Why Does My Microwave Get Hot, Even When Not In Use?

Categorized as Microwave Repair and Troubleshooting
Why Does My Microwave Get Hot, Even When Not In Use

If you’ve ever gone to grab something out of the microwave only to find it warm, even when it hasn’t been used, you’re not alone. Many people have experienced this issue, and it can be due to a few different causes.

In this article, I’ll go over some of the most common reasons why a microwave may be getting hot, even when not in use and what you can do to fix the issue.

7 Reasons Your Microwave Gets Hot When Not in Use

The following are some of the most common reasons why your microwave may be overheating when not in use:

1. The Magnetron Is Malfunctioning

A magnetron is an electronic device that produces microwaves. The resulting microwaves are then used to heat food quickly and evenly. Without a functioning magnetron, your microwave won’t be able to produce the necessary microwaves for heating food.  

If your microwave is getting hot, even when it’s not in use, it could be due to a malfunctioning magnetron. When the magnetron isn’t working correctly, it can produce excess heat which will cause the appliance to overheat. Overheating can damage the internal components of the microwave and lead to more serious problems if left unchecked. 

If you suspect that your microwave has a malfunctioning magnetron, it’s important to get it fixed as soon as possible. The best way to do this is by contacting a professional appliance repair service that can diagnose and repair the problem quickly and safely. Trying to fix the issue yourself could be dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced professionals with the proper tools and safety equipment. 

2. The Fan Isn’t Working Properly

Many microwaves come with a fan that helps cool down the interior components after each use. If the fan stops working or doesn’t work efficiently, then heat can build up inside the appliance and make it uncomfortable to touch.

This could be due to a clogged fan or a malfunctioning motor. In either case, it’s important to get the issue resolved as soon as possible before any further damage can occur.

3. Something Is Blocking the Vents

If something is blocking the vents of your microwave, then it’s not able to release heat efficiently. This can happen if you place something on top of your microwave (like a paper towel holder) or if there’s dust or debris blocking the vents. In either case, this prevents air from circulating properly and causes heat to build up within your appliance—resulting in a hot exterior surface temperature. 

To prevent your microwave from overheating, check for any obstructions near or inside its vents and remove them as needed. If there are any items stored atop or around your microwave, move them away from it so that air can circulate freely through its vents during operation.

Additionally, make sure that dust buildup isn’t blocking air circulation by cleaning out the interior of your appliance with soap and water every few weeks—this will help keep it running efficiently for years to come!  

4. It’s Overheating Due to Overuse

If your microwave is getting hot, even when it’s not in use, then it could be due to overuse. This is more likely to happen if your microwave is old. As microwaves age, the internal components wear down—which tampers with their efficiency and causes them to become hotter than usual.

If this is the case, then you may want to consider replacing your microwave with a newer model. This will help ensure that you’re able to get the proper cooking performance out of it. Or, if you’d prefer not to replace your microwave, then consider giving it enough break between usage and avoid running long cooking cycles.

5. The Space Around the Microwave Is Too Cramped

Another possible reason why your microwave may be getting hot is if the space around it is too cramped. When there’s not enough room for air to circulate freely around the appliance, then heat can build up and cause it to overheat.

If this is an issue, then you may need to rearrange the space around your microwave. Move any items that may be blocking air circulation away from it and allow at least a few inches of clearance on all sides. This will ensure that air can freely flow around your appliance and help keep it from overheating.

For small kitchens, it may be necessary to build a cabinet or install a shelf around the appliance to create a more permanent solution.

6. You Just Heat Food That Has Little to No Moisture for Too Long

Some types of food are more prone to overheating than others. For example, if you heat food with little to no moisture for too long, then it can cause the interior of your microwave to get too hot.

While many newer models have designed safety features that prevent this from happening, it’s still important to know what kinds of food are safer to cook and for how long.

7. Something Inside the Microwave Is Faulty

Finally, if all else fails and your microwave is still overheating, then it could be due to something faulty inside the appliance. This can mean anything from worn-out heating coils to a short circuit or something else.

If this is the case, the best thing to do is to take your microwave to a professional appliance repair service.

How Hot Should a Microwave Get?

The temperature of the walls of a microwave can range from slightly warm all the way up to hot depending on how long it has been running and how powerful it is. Generally speaking, if you place your hand an inch or two away from the surface of the wall and can feel warmth then that should be considered normal.

However, if you are able to place your hand directly onto the wall and can no longer hold it there due to excessive heat then this could be a sign that something may be wrong with your microwave. 

Overheating can lead to serious safety issues such as melting components or even fire. What’s more, using an overheated microwave could potentially damage its internal parts which may make it unusable or even unsafe for future use. 


There are a few reasons why your microwave may be getting hot, even when not in use. Some of these causes can be fixed relatively easily, while others may require more effort or replacement of the microwave itself.

No matter what the cause, it’s important to address this issue as soon as possible to avoid any further damage. If you’re experiencing this problem and need help troubleshooting it, reach out to a professional for help.

Related Questions

Why Does The Exterior of My Microwave Get Hot?

The exterior of a microwave oven can become hot when it is in use or has recently been used for long periods of time. This is due to the heat transferred to the exterior of the appliance when it is in use and it’s normal.

However, if the microwave is getting too hot, then it could be a sign of something is wrong and may warrant further inspection.

Is It Normal for The Top of My Microwave To Get Hot?

It is normal for the top of a microwave to get hot in certain areas. This is because the microwave contains a device known as the “nucotron”, which is responsible for emitting microwaves throughout the interior of the oven cavity. The nucotron generates heat and can cause parts of the top surface to become warm to the touch.

Is It Normal for The Wall Of My Microwave to Get Hot After It’s Used?

Yes, it is normal for the wall of your microwave to get hot after using it. This is due to the power transformer in the microwave that works to convert electricity that is supplied from your home’s electrical outlet into the form needed to power the appliance. While this process takes place, there will usually be some heat generated by the transformer.

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!