The indispensability of the microwave in cooking in minutes is useless when you encounter weird noises. Instead of getting speedy cooking and heating, it is annoying to continue when your microwave produces an unusual popping sound.
At most, you fear that your microwave is going to explode.
So, when you hear a microwave popping sound, like a popcorn pop, should this cause an alarm?
Let’s find out why.
Why Is My Microwave Making a Popping Noise?
Unless you are cooking actual popcorn, the popcorn kernel or corn kernel will produce those popping sounds.
Microwaves have a popcorn button that automatically sets the timer to less than two minutes. So, you should be using that for real popcorn.
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But try to remember what’s inside your Microwave: FOOD. When you turn on the microwave, it will start creating a humming sound, indicating that it is in the process of cooking. But a loud hum is odd.
Popping, sometimes crackling, or sizzling sounds can be heard while cooking because the heat rapidly increases the food.
Seems like you have microwave popcorn, right? No, you’re not.
Yet, the sound is totally normal.
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However, when the popping sound is louder than usual, you know there is something wrong. If the crackle or pop seems over the top, suspicious food burning is on the queue.
When the popping appears to be exploding, you get burnt food!
Why Does Ham Pop in the Microwave?
Ham is a food that is high in fat. So when you start applying heat to fat, it will turn to oil which causes the popping sound. It is similar to frying meat or any oil-based fool on a conventional stove. Oil starts to pop and shoot everywhere when overheated.
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A microwave makes popping noises and should not cause you to panic. Because, like any electrical appliance, your microwave will wear out through the years of constant use.
Now, let us go deeper into the reasons why your microwave is making a loud noise.
When Food Explodes in the Microwave
Science tells us that the process of heating food in the microwave is different from conventional cooking using a stove or oven toaster.
Microwave ovens use microwave radiation and electromagnetic radiation for cooking food. Food is more prone to explode because the microwave heat penetrates deeply into food, trapping heat internally to food with intact moisture in it.
Water trapped inside the food will expand when heated without a way for the microwave unit to release the heat because the door is tightly sealed, giving more focus and pressure on the food inside.
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PRO TIP: Poke holes on food with high-water content or on plastic wraps around frozen foods before heating them to prevent food explosion.
Common Microwave Noise and Reason
Microwave Making Popping Noise When Off
Popping and sizzling noise from the Microwave is a regular occurrence. As mentioned, food high in water content will have a chance to explode if not given proper attention.
Also, if the food is fatty, as in ham, the oils will cause the heat to create a sizzling noise. So it is essential to cover the food while it spins. But when the arcing or popping noise is heard, even if the appliance is off and is making strange noises, it means there is something wrong with its thermostat failing to run the vent fan on.
The microwave makes a loud popping noise when starting is normal as it begins to heat food.
Microwave Making Crackling Noise When Off
Crackling noise from your microwave, even if it is off sometimes, is a regular occurrence and because the unit is old or more than six years old.
A Whirlpool or GE microwave has a self-starting feature. Or, perhaps the crackling sound comes from a bad microwave diode. If the noise is somewhat electrical or magnetic, have someone check it right away. Or replace your old microwave oven.
Microwave Making Crackling Noise and Smoking
A crackling noise and sparking or smoking from your microwave oven means there is an electrical issue. The vent fan will release the heat but not smoke. Microwave sparking implies the reaction of metals against microwaves.
When there is smoke, there is fire, as they say. This indicates a serious problem with the electrical circuit and should compel you to call your electrical repair guy right away. A circuit breaker trip is a sign of overloading.
Microwaves Making a Clicking Noise When in Use
The magnetron tube is responsible for generating microwave power to cook food, and it should not create noise when there is no problem.
Clicking noise when cooking in the microwave means a bad magnetron because it has a hard time generating and transferring microwaves’ frequency within the unit.
Microwave ovens depend on microwave frequency because the heat transmission runs through shorter wavelengths.
Take Extra Precautions!
Make sure to unplug the microwave because check the high voltage capacitor, as this keeps a huge amount of electricity, and it must be discharged.
Sometimes the noise is a high-pitched clicking sound, and this should cause an alarm. Stop using the microwave when this happens.
PRO TIP: Microwave diodes are responsible and vital to the power converter that allows the magnetron to cook food. Replace burnt-out or damaged diodes to prevent damage and emergencies.
What are the Signs that a Microwave is Going Bad?
What are the signs that a microwave is going bad?
1. Old and Cranky Unit
Don’t wait until ten years before buying a new microwave oven. Modern units work better due to technological upgrades and are energy efficient.
Like convection microwave ovens, you can bake or roast food as they have a heating element and fan added. Say goodbye to your old loud unit to also protect you from electrical hazards.
2. Unresponsive Keypad
Microwaves look like modern ovens but are not because they differ in function and are commonly controlled using alphanumeric keypads.
Since the keypad control is digital, it is sensitive to touch. It requires only a slight push. If the keypad does not respond to any settings, ensure that you don’t press the buttons hard. It will confuse the machine with random commands from your fingertips.
3. Uneven Door Seal
Microwave doors should seal completely to cook food properly. Change broken or cracked doors to prevent radiation from escaping.
4. Sparking, Smoking, or Burning Smell
If your Microwave produces any of these sounds, unplug it immediately and call for repair or replacement. It is better to use a new microwave than settle on a unit that has many problems.
5. Rattling, Clicking, Buzzing, and Crackling Noise While Cooking
Check if the microwave turntable is correctly fixed in place so that when it spins, it will help the food cook with balanced heat. Sometimes a loose turntable will create a grinding noise but not a buzzing sound.
A broken vent fan or cooling fan also poses a danger in your cooking as your microwave couldn’t release heat as it should.
Now you know what’s good or bad for you and your microwave oven. Indeed, a microwave cooks faster than an oven toaster, but it will pose more danger than convenience if you are not familiar with your appliance.
Don’t wait for the moment for your machine to break but be familiar with its parts.
Noisy microwave parts will give you worries when they fail.
Microwave oven parts that can be a source of unusual noise:
- High voltage diode
- Vent fan
If one of these parts produces a popping, sparking, arcing, crackling, and is smoking, exploding inside, and smells terrible, it is better to replace your microwave than do a patchy solution of finding parts.
Don’t wait until scenarios get worse. Call your professional repairman immediately and settle for a more energy-efficient microwave for your safety.
Robert is an electronic engineer with more than five years of experience with a solid affinity for helping people reduce noise. He writes about these silent home appliances and easy soundproofing measures to help everyone avoid the negative effect of extended exposure to high noise levels.