Microwave Buttons Not Working? (here’s why & what to do)

Most of us rely on our microwave to save us time on cooking and reheating food and drinks. The microwave in my kitchen gets used every day and I would find it difficult to live without it now.

If the buttons on the microwave stop working it renders the appliance useless which would be inconvenient to say the least. In this article I look at the reasons why the buttons might have stopped working on the microwave and offer solutions to these issues.

Why Have The Buttons On The Microwave Stopped Working?

Over-the-Range Microwave

There are really only five reasons why the buttons on the microwave might stop working which are;

  1. The delay start mode has been activated
  2. The child lock has been activated
  3. The control panel or touchpad are defective
  4. The membrane switch has failed
  5. There’s a problem with the control board

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues;

The Delay Start Mode Has Been Activated

If your microwave has a delay start function and it has been activated, the buttons will be unresponsive. You can either wait for the allotted time to pass, press the cancel button to deactivate the delay start or reset the appliance.

How To Reset The Microwave

To reset the microwave all you need to do is disconnect the power supply for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the time has passed, the appliance should have returned to its original factory setting and the buttons will respond.

The Child Lock Has Been Activated

Microwaves are fitted with a child lock which is a safety feature designed to prevent damage or misuse by inquisitive children messing with the buttons. If the child lock has been activated, the buttons will not respond at all.

Check the display screen and look for a key symbol or the word “Lock” this indicates that the child lock has indeed been activated. Consult your user manual for specific instructions on how to deactivate the child lock on your microwave.

Some have a designated child lock button, while others need certain buttons pressed in a certain way. Some Panasonic microwaves require the stop/cancel button to be pressed three times consecutively for instance.

The Control Panel Or Touchpad Are Defective

Samsung microwave

The control panel and touchpad are responsible for transmitting your commands to the control board. If the control panel or touchpad become defective, the buttons won’t respond or send any messages to the control board.

This means the microwave won’t function. There are a few things likely to cause this which are;

  • Old age and wear and tear 
  • An electrical problem
  • Accidental damage due to spillage etc

The best way to tell whether the control panel or touchpad are at fault is to try testing each of the buttons. If some of them work it’s likely that there’s a problem with the control panel or touchpad.

I recommend contacting a technician to replace the control panel because it is dangerous to work on microwaves if you don’t know what you’re doing. The capacitor can hold on to an extremely high charge for an extraordinarily long time after the power supply has been disconnected.

If you decided to replace it yourself however, here’s how to do it.

How To Replace The Control Panel

  1. Disconnect the power supply by removing the plug or flipping the circuit breaker to off
  2. Allow a couple of hours (longer is better) for the power to discharge
  3. Remove the front grill of the microwave
  4. Remove the microwave’s cabinet to gain easier access
  5. Remove the front panel
  6. Locate the touchpad membrane and peel it off the control board
  7. Stick a new membrane onto the control board 
  8. Reattach any wires that were removed 
  9. Replace the front control panel
  10. Reassemble the microwave’s cabinet and front grill
  11. Once the microwave has been reassembled correctly, plug it back in and see if your work has been successful.

A Brief Word About The Capacitor

The capacitor in a microwave can hold onto an electrical charge for up to 48 hours in some cases. This is why I always recommend getting an experienced technician to investigate any component of a microwave that necessitates dismantling the appliance to get to.

If you decide to do it yourself, I recommend allowing the full 48 hours to discharge the power from the microwave’s capacitor or discharging the capacitor yourself. This can be done by connecting a light bulb to the capacitor and allowing the power to run out.

The Membrane Switch Has Failed

Microwave

The membrane switch is a thin plastic layer with a conductive coating that sits between the control panel and the circuit board. Every time you press a button on the touchpad it connects to the membrane switch which triggers the corresponding area of the circuit board.

This signals the control board to perform the action associated with that button and the microwave starts operating. If the membrane switch fails, the buttons on the control panel fail to work properly or at all.

This can be caused by a buildup of grease or moisture, old age and wear and tear or accidental damage. If you suspect the problem could be due to a failed membrane switch, I recommend contacting a technician to investigate.

This is because microwaves hold on to electrical charge for a long time after the power supply has been disconnected. This means that unless you know what you’re doing you could cause serious harm to yourself, your microwave and the electrical circuits in your home.

How To Replace The Membrane Switch

If you decide to tackle this job yourself, you should;

  1. Unplug the microwave to allow power to dissipate
  2. Wait at least 2 hours for the power to discharge
  3. Remove the microwave cabinet to gain access to the internal components
  4. Locate the membrane switch and remove the wires
  5. Use a multimeter to test for continuity
  6. If it fails the continuity test, the switch will need replacing
  7. Once you have removed and replaced the switch, replace the cabinet, plug the microwave back in and test that it works

There’s A Problem With The Control Board

microwave

The control board is responsible for controlling every function and component of the microwave. This means that if there’s a defect or malfunction in the control board it could prevent the buttons from working properly or at all.

The control board can become damaged due to a power surge, overheating or some other internal faults like a burnt out wire or connection.

While the control board on a microwave is easy to locate and access, I do not recommend investigating or replacing it yourself. This is due to the length of time the capacitor can hold onto an electrical charge which could prove fatal if you don’t know what you’re doing.

How To Replace The Control Board On A Microwave

However, if you do want to replace the control board yourself, you should;

  1. Disconnect the power supply by removing the plug or flipping the circuit breaker to off
  2. Allow a couple of hours to pass (to let the electricity discharge)
  3. Remove the microwave cabinet
  4. Locate the control board and remove the screws holding it in place and disconnect the wires attached to it
  5. Remove the old control board
  6. Replace the control board with the new one
  7. Replace the screws to hold the control board in place and reconnect the wires
  8. Replace the microwave cabinet
  9. Plug the appliance back in or flip the circuit breaker to on

The microwave should now function properly, if not, it’s definitely time to contact a technician or get a new microwave.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Microwave Touchpad Not Working? (this is why)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the touch panel on my microwave not working?

If the touchpad on your microwave isn’t working it is probably because; the delay start mode has been activated, the child lock has been activated, the control panel or touchpad are defective, the membrane switch has failed or there’s a problem with the control board.

What causes a microwave touchpad to become defective?

If the touchpad on your microwave is defective it is probably because; the touchpad is old and has been worn out, there’s an electrical problem or there’s been some sort of accidental damage like something spilt on it.

How do I reset my microwave control panel?

To reset the control panel on your microwave, simply unplug it for around 10 to 15 minutes. Once you restore the power the control panel should have reset.

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