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Old 07-21-2013, 12:56 PM   #1
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


My son and I just installed an 1100-watt GE Profile Above-the-Range microwave oven I purchased from Sears. Model #JVM3670SK06. It was originally a floor model on clearance that's never been installed.

Anyway, the microwave was functioning fine for about a week. However, late last night I noticed that the display went blank and none of the buttons worked. I unplugged and plugged the unit back in to reset it. The clock on the display reappeared and asked to be set.

After setting the clock, I noticed some additional strange behavior. When the microwave door was closed it would make a buzzing noise and apparently the magnetron would turn itself on, without being activated by the control panel. When I opened the door the buzzing would stop and the bottom of the glass plate would be very warm, almost hot.

I am still able to use the microwave using the control panel, but basically it's now ALWAYS ON, so I had to unplug the unit. It's still under the manufacturer's warranty and GE is coming to take a look at it tomorrow, but I'm curious if anyone has experienced something similar with their microwave, and if so, can help me identify the problem.

Any ideas?

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Old 07-21-2013, 05:47 PM   #2
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Probably took an electrical hit and main board is malfunctioning. If they are coming tomorrow no need to worry right?

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Old 07-21-2013, 06:28 PM   #3
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


I guess not, but if it was a power surge I wonder if that's covered under the manufacturer's warranty? The outlet it's connected to is a 20-amp dedicated microwave outlet, but it's not GFCI and it's not surge protected. Should it be?
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:21 PM   #4
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Whole house surge protection in the main panel is the way to go these days.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:09 AM   #5
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Self-starting microwaves are far more common that you would expect. Consumer Reports magazine did an article about the issue a while back. I don't recall exactly what the cause is, or if it's the same cause for different brands. But a number of houses have caught fire after the microwave turned itself on when nobody was home. Oddly, there has been a similar issue with some dishwashers catching fire. I think there's even a class action lawsuit about that.
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:42 PM   #6
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
Self-starting microwaves are far more common that you would expect. Consumer Reports magazine did an article about the issue a while back. I don't recall exactly what the cause is, or if it's the same cause for different brands. But a number of houses have caught fire after the microwave turned itself on when nobody was home. Oddly, there has been a similar issue with some dishwashers catching fire. I think there's even a class action lawsuit about that.
That happened to my in-laws.

They happened to get awakened by it in the middle of the night. They went into their kitchen and the microwave was so hot they couldn't even lay a hand on it.
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Old 07-23-2013, 06:39 PM   #7
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Nowadays electronics of any kind (or anything that contains electronics) may exhibit random malfunctions, and they do. Satellites die, nuclear power plants suddenly shut off, Toyotas go into uncontrolled acceleration and tear down the road until they hit something...it's all very real. The NASA scientists found those Toyotas were going out-of-control due to finer-than-a-hair metal filaments called Tin Whiskers. NASA has a whole website about it and there's hundreds of Government and Industry scientists and engineers that have been working on the issue for over ten years. One of the engineers has a fairly readable website about it---www.tinwhisker.us Fascinating.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


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Nowadays electronics of any kind (or anything that contains electronics) may exhibit random malfunctions, and they do. Satellites die, nuclear power plants suddenly shut off, Toyotas go into uncontrolled acceleration and tear down the road until they hit something...it's all very real. The NASA scientists found those Toyotas were going out-of-control due to finer-than-a-hair metal filaments called Tin Whiskers. NASA has a whole website about it and there's hundreds of Government and Industry scientists and engineers that have been working on the issue for over ten years. One of the engineers has a fairly readable website about it---www.tinwhisker.us Fascinating.
Wow! That is fascinating stuff and explains why I've noticed more electronics failures today versus the past.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:42 AM   #9
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


If you buy anything with electronics in it, buy the Extended Warranty, whether a microwave or a car. Make sure it's a Manufacturer's Warranty, not a Store Warranty. They are selling for typically six to ten percent of purchase price, yet there's a thirty percent chance something in the electronics will fail in 5-6 years due to a Tin Whisker.

Manufacturers don't want to admit this is a problem and so they don't price this huge risk into the warranty. No one wants to admit their electronics have this problem, being all afraind of the Predatory Plaintiff's Lawyer and product-liability lawsuits, and so no one wants to be the first to publicly admit it, raise their prices a bit and use more reliable electronics that don't have this problem. All the technical stuff is on the NASA website if you want to learn more.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:45 AM   #10
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pro Painter View Post
If you buy anything with electronics in it, buy the Extended Warranty, whether a microwave or a car. Make sure it's a Manufacturer's Warranty, not a Store Warranty. They are selling for typically six to ten percent of purchase price, yet there's a thirty percent chance something in the electronics will fail in 5-6 years due to a Tin Whisker.

Manufacturers don't want to admit this is a problem and so they don't price this huge risk into the warranty. No one wants to admit their electronics have this problem, being all afraind of the Predatory Plaintiff's Lawyer and product-liability lawsuits, and so no one wants to be the first to publicly admit it, raise their prices a bit and use more reliable electronics that don't have this problem. All the technical stuff is on the NASA website if you want to learn more.
I used to stay away from factory warranties, but rest assured I'm getting one for my microwave. I did see the NASA stuff. Very compelling.

BTW, I'm not sure this contributed to the failure of my particular microwave since it was manufactured in 2012. It seems like it takes a while for the tin whiskers to grow to the point where they create an issue.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:59 AM   #11
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


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Probably took an electrical hit and main board is malfunctioning. If they are coming tomorrow no need to worry right?
You guessed correctly. It was the main control board.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:01 AM   #12
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


check with your credit card first, some auto extend manufacturers warranty.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:02 AM   #13
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrossley2 View Post
You guessed correctly. It was the main control board.

Lucky guess that's all it could have been.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:04 AM   #14
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrossley2 View Post
I used to stay away from factory warranties, but rest assured I'm getting one for my microwave. I did see the NASA stuff. Very compelling.

BTW, I'm not sure this contributed to the failure of my particular microwave since it was manufactured in 2012. It seems like it takes a while for the tin whiskers to grow to the point where they create an issue.
The time between when a manufacturer assembles something and when the component was made might be weeks, or even a few years or more. There's something called a "supply-chain", that is parts being made, stored in a distributor's warehouse, eventually moved to a manufacturer's warehouse, and finally used to make something. It can take weeks or years.

What I found in some of the papers on the NASA website is that tin grows whiskers sometimes promptly, and sometimes slowly, and sometimes there's a ten-year dormant period and then they start growing. Or, maybe in three years or one. Sometimes they only wait a few days and then grow an eighth of an inch in a few weeks. NASA admits they cannot predict what tin-plated part will whisker sooner, or later. About the only sure thing they found is that if some parts from a production batch start whiskering sooner, or later, or at some time, other parts from that same production batch are very likely to do the same. Not guaranteed, just very likely.
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Old 08-04-2013, 01:55 AM   #15
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Haunted GE Microwave Oven turns itself on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrossley2 View Post
You guessed correctly. It was the main control board.
As it turns out, it wasn't the main control board. Our microwave is still exhibiting the very same problem as before. Unfortunately, I wasn't home the day the GE serviceman made the repair. My wife said he demonstrated that the microwave was functioning before he left.

When I dug a little further I found out that his first attempt at powering on the microwave resulted in a tripped GFCI circuit in our kitchen. He then attempted to connect the microwave to a second GFCI circuit and apparently was able to get it to work.

When my sons and I reinstalled it over the range and plugged it into a microwave specific, non-GFCI outlet the microwave promptly shorted out and refused to operate. I checked the outlet with a circuit tester and it's functioning fine. besides, that's where the old microwave was plugged in and worked for 6 years.

I unplugged it let it sit for about an hour and it came back to life, but had the very same problem as before. Very weird. To me, it sounds like some sort of a grounding problem. Why would a device trip a GFCI circuit and then fail on a non GFCI circuit?

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