Monday, October 23, 2023

Your Magnatron And You

The Magnatron in your microwave is nothing to be trifled with.  If it starts to buzz, maybe it is time for a new Microwave.

When we bought our house in 2006, it had all new appliances.  They are now 18 years old and the design life is 15 years. So they are starting to fail, not by breaking down entirely, but by doing odd things.  The dishwasher started to leak and I found out it was a buildup of lime on the door seals.  The whole thing was a lime nightmare (we have fairly hard water) and I ran a load of lime-away through it (and wiped down the seals with it) and it seemed to solve the problem. That was a few years ago.

Since then, it has run OK, although I try to be gentle with it.  The white plastic is slowly turning orange and feels brittle.  It's days are numbered, but fortunately, dishwashers are pretty cheap.

The disposal - I wrote about that beforeMs. AOC should take note.  Again, a cheap appliance and easy to replace.

The refrigerator is working, but the "control board" loses its mind every so often.  The door seals (dutch door model) are wonky and you have to close it carefully or it goes ajar.  The "door alarm" sometimes works, but is very faint.  It cost over $900 in 2006, today they are close to $2000, although we saw some more spartan models for less than $1000.  And the good old two-box is still a few hundred bucks.  Counter-depth refrigerators always cost more!

The stove is a "slide-in" and most places only stock a couple of models.  We found one fairly cheap (Frigidaire) but only in stainless steel.  We'd either have to go all-stainless or do something else.  We will think about this.

The microwave broke in the first year and a technician from Sears Home Services came to fix it.  It wasn't from Sears, but one of Sears' bigger businesses was doing warranty work for all appliance manufacturers.  He replaced the Magnatron - the heart of any microwave - and that involved taking apart the entire thing down to the nuts and bolts. He scratched the stove doing this and then stole two of the stove knobs.   We called them out on the latter and he sheepishly came back the next day, claiming to have "found" the missing knobs in his toolbox (but originally claiming our stove was "like that" when he first came here.

The control panel on the microwave went nuts, turning the microwave on by itself.  I have an extra control panel as a result.  Not sure what I am going to do with that, now.  The stove panel also went nuts and frighteningly, started the oven on its own accord, more than once (!!).  Electronics - what's not to like?

So all four appliances should probably be replaced.  We already replaced the commercial ice maker, the most expensive appliance we own ($2000!).  But then again, it makes perfect Martini ice.  Priorities.

I looked online for diagnostics on the microwave.  Either the power diode is shot ($29) or the magnatron itself ($245). Either way, it involved a detailed teardown of an end-of-life appliance that, oh-by-the-way, has a giant capacitor in it, storing 5000 volts, even after the power is removed.  It is akin to tearing down an old television or CRT monitor - you can really hurt yourself.

If it is the magnatron, well, $245 nearly pays for, or actually buys, a brand-new microwave.

Did I mention the handle on the microwave broke off and I put it back together with superglue?  That was years ago, but in the interim, the plastic door is starting to crack in a few places.

No, it is beyond fixing.  The Weibull curve is about to jump up in my face. Time for new.  And maybe our local appliance place will offer us a deal if we buy all four appliances together.  And if we decide to switch to stainless (against my will - but it is oddly enough, cheaper than "white goods" these days!) it makes sense to change all at once.

And maybe time to paint the kitchen cabinets as well, with some new door knobs to go with.  Oh, shit, this starts to get expensive!

But it is inevitable.  A house is just a machine for living, and machines don't last forever, at least they don't anymore.

All that being said, this may have to wait until February or March.  Mark has a show coming up.

UPDATE:  We may try to find a used microwave in the meantime.  A lot of people get rid of working appliances when they decide to "go stainless."  Of course, it only makes sense to buy one of these used appliances if they are fairly new and also fairly cheap (under $100).  I have seen several on Craigslist, but a few of the sellers are clearly dreaming - you can buy a brand-new one for not a lot more than they are asking!