Why Does My GE Microwave Keep Tripping The Breaker?

Categorized as Microwave Repair and Troubleshooting
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It can be frustrating when your GE microwave suddenly trips the breaker mid-cooking. The power abruptly cuts out, dinner plans are disrupted, and you’re left wondering what’s going on with your appliance. Fortunately, there are some common reasons why your GE microwave keeps tripping the breaker and steps you can take to get it functioning properly again.

Key Takeaways

  1. Electrical overloads from too many appliances on one circuit are the most common reason GE microwaves trip breakers.
  2. Faulty components like defective switches, capacitors, and magnetron tubes can also cause tripping.
  3. Signs of faulty parts include loud noises, sparking, trips at specific times, and electric shocks.
  4. Magnetron leakage is dangerous and requires immediate professional service due to fire and electrocution risks.
  5. Loose internal wiring that contacts the case is rare but can cause trips and introduce shock hazards.
  6. Broken parts like faulty door switches and lights can lead to trips and further component damage.
  7. Call an electrician if you need wiring help, increased capacity, or recurring trips with no overload cause found.

What Causes A Microwave To Trip The Breaker?

Before diving into the specifics around GE models, let’s review the main causes of a tripped breaker from any microwave:

  • Electrical Overload – The most common culprit is the microwave overloading the circuit and drawing more power than the breaker allows. This can happen if too many appliances run on the same circuit.
  • Faulty Components – Issues with switches, capacitors, transformers or suppressors in the microwave can cause shorts and lead to the breaker tripping.
  • Electrical Leakage – Leakages from the microwave’s magnetron tube which generates the cooking radiation can also cause tripping. This introduces electrocution risks.
  • Loose Wiring – In rare cases, loose internal wiring touching the metal chassis can create short circuits.
  • Damaged Microwave – Problems with door switches and other components can lead to tripping when operating the unit.

Now let’s explore these common causes and solutions in more detail.

Electrical Overload Trips From GE Microwave

The most likely culprit for a tripped breaker is having too many appliances running on the same circuit as your GE microwave. Microwaves draw a lot of power, especially at start-up.

If the total load exceeds the circuit’s amperage capacity, the breaker will trip to prevent overheating and damage. This is an important safety feature.

What to check for an overloaded circuit:

  • Count the number of appliances, lights, and outlets on the microwave’s circuit. The more devices competing for power, the easier for an overload trip.
  • High-wattage appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators and hair dryers on the same circuit can push it over the edge when the microwave runs.
  • Overload trips are more likely when using the microwave and another device simultaneously, like the stove.
  • Older homes with outdated electrical systems are prone to overloads since microwaves require their own modern circuit.

How to fix an overloaded circuit:

  • Try plugging the microwave into a different outlet, ideally the only device on its circuit.
  • Unplug or relocate other appliances on the same circuit when using the microwave.
  • Have an electrician install a dedicated circuit for the microwave alone if overloads persist.
  • Upgrade your home’s electrical panel and wiring if needed to add circuits and increase capacity.

By reducing the overall load on the circuit, you can stop those annoying overload trips from your GE microwave.

Faulty Components In GE Microwaves

While overloads are most common, it’s also possible a faulty component inside the microwave itself can lead to a tripped breaker.

Microwaves contain many electrical parts that work together to power the device safely. If certain components fail, it can disrupt normal operation and cause a trip.

Problematic parts to check inside a GE microwave:

  • Switches – A door switch or interior control switch that’s defective or stuck can lead to tripping when operating the unit.
  • Capacitors – These parts help regulate and store energy. Faulty capacitors can short and blow the breaker.
  • Transformers – Transformers convert and control the electricity. Damaged ones can trigger trips.
  • Magnetron – This crucial component generates the microwave cooking radiation. Shorts and leaks here increase risks.
  • Suppressors – These safety devices prevent interference but can short and blow when failing.

Warning signs of faulty components in a GE microwave:

  • Tripping only when operating the unit versus just powering on.
  • Loud hums or clicks coming from the microwave before a trip.
  • The unit trips repeatedly at certain points during operation such as when cooking starts or the door opens.
  • Sparking or burning smells from the microwave interior.

How to fix faulty components:

  • Discontinue microwave use until inspected – Faulty parts can present fire and electrocution risks.
  • Contact a GE authorized technician for diagnosis and repairs. Most components require professional service and replacement for safety.
  • DIY repairs are not advised unless you are highly skilled in electrical and microwave repair. Proceed carefully and unplug the unit before doing any work.

While not as common as an overload, faulty parts can lead to annoying tripping. Contact a pro to determine if component issues underly the problem.

Electrical Leakage Trips In GE Microwaves

Another less likely but serious cause of tripped breakers is electrical leakage from the microwave’s magnetron tube. This high-voltage part converts electricity into the electromagnetic waves used for cooking.

Over time, the protective coating inside the magnetron can begin to break down. This allows leakage of microwave radiation and voltage spikes that can trip the breaker.

Warning signs of magnetron leakage:

  • The GE microwave trips the breaker immediately at start-up before any cooking.
  • You can detect buzzing or humming coming directly from the magnetron.
  • Sparks or arcing visible when operating the microwave.
  • Tingling sensation or electric shocks felt when touching the microwave exterior.

Dangers of magnetron leakage:

  • Greatly increased risk of electrocution from the microwave exterior or interior parts under voltage.
  • Potential radiation exposure above safe levels from the frequent leakage.
  • Fire hazards from voltage spikes and related shorts as leakage increases.
  • Magnetron damage can spread to other components like switches, wires and capacitors.

How to fix magnetron leakage:

  • Stop using the microwave immediately if leakage is suspected.
  • Contact a GE authorized service center to diagnose and replace the magnetron. Repairing tubes that leak is not possible.
  • Prepare for a possible full microwave replacement if radiation spread leads to multiple damaged parts.
  • Consider upgrading to a new, more advanced inverter microwave which generates safer, digitally controlled power.

While not the most likely trip cause, magnetron leaks present serious hazards and require professional service. Discontinue microwave use right away if you suspect a leak issue.

Loose Electrical Wiring In GE Microwaves

In rare cases, loose internal wiring making contact with the metal outer case can also lead to tripped breakers in a GE microwave.

Microwaves contain extensive wiring to connect all the components and controls. Vibration and normal wear over time can cause some wires or connectors to come loose from their mounts.

If any bare wiring then touches the grounded chassis, it creates a short circuit to the breaker trip switch. This is an important safety feature that prevents potential electrocution or fire hazards.

Signs of loose internal wiring in a GE microwave:

  • Trips for no clear reason despite low appliance load on the circuit.
  • The breaker is thrown randomly and sporadically versus consistently at certain actions.
  • Buzzing or clicking noises coming from inside the unit as internal wires vibrate and touch the case.
  • Tingling feeling if you touch the microwave exterior indicating live voltage present.

Dangers of loose wiring:

  • Potential for serious shocks or electrocution if you touch parts of the energized case.
  • Risk of shorts and sparks leading to fires inside the tightly enclosed case and components.
  • Further loosening of wires over time leading to more hazards.

How to fix loose wiring:

  • Stop using the microwave and unplug it immediately at the first sign of loose wires.
  • Contact a GE authorized service center to properly open, inspect, and re-mount all interior wiring.
  • DIY wiring repairs are not advised due to the technical skills and special tools required.

While occasional, loose wires must be addressed quickly due to the significant safety issues they introduce for users.

Broken Microwave Components

Finally, common damaged parts within the microwave like door switches can also lead to unexpected breaker trips while in use.

How door switches work:

Microwave doors contain special safety interlock switches that cut power when the door is opened. This stops radiation exposure. Upon closing, they reconnect power to the components.

Issues with faulty door switches:

  • Broken door switches can fail to cut power when opened. This leaves internal parts still energized and risks electrocution.
  • Malfunctioning switches can repeatedly connect and disconnect power when closed. This can blow the breaker.
  • Defective switches allow the microwave to operate with the door open, exposing users to dangerous radiation leakage.

Other broken parts that can cause trips:

  • Burnt out interior lights shorting to the case.
  • Damaged touchpad panels sending erratic voltage spikes.
  • Seized or broken fan motors overheating and overload tripping.
  • Loose internal mounts allowing components to shift and short.

Warning signs of broken microwave parts:

  • Sparking inside the unit.
  • Smoke or burning odors.
  • Doorswitches or handles that are very hot to the touch.
  • Microwave powers on but immediately trips when cooking starts.

Dangers of operating a microwave with damaged components:

  • Greatly increased risks of severe electrical shocks.
  • Potential for fires due to short circuits.
  • Harmful microwave radiation exposure.
  • Further damage to additional parts over time.

How to fix broken components:

  • Stop using the microwave immediately if any internal damage is suspected or if it operates abnormally.
  • Contact GE support or take to an authorized service center for proper diagnosis and replacement of damaged parts.
  • Carefully inspect the door seals, switches, and hinges to check for issues. Damaged or loose parts here are especially dangerous.
  • Prepare for a possible full unit replacement if repairs exceed 50-75% of the cost of a new microwave.

While less likely than overloads or leaks, broken parts can quickly create big problems. Discontinue use of any microwave with potential component damage.

Frequently Asked Questions About GE Microwaves Tripping Breakers

Getting to the bottom of why your GE microwave trips the breaker can be frustrating. Here are some of the most common questions homeowners have about resolving these annoying electrical issues.

Why does my GE microwave trip the breaker when I turn it on?

If the breaker trips immediately upon powering on the microwave, it likely indicates an internal component short circuit versus an overload issue. Defective parts like a seized fan, leaking magnetron or shorted wiring often cause instant tripping before any cooking starts. Contact a service technician to evaluate the issue.

Why does my microwave work for a while before tripping the breaker?

Trips that happen after a minute or two of normal operation often point to an overloaded circuit versus a faulty component. The extra load of the microwave running is enough to push the circuit over its rated capacity. Try plugging the microwave into a different outlet not shared with other appliances.

Why does my GE microwave trip the breaker when I open the door?

A malfunctioning door switch or interlock system is the likely culprit if the breaker blows when the door is opened. Power should cut when the door opens, so a switch failure could leave components still energized and shorting when interrupted. Have an appliance tech inspect the switches and door alignment. Discontinue use in the meantime.

Should I replace or repair my GE microwave that keeps tripping the breaker?

For newer microwaves just outside the warranty period, repairs may be worthwhile if it’s an inexpensive faulty part. But for older units with potential magnetron or radiation issues, replacement may be safer. Weigh the repair cost versus a new microwave, and factor in the age and condition of the unit.

Why does my GE microwave trip the GFCI outlet but not the breaker?

Unlike a standard circuit breaker, GFCI outlets also monitor current leakage and cut power in milliseconds if any is detected. If your microwave trips a GFCI but not the main breaker, it likely indicates some internal leakage current from the components, potentially the magnetron tube. Have it inspected immediately, as this presents a greater electric shock risk.

When To Call An Electrician For GE Microwave Trips

While many tripped breaker causes can be DIY diagnosed, an electrician should be involved in certain scenarios:

  • If you need to install a dedicated circuit for the microwave.
  • To increase your electrical panel capacity if you have chronic circuit overload issues.
  • To evaluate and resolve any loose wiring connections to the outlet used.
  • If the microwave outlet lacks a ground wire, presenting shock risks.
  • For recurring GFCI or breaker tripping with no overload cause found. This indicates an internal unit fault.
  • To fully isolate microwave electrical issues from other home wiring problems.

Electricians have the right tools and training to not only pinpoint if the microwave itself is the issue but to also address any contributing electrical problems in your home’s circuitry.

Conclusion

Having your GE microwave suddenly trip the breaker mid-cooking can certainly be annoying and disruptive. But in many cases, the problem is easily resolved once you identify the root cause.

  • Overloads from too many appliances on one circuit are the most common culprit.
  • Faulty internal components like shorted door switches or leaking magnetrons can also be to blame.
  • Very rarely, loose or damaged wiring may underlie the issue.

Start troubleshooting by reducing the electrical load on the microwave’s circuit. If that doesn’t resolve the trips, contact a qualified appliance repair expert to evaluate the unit for any internal defects needing replacement.

Act quickly whenever a microwave trips the breaker, as ignoring the issue raises fire and electric shock risks, especially if radiation leakage is involved. With the proper diagnosis and repairs, you can get your GE microwave functioning reliably for years to come.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!

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