The capacitor is an important and dangerous part of a microwave. It contains high electrical power that can give a strong shock even if the microwave is unplugged. To save yourself from such a life-threatening electric shock, you should discharge your microwave capacitor before doing any repairing task.
What Does a High Voltage Capacitor Do in a Microwave?
A high voltage capacitor plays an important role in supplying enough amount of electricity to the microwave. The main part of the microwave is called magnetron which generates electromagnetic waves (microwaves) to heat food from all directions inside the microwave oven.
The magnetron requires around 240V electrical power but the standard power supply from any wall outlet is 120V. Therefore the manufacturer adds a high voltage capacitor that can receive and store electrical power and increase it to meet the requirement of magnetron to run the microwave properly.
Without a capacitor, the magnetron cannot generate enough amount of heat to cook the food or beverage. So, the capacitor is a very important part of your microwave, it contains a high amount of electrical power/energy that it supplies to the magnetron to generate heat waves to cook/heat up the food.
Why Do I Need to Discharge My Microwave Capacitor?
You need to discharge your microwave capacitor before trying to repair or replace any part. Because the capacitor contains high voltage electrical power that can give you a strong electric shock when you check the microwave parts to find a fault.
The capacitor of a microwave contains high amount of power that is useful to run the microwave oven properly. But it is also dangerous when it comes in direct contact with any human body. So, you need to be very careful with your microwave capacitor.
The electric shock from the capacitor is quite dangerous, it can also cause death. Therefore I strongly recommend to discharge your microwave capacitor safely and properly before you start checking internal parts for faults or malfunctioning.
How to Discharge a Microwave Capacitor Safely
With proper knowledge and necessary tools, you can discharge a microwave capacitor safely. It is a simple task but you need to perform it carefully otherwise it will either damage the capacitor or you will end up hurting yourself.
I have a long experience of using a variety of smart microwave ovens and I also replace microwave parts on my own. Therefore I know the safest way to discharge a microwave capacitor that I will share with you.
Here I provide some simple methods for discharging a microwave capacitor as follows.
Method-1: Discharge a Microwave Capacitor Automatically
The first method to discharge a microwave capacitor is very simple. It does not require much efforts or any technical skills. If you know how to use a microwave oven then you can discharge its capacitor by yourself.
You should unplug the microwave power cord from wall outlet and keep it unplugged for 7 to 10 days. If you keep your microwave cord unplugged from the wall outlet for more than a week, its capacitor will get discharged automatically.
It is the easiest way to discharge your microwave capacitor without taking any risk. But you must have patience to follow this method as it takes at least 7 days for automatic discharge of a microwave capacitor.
Method-2: Discharge a Microwave Capacitor with a Screwdriver
The first method is useful for people who can wait for minimum 7 days to get the microwave capacitor discharged automatically. Not everyone has that much time and patience to wait for a whole week. So, I have found another method to discharge a microwave capacitor manually with a screwdriver.
Tools Required for Discharging a Microwave Capacitor
- A Flat Head Screwdriver with Insulated/Rubberized Handles
- Needle Nose Pliers with Rubberized Handles
- Rubberized Work Gloves
- A Torque Screwdriver (Optional)
You should have above mentioned tools to discharge a microwave capacitor safely and properly.
Step-by-Step Process to Discharge a Microwave Capacitor Manually
When you have all required tools handy, you can start the process of discharging your microwave capacitor. Here I provide some quick steps that you should follow to perform this task safely.
Step-1: Unplug the Microwave and Wear the Gloves
The capacitor in your microwave receives electrical power from the wall outlet. So, you have to unplug the microwave to stop the power supply to the capacitor. Once the capacitor stops receiving more power, you can proceed to discharge it by emptying its stored power.
You should wear the rubberized gloves in hands to protect yourself from electric shocks during the process.
Step-2: Remove Turntable, Roller, Bottom Panel and Door Grills
After unplugging your microwave, it’s time to remove some outer parts. You should remove the turntable, roller, bottom panel and behind the door grills carefully.
You are going to open the microwave cabinet, these outer parts can get damaged during the process. Therefore it is important to remove them and keep at a safe place to put them back in the microwave when you are done.
Step-3: Open the Microwave Cabinet
Now, you should open the microwave cabinet with help of the screwdriver and other tools, if needed. You should refer the user manual to know how to open the microwave cabinet and do it slowly to prevent damaging the cabinet or any internal part.
Step-4: Locate the Capacitor
The location of capacitor is different in every microwave oven. Even two microwave models of the same brand may have different locations for the capacitor. So, you must refer the user manual with instructions or tutorial video/pictures to find out the exact location of capacitor in your microwave.
Step-5: Place the Screwdriver on Both Terminals of the Capacitor
Generally, a capacitor has two terminals. The terminals can be open or covered with plastic/rubber tubing. If the capacitor terminals are open, place the metal part of the screwdriver on both terminals at the same time.
If the microwave capacitor terminals are covered with plastic tubing, use the needle nose pliers. Place the metal part of needle nose pliers on both terminals at once. Make sure that you are safe while doing this task.
Step-6: Wait for 5-6 Seconds or Until You Hear a Pop Sound
When you place metal part of the screwdriver or needle nose pliers, you will see some spark of shock circuit which is obvious. Wait for 5-6 seconds or more until you hear a pop sound that is easily noticeable.
If your microwave capacitor has 3 terminals, you can discharge it using the same method. Just hold it for a few seconds and you will hear the loud pop sound to inform you that the capacitor is completely discharged.
Step-7: Ensure that You Have Finished the Discharge Process
The microwave capacitor can take maximum 20 seconds to get fully discharged. After you hear the pop sound, make sure that the capacitor does not have any power. You can place the metal part of the screwdriver on both terminals of capacitor to confirm if it is completely discharged.
In this way, you can discharge a microwave capacitor safely and properly. Thereafter, you can proceed to repair or replace the faulty part(s) of the microwave. Once, the repairing is done, pack the microwave cabinet and put back the outer parts. Finally, plug in the microwave and start using it again.
How Long Does It Take to Discharge a Microwave Capacitor?
It takes around 5 to 6 seconds to discharge a microwave capacitor. However, it can take longer up to 15 to 20 seconds if the capacitor is fully charged or the capacitor is bigger in size & power capacity.
Most capacitors have two terminals but some capacitors come with three terminals. So, you may need to discharge such a capacitor by placing metal part of the screwdriver on its 2 of 3 terminals at a time.
So, the capacitor with 3 terminals will take longer up to 15-20 seconds to get completely discharged.
What is a Capacitor Discharge Pen?
A capacitor discharge pen is a tool especially designed for safely discharging a capacitor. You can use it to discharge the capacitor of a microwave oven or any other gadget/appliance.
The capacitor discharge pen comes with two poles such as positive and negative poles in the shape of pen. It contains either a buzzer or a voltmeter to indicate the capacitor discharging status so that you can know when it is safe to touch your microwave capacitor.
Many experts recommend to use a capacitor discharge pen instead of a screwdriver because the discharge pen is safer option for the user.
Is It Safe to Repair a Microwave without Discharging Its Capacitor?
NO, it is NOT safe to repair a microwave without discharging its capacitor properly. If you try to repair a microwave without discharging the capacitor, it will be extremely dangerous because the capacitor has high voltage electrical power.
The microwave capacitor stores electrical power to increase the power supply to the magnetron. When the magnetron receives high voltage power, only then it generate enough heat required for cooking/heating up the food.
When you remove the microwave plug from wall outlet, it stops receiving power from electrical system of your house. But the capacitor is still filled with high voltage power that you must discharge before you begin to repair the microwave.
In case you start repairing your microwave without discharging its capacitor, you will get an electric shock or multiple shocks. The intensity of shock can be high enough to hurt your hand and nerves. Such a strong shock can be dangerous enough to kill you instantly.
FAQs about Discharging a Microwave Capacitor
When you disassemble a microwave oven, you need to be very careful. The capacitor holds a high amount of electric power, so you must discharge it before you access it or other parts of the microwave.
Here I provide a few questions and answers about how to discharge a microwave capacitor safely and quickly. You should refer all FAQs carefully.
Q.1 How do you discharge a capacitor from a microwave?
You can discharge a capacitor from a microwave with help of a screwdriver, a pair of rubberized gloves and needle nose pliers. You can also use a capacitor discharge pen for the capacitor discharging process.
Q.2 How quickly can I discharge a microwave capacitor?
You can discharge a microwave capacitor as quickly as 5-6 seconds to maximum 15-20 seconds.
Q.3 How do you safely discharge a capacitor?
You can safely discharge a capacitor by wearing rubberized work gloves and using a screwdriver and/or needle nose pliers with rubberized handles.
Q.4 What size resistor do I need to discharge a microwave capacitor?
You need a resistor that can tolerate 3.5KV power to discharge a microwave capacitor. A standard screwdriver can handle up to 10KV power, so you can use it for discharging your microwave capacitor safely.
Q.5 How do I know if a microwave capacitor is discharged?
You will hear a pop sound when a microwave capacitor is discharged. If you use a capacitor discharge pen, you can hear its buzzer or check its voltmeter to know if a microwave capacitor is discharged or not.
Final Advice: Discharge Microwave Capacitor to Avoid Shocks
The microwave capacitor stores electrical power for supplying enough power to the magnetron. If you need to repair or replace any part of a microwave, you must discharge its capacitor first and then execute the repair/replacement process.
I have suggested two simple and quick methods for discharging a microwave capacitor safely. You should follow the automatic or manual method step-by-step to discharge your microwave capacitor to prevent strong electric shocks during repairing task.