LESLIE: Frieda from Ohio is on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
FRIEDA: Hi. My Amana Radarange microwave, it’s mounted above my stove. And on the bottom, the down light that shines down onto the stove, the light bulbs in that keep burning out. And I have to replace them about once a month and they’re getting expensive.
TOM: What kind of light bulb are you using? Just a regular incandescent?
FRIEDA: It’s like the R11, the little appliance bulbs? Forty watt?
TOM: And is this a fairly new problem, this once-a-month burnout, or has it been going on for a long, long time?
FRIEDA: It’s getting worse. I mean we’ve had the microwave in here – it’s probably about 16 years old or – give or take.
TOM: Yeah, that doesn’t really owe you any money. That’s pretty old for a microwave appliance. You’ve pretty much reached the end of a normal life cycle. In fact, I’m kind of surprised it lasted that long, because it’s been my experience that the microwave ovens that are mounted above ranges don’t last nearly as long as a countertop microwave. Because the additional heat from all that cooking has the effect of sort of wearing on those components.
Typically, when you get a bulb that burns out quickly, it’s either because you have a loose connection, you have a loose ground or you have a problem with the voltage that’s going in there.
Sometimes, depending on what’s happening with the power company, you could be getting, say, more than 120 volts. You might be getting 125 or 130 volts, sometimes, because there could be something that is bad down the line with the power supply – the quality of the power supply. So if you have extra volts going into those lights, that is one of the first things that tends to show it. It’s kind of like the canary in the coal mine. When the lights start to go – burn out frequently – like that, it could be an issue with the voltage.
So, have you been thinking about a new microwave?
FRIEDA: Not really.
TOM: What I would suggest is that at this point, you really need to have the voltage tested. So I would call the utility company and ask them to meter the voltage going into your house and see if it’s – let’s eliminate that as a possibility.
If that is OK, I would – the second thing I would check is the plug that it’s actually plugged into. I’d check the outlet to make sure it’s properly grounded. And if it’s properly grounded, then I think you’ve exhausted the two things that are the easiest to fix and at that point, you might want to think about replacing the microwave.
FRIEDA: Alright. That sounds good.