View Full Version : Dissecting an old microwave oven - Is it safe?

04-09-2015, 02:47 PM
So, like an idiot, I left my microwave sitting in the backyard and it got rained on. I'm not feeling real safe about using it again, so started to toss it in the dumpster.

But then I got to thinking, the magnetron must include a couple of good rare earth magnets, right? And there will be lots of coiled wire in the transformer that Celtling could use for arts and crafts.

Plus, taking things apart and looking inside is our kind of fun in general. It would be great to get a schematic, learn about the different parts and what they do, and then dig into them.

However, naturally there are a hundred warning stickers all over the thing telling you not to do this. Most of them warn of high voltage though, and obviously there will be no source of electricity attached.


Is there really anything dangerous inside of an unplugged microwave? Any reason I shouldn't do this?* Or specific units/parts within it which would be unsafe to open up and dig around in?


* Please note I have placed this in GQ on purpose. I'm not really looking for opinions on child rearing and whether I should teach my child that taking things apart is fun, or other more wide-ranging opinions. Just looking for factual information about microwave components to make sure we won't be surprised by a spray of battery acid, or even the mildest of radioactive materials, that sort of thing. Thank you for your consideration!

04-09-2015, 03:17 PM
There's a high-voltage capacitor that could still (very unlikely) carry a lethal charge.
Make sure you short its terminals out before you handle it.

04-09-2015, 03:41 PM
There are videos on Youtube about removing those magnets, I would start there. There was mention of some hazardous materials inside. I think you are ok as long as you don't do too much cutting/grinding on anything.

04-09-2015, 04:20 PM
Don't try to hook up the magnetron outside of the microwave and run it or anything like that once you start dissecting things. Other than that, the high voltage cap that beowulff mentioned is the only thing that can really zap you in there. The cap should have a bleeder resistor so that all of the charge is long gone, but there's no guarantee that they put a bleeder resistor in your particular microwave and even if they did there's no guarantee that it didn't fail at some point. Just short out the cap to be sure it's safe.

There are fun things that you can do with the high voltage transformer, but don't even think about connecting it to electricity unless you have a good idea of what you are doing.

Here's a nice web site to get you started:

And personally, I'm all for teaching your children to take things apart and figure out how they work, but then I am an engineer and I used to do that when I was a kid (it's part of the engineer mentality, I guess).

04-09-2015, 04:30 PM
Don't try to boil the fluid in your own eyes. At least not without taking them out first.

Dee Troit
04-09-2015, 08:56 PM
Be very careful when disassembling the magnetron! They can contain beryllium oxide ceramic insulators. Beryllium oxide is very dangerous if inhaled.(like if you break the insulator) Leads to berrylliosis, an incurable lung condition.

04-09-2015, 09:25 PM
Be very careful when disassembling the magnetron! They can contain beryllium oxide ceramic insulators. Beryllium oxide is very dangerous if inhaled.(like if you break the insulator) Leads to berrylliosis, an incurable lung condition.

Does anybody know how the magnets are likely to be attached? Will I have to pry them off and could this potentially scrape loose some beryllium? Because if so, the risk, no matter how small, is too much. At least, too much to include Celtling in the experiment.

Tom Tildrum
04-10-2015, 10:45 AM
TruCelt, you've heard from the engineers; now it's time to hear from a bumbler.

I'm honestly not writing to make fun of you. Like you, I am the kind of guy who could find a reason to take his microwave oven into the backyard and then forget about it and leave it there overnight. But because I'm that kind of guy, I really would not trust myself to also be the guy who disassembles the microwave and handles the deadly components inside. I envision myself holding up a magnet, only to have it suddenly yank itself across the porch and attach itself (and me) to the high-voltage capacitor, causing an electrical arc that sends up a cloud of beryllium dust. The more that the knowledgeable people in this thread keep commenting, the more this sounds like cutting up one of those poisonous puffer fish in search of a sliver of tasty sushi.

Best Topics: ww2 helicopter is this annoying male moose knuckles hydro transmission notary sojac heartbeat ear drum sensuous message senator security long overcoats men answered prayers capote archer framboise hospital toilet excalibur imdb glued binding buck stove thermostat robin tt female fluffers dachshund pronunciation conservative sociologists iran pronunciation walmart rat traps katana vs bear dear sirs alternative short bus special mulan's mom beetlejuice worms delta airline headphones cement mailbox skinnier fingers vadis latin nwa book odorless liquor the onion sucks radio transmitter walmart ghosting email man wearing baseball hat things that come in sevens where should i wear my pants you know what they call alternative medicine that works cyndi lauper net worth how long do chocolates last burger king flame broiled girl tied to train tracks latex fabric by the yard how did barbara jean on reba lose weight dr sbaitso text to speech is iceland a part of europe glue on back of credit cards if police raid and find nothing do guys like large labia minora what does ibn mean why do we pay for tv with commercials suicide by cutting throat car hesitates going uphill what makes pizza greasy songs with hey in them jaw out of place how to get an address for a piece of land how to play taps on the trumpet what is moses sons name arm hurts when i sneeze one night stand blowjob wall vents in old houses 43 year old woman high mass vs low mass pills get stuck in my throat diesel vs gas engine life expectancy