Because microwave ovens have circuit boards, including solder potentially containing mercury and lead, they cannot be disposed of in your curbside recycling or garbage. Discarding one is also difficult because some electronic recycling facilities accepting computers do not accept microwaves. A funded system for electronics such as computers and devices with screens does not provide similar coverage for companies or nonprofits to accept microwaves.
Instead, the most convenient option may be to use an electronic waste drop-off site. The largest local facilities are the Pollution Prevention Center near Ojai, Del Norte Regional Recycling and Transfer Station in Oxnard, Gold Coast Transfer and Recycling in Ventura, Clean Harbors in Camarillo, and the Thousand Oaks Service Center. You can find more about these and other options at the County Public Works website, www.vcpublicworks.org; click on “recycling programs” then “household hazardous waste.”
Another option is repair. Online shops selling replacement parts have great websites explaining simple repairs for household items like microwaves. Following their directions, you can determine the problem, order the right part and make the repair.
In some cases, you can solve microwave problems yourself without any interaction with electronic parts. For example, the most frightening of all microwave problems is when your oven arcs and sparks, but this may simply be caused by pieces of metal sponge left behind during cleaning.
It could also be caused by a corroded, cracked or chipped microwave guide cover. The guide cover is a clear plastic square fitted into a holder on the inside wall of the oven. Replacing it requires no more contact with electronics than you might have if you were just placing food inside your oven.
You can order a new guide cover by finding a vendor for your brand and model. You can find out your brand and model by looking for the identifying information plate, usually located on the outside of the door frame or the inside frame where the door closes.
My wife and I did this repair, and the hardest aspect was obtaining the part. Although I ordered from a parts company with the word “quick” in the business name, the part I needed was out of stock and took three weeks to arrive. Fortunately, it came with clear instructions for removing the old cover from its housing and fitting the new one.
A repair like this is easy because it requires no contact with electronics. For repairs to the touchpad, drive motor or other, more complicated parts, unplugging your microwave may not be sufficient prior to work. Instructions from repair companies will guide you through discharging a voltage capacitor as a cautionary measure if that is necessary.