Why Won’t The Microwave Door Open?

You paused the Friday night movie to make a quick batch of microwave popcorn. The microwave timer goes off after a couple of minutes and, with the buttery aroma wafting through the kitchen, you try to open the microwave oven door. It won’t open. Why is this happening? Did you close the door too hard before pressing the start button? Has there been some kind of electrical failure inside the unit? Whatever the reason, that plumped-up bag of popcorn is now trapped inside.

While a microwave door being stuck closed won’t always happen with heated-up food trapped inside, it’s a problem that can occur. In fact, Repair Clinic knows of six different reasons why a microwave door will fail to open. We’ll get to those right after a brief overview of how a microwave oven’s door is related to the unit’s operation.

What happens when the microwave door closes?

It seems obvious that the microwave oven door should be closed during the cooking process, simply to keep the radio waves (and the heat) from escaping the oven cavity. But the way a microwave is designed, its door must be closed before the unit will operate at all. When the start button is pressed, the appliance’s control board will allow 120 volts of alternating current to be sent through a line fuse, a cavity thermostat, and multiple door switches, before the current reaches the high voltage components that will ultimately create the radio waves to cook the food. If the door has been left open, those multiple door switches won’t be actuated which will interrupt the current and prevent the microwave from operating. This is why a microwave failing to work is often the fault of a defective door switch.

6 reasons why the microwave door won’t open

Some of the same components that keep the door sealed during operation could also be responsible for preventing the door from being opened again. The following are the six potential issues you should investigate if you are unable to open your microwave oven door:

  1. Broken door hook or latch – The microwave oven door’s hook or latch is the part that secures the door when the unit is operating. If the hook or latch is broken, it may not allow the door to release. These pieces are usually made of plastic and can become brittle over time. If you’re in the habit of slamming the door closed before or after using the microwave, you can easily damage these components. Fortunately, replacement door hooks and door latches are relatively inexpensive and not that difficult to install for a dedicated DIYer.
  • Damaged door interlock spring – Depending on the model, the microwave’s door interlock spring could be damaged or misaligned which can prevent the door from opening. Again, a broken interlock spring can be replaced with a new one to resolve the issue.
  • Defective release lever – The mechanism may have failed if your microwave model has a door release lever. Replacement door release levers are available for installation to solve the problem.
  • Faulty door release button – Often, the door release lever is actuated by pressing a button. If that button becomes jammed or damaged, it may be unable to actuate the lever to release the door. Again, a replacement door release button can be installed to fix the problem.
  • Failed door release button spring – A door release button will usually have one or more springs installed on the backside to push the button back out after it is depressed. While a damaged spring will most likely just cause the button to become stuck, it has the potential to prevent the button from actuating the door release lever which will … yes, prevent the door from opening. You can usually replace the door release button spring or springs independently of the button.
  • Broken latch actuator – The latch actuator, a plastic piece that is actuated when the door hook is engaged, can become brittle over time and break. Depending on the model, you may be able to replace a broken latch actuator with a new one to resolve the problem.

Fixing a broken microwave oven door

Once you’ve completed the diagnosis, Repair Clinic.com has the resources to help you fix your broken microwave oven door. Explore the website’s “Videos & Articles” library for step-by-step microwave repair instructions, including how to replace the door release lever in a Frigidaire microwave (model FPMO227NUFA) and installing a new latch actuator for a GE microwave (model DVM7195DF1BB).

A few words about microwave repair safety

Because of the high voltage and high current used by microwave ovens, be aware that repairing this appliance poses a substantial risk of injury or death if precautions are not taken. You should always unplug the microwave before you attempt any disassembly.  Since high voltage capacitors used in microwaves may retain a charge even after the microwave has been unplugged, we recommend that only experienced professionals access and replace internal components.

Make sure the microwave capacitor is discharged

If you do need to access internal components, you should make sure the capacitor is fully discharged immediately after removing the microwave’s shroud or cover. While most high voltage capacitors used in recent microwave models have a bleeder resistor in them that should automatically discharge the capacitor after the voltage has been discontinued, it’s always a good idea to confirm this by attempting to discharge the capacitor manually. This can be done by placing a screwdriver blade or needle-nose pliers across each set of capacitor terminals. The handle of the screwdriver or pliers should be insulated, and you should avoid touching the metal portion of the tool when the tool is in contact with the terminals.

Repair Clinic stocks genuine OEM microwave oven parts

It’s important to buy the right replacement door latch, latch actuator, release lever, button, or spring to ensure the microwave oven door will open and close as intended. As your repair partner, Repair Clinic.com is ready to assist you. Simply enter the full model number of the microwave in Repair Clinic’s “Search Parts Online & Get Answers” search bar to see a complete list of parts compatible with that model. You can then use the “Part Category” filter (“Latch”) along with the “Part Title” filter (“Door Hook”) to locate the specific part you need.

Repair Clinic stocks only original manufacturer replacement parts that match the most popular microwave models such as those built by GE, Samsung, Whirlpool, LG, Kenmore, Frigidaire, and Panasonic. Genuine OEM parts plus hundreds of instructional videos, articles, diagrams, and schematics add to the confidence you need to fix the microwave right the first time.

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