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RV Microwave Not Working? Try This!

RV Microwave Not Working? Try This!

The microwave oven is an appliance that contributes to the convenience of living in a home-on-wheels while traveling wherever your spirit leads you. But if your RV’s microwave isn’t working, the great conveniences of rapid heating, cooking, and defrosting are gone, and with it your ability to save propane by tossing something into the microwave for a minute or two instead of heating it on the stove. In today’s post, we’re offering several good ideas for troubleshooting an RV microwave that’s not working, so that if you ever experience this issue in your RV, you’ll know what to do.

My RV Microwave Is Not Working and Shows No Display or Interior Light

If your RV microwave isn’t working, the display isn’t illuminated, and the interior light doesn’t come on, here are seven ways to troubleshoot the issue.

Make Sure Your Microwave Is Firmly Plugged In

The first one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times people move straight to in-depth troubleshooting before making sure a non-working appliance is firmly plugged into the socket.

If your microwave is showing no signs of life, your first order of business is to make sure the cord is firmly plugged in. Don’t just take a peek at it and assume all is well. Unplug it and plug it back in firmly to confirm that neither your outlet nor the cord is the source of the issue.

Check/Flip the Breakers on Your Power Pedestal

RV microwave not working? Peter connecting power cord to shore power pedestal

If your RV microwave is not working and your rig is plugged into shore power, remember to check the power at the pedestal! Make sure your power cord is plugged in firmly, and flip the circuit breaker to make sure there’s not an issue at the pedestal itself.

Once you’ve confirmed that the appliance is firmly plugged into the outlet, step outside and move to your outside power source.

If you’re plugged into shore power at a campground, go to your power pedestal and check the breaker(s). Flip the breaker(s) off and back on again, then go back inside and check to see if your microwave is showing signs of life. If not, try plugging into another outlet on the pedestal or another power pedestal.

If your RV’s microwave isn’t working, but you’ve confirmed that your shore power source is functioning, then it’s time to check your house air conditioner.

Check Your House AC!

Now that you’ve confirmed that your microwave is firmly plugged into the outlet and all appears to be well at the power source, turn on your RV’s air conditioner. Why? Your microwave and your AC run on the same power supply. So, if the air conditioner is working, then theoretically the microwave should work as well. With this test, you’re attempting to isolate your microwave as the source of the problem.

If the air conditioner runs fine, then you’ve confirmed that the issue is with the microwave as opposed to an electrical issue affecting your RV’s entire 120V system.

If you turn on your air conditioner and it’s NOT working, then you’ll need to check the 120-volt power supply to your coach’s electrical system.

Check the Breakers In Your Power Converter/Breaker Box

If your microwave isn’t working, but your air conditioner is working just fine and the 120V power supply to the RV is A-okay, then move over to your power converter (or breaker box).

Here you’ll want to check to make sure the breaker that serves your microwave isn’t tripped. Even if it isn’t, try flipping the microwave’s breaker off and back on again, in case it was partially tripped and not sending power through to the appliance.

If you find that the breakers are all on and everything looks good at the converter/breaker box, it’s time to move to the GFCI outlets in your rig.

Check Your GFCI Outlets and Reset If Necessary

Check the GFCI outlet nearest your microwave to see if it needs to be reset. Not familiar with a GFCI outlet? No problem! We’ve got you covered.

Photo of a GFCI outlet

This is what a GFCI outlet looks like. Note the test and reset buttons at the center.

GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter”. It actually exists to prevent electrocution. The idea is for the GFCI to sense a problem with the electrical wiring (like a short) and cut off power to the outlet before you can be harmed.

GFCI outlets are most often installed where electrical circuits could come into contact with water, so there may be one in your kitchen near your microwave. GFCI outlets are a bit larger than a standard power outlet and have a reset (or testing) button in the center. Push the button to reset the outlet. It’s possible that your microwave will start working again!

If not, then move on to the next step…

Test the Outlet

If you’ve checked your outside power source to confirm that power is coming to your microwave from outside, it may be time to test the outlet into which your microwave is plugged.

There are a couple of ways of doing this, the first of which is the easiest.

If possible, plug your microwave into a different outlet. If it works in a different outlet, you’ve just ruled out the microwave itself as the problem and confirmed that you’ve got an issue related to the outlet.

To truly test the outlet, unplug the microwave and use a multimeter to check the voltage coming to the appliance.

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Follow the steps outlined in this post to safely test your power outlet using a multimeter. Be sure to take the safety precautions outlined in that post.

If you’ve confirmed that the microwave doesn’t work even when plugged into a different outlet, then your microwave likely either has a bad internal fuse or the appliance itself is the problem and requires replacement.

Check the Microwave’s Internal Fuse

If you don’t have the owner’s manual for your microwave oven, look online for a diagram for your make and model of microwave. Either of these should show you where the internal fuse is located. You’ll need to replace the fuse with a fuse that has the same rating as the one currently installed in the microwave.

RV microwave not working? Photo showing internal fuse of microwave oven.

If you’ve been able to confirm that your RV microwave will not work even when plugged into a working outlet with an appropriate power supply, then it’s possible that the microwave’s internal fuse is bad.

Now let’s take a look at some other symptoms of an RV microwave not working, and how to troubleshoot them.

My RV Microwave Suddenly Turns Off While I’m Using It

If your microwave suddenly stops working while in use, there are several issues that could possibly be at hand. Here are some steps to troubleshooting a microwave that suddenly stops in mid-use.

Make Sure the Microwave Is Properly Vented

It’s important for your RV microwave to be properly vented. In many cases, the microwave will shut down if excessive heat build-up is experienced (which can include heat generated by the stovetop beneath the microwave).

Check the venting of your microwave to make sure it has the ability to vent properly.

Your Microwave’s Wattage May Be Too High

Another possibility if your RV microwave shuts down while in use is that it requires more wattage than your power supply is providing.

This is not uncommon when people replace their rig’s microwave with one that requires more wattage than the original.

If you do need to replace your microwave, be sure to select a replacement of the appropriate wattage.

Issue With the Power Source

As we noted within the troubleshooting steps related to a non-working microwave above, if your appliance is plugged into a faulty outlet that isn’t providing sufficient power, your microwave could shut down in mid-session.

Here again, as with the issue noted above, you can check the output of the outlet with a multimeter following these steps. If the voltage is too low, the microwave won’t function properly in that outlet.

But this could also be an issue with the outlet your RV is plugged into at the pedestal. If possible, try plugging your RV into a different outlet, as the issue could be there.

Are You Running the Microwave on Generator Power?

RV microwave not working? Photo of a portable inverter generator powering an RV

If you’re using a small portable inverter generator, it’s possible that it can’t supply sufficient wattage to operate your RV microwave. If you’re using your RV’s built-in generator, there could be an issue with the power supply coming from the generator.

If you’re running your microwave on your generator’s power, it’s possible that the generator isn’t supplying sufficient power to run the appliance. If the generator is too small to supply the proper wattage, if there are too many other 120V devices pulling power, or if the generator requires maintenance, it may not be able to power your microwave.

The best way to test this theory is to either shut off other 120V appliances (120V water heater, switch your RV refrigerator to run on propane, etc) or obtain power from another source (like a power pedestal) and see if the microwave works normally.

Are You Plugged Into a 15 or 20-Amp Power Source?

Speaking of plugging into a power source, sometimes a 15 or 20-amp power source doesn’t supply sufficient power to run a microwave.

In this case, the main symptom could be a non-working RV microwave or one that shuts down due to insufficient power.

Again, the remedy here is to try another power source.

RV microwave not working? Photo of a campsite power pedestal with outlets identifiedwith all three sizes of plugs

Make sure you’re plugged into a sufficient power supply for the proper operation of your RV microwave oven. Sometimes a 15/20-amp power source will not be sufficient to power a microwave.

My Microwave Runs But Isn’t Heating Food

If your microwave runs but doesn’t heat your food, it’s time to replace your microwave.

Remember that not only do you need to measure your current RV microwave to make sure it fits in the space reserved for a microwave oven in your RV, but you should also match the wattage of the microwave originally installed by your RV’s manufacturer. The wiring and circuit breaker were sized to supply the power your original microwave required. Exceeding that could cause a dangerous situation.

You may want a working microwave so you can do things like this:

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Stan Morton

Tuesday 27th of September 2022

My issue turned out to be going breaker in bathroom. Reset and voila! Thx

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 28th of September 2022

Glad to hear it was a quick fix, Stan!

John Koenig

Sunday 27th of February 2022

Great corn tip. I've "nuked" corn on the cob for years now but have never tried (or even heard of) the "squeeze it out" technique. I'll definitely give it try!

Bill

Friday 25th of February 2022

Usually, in RV's I've owned, the Microwave plug is in an adjacent cupboard. Seems the simplest thing would be to plug a circuit tester into that plug to verify it has power. Even a simple ac device like a lamp will check to see if that plug has power w/o al of the steps outlined here. Start at the problem and work your way back.

Bill

Friday 25th of February 2022

That said, thanks for the process. It is a good trouble shooting outline.

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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