinning

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Popping something in the microwave is a luxury we all enjoy. From the college students living on microwave-everything to the chefs who sometimes just want a quick bite, microwaves are undeniably useful. Part of the functional design is the spinning turntable in the middle. That spin is not just to show off your food as it cooks. It’s to distribute the microwave’s heat evenly throughout the dish.

So when your microwave plate stops spinning, it can be a real problem. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to hunt down the problem and, most of the time, you can solve it quickly at home. Microwave plates stop spinning for one of four reasons, depending on what your microwave has been through. We’ll help you hunt down your reason starting with those easiest to fix. 

Safety First

Before removing any screws or prying any plates in your microwave, remember to pull the power cord. Never perform appliance repairs with the power connected. A good rule of thumb is that if you have a screwdriver in hand, the appliance cord should be visibly separate from the wall. However, if you are asked to test with a multimeter, the appliance must be plugged in and you should proceed with extreme caution. Consider wearing work gloves which may diffuse some shocks. 

1. Obstructions in the Track

The first and easiest cause to fix is a track obstruction. The roller guide and coupler spin in a track below your microwave plate. If crumbs, spills, or other obstructions get in the way of their circular journey, your turntable may stop spinning or experience a bumpy stop-start spin that does not cook the food evenly.

  • Investigate

Remove the microwave plate and examine the roller and coupler below. Test how they each spin independently, and if there is any visible food remnants in the way of the spin. Crumbs and sticky spills are the most likely to be a problem.

  • Solution

Thoroughly scrub the inside of your microwave, paying special attention to the roller track and the area around the coupler. Scrub around the coupler to get rid of any sticky residue. Do not soak the coupler, as there are electrical components beneath it. 

2. Dirty or Damaged Roller Guide

The roller guide is the circular or vaguely triangular object with small wheels that the plate rests on. The wheels must be able to roll smoothly in the track for the plate to turn. Just as obstructions in the track can stop the rotation, so can broken wheels.

If the wheels of your roller guide are broken or have become especially dirty, then your plate may have stopped spinning. A broken roller arm can also be a cause of unbalanced and rotation-stopping forces.

  • Investigate

Remove the microwave plate and the roller guide below. Closely examine the roller guide for signs of grime or damage. Consider if it is dirty, sticky, or if it has been broken in any way.

  • Solution

If it is dirty, wipe down the roller guide with a warm soapy sponge. If it is sticky, soak it in warm water for a few minutes first, then wipe it down. If the roller guide is broken, you’ll need to purchase a new one. Fortunately, the installation isn’t difficult. 

3. Damaged Tray Coupler

The tray coupler is the grooved piece in the center that spins on a motor. This is what conveys the turntable force to your microwave plate. The bottom of the plate and the top of the coupler must fit perfectly for the force to be conveyed correctly. If the plate resists too much because the force is unbalanced, then the coupler will stop trying to spin.

If the coupler is broken or ‘stripped’ (like the top of a screw), then it may not be conveying force correctly.

  • Investigate

Remove your microwave plate. Take a close look at the tray coupler in the center of the microwave floor. Determine if the coupler looks damaged, melted, dirty, or if the grooves have stripped out over time. Test by setting the plate on top and wiggling it. How much wiggle do you feel?

  • Solution

 If the coupler is dirty, it can be cleaned. But all other problems will need to be solved by installing a new coupler that will fit properly with your microwave plate. 

4. Broken Turntable Motor

If your microwave is clean, the guide is fine, and the coupler is firmly seated then the only final option is the turntable motor. This is the piece located beneath the coupler that provides the spinning force. Motors are electrical moving parts and they do wear out over time. Needing to replace your microwave motor is a very common repair. When a motor fails normally, it will fade and sputter out. However, your microwave motor can go out suddenly if something burnt it out.

  • Investigate

When the motor burns out, your microwave spin will slow down, become unreliable, and fade over time. Or you may notice an event of spin-resistance that directly damaged the motor. If you are confident with appliances and multimeters, you can check the turntable motor’s current.

  • Solution

You will need to replace your turntable motor. If you don’t have a multimeter but the other three options weren’t your problem, then there’s a good chance that the problem is your turntable motor. The turntable motor is underneath the coupler at the center of the microwave’s floor. 

What’s Wrong With Your Microwave Turntable?

The spinning plate of your microwave has faltered or stopped for a reason. In many cases, a quick sponge-down of the microwave interior is a good solution for plate spinning problems. Especially if you remember to swipe underneath the plate as well as the easier to reach microwave surfaces. 

If cleaning doesn’t do the trick, the replacement part might be something easy and straight-forward like the roller guide or the coupler. And if all else fails, it’s time to decide whether to brave an electrical repair DIY or call a professional to do the job with professional caution. For more appliance repair insights and guides, contact us today! 

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