How can I check the magnetron in a home microwave oven? I have checked the HV (high voltage) transformer, the rectifier, and capacitor and all are OK. Does the magnetron output decrease with age? The oven has a hum that is much louder than normal. — AA, Ontario, CA
While I have only a little experience repairing microwave ovens, I can make reasonable guesses. The loud hum you hear is probably an indication that something is overloading the power transformer. That suggests that the diode, capacitor, or magnetron are bad. If you have checked the first two carefully, at full operating voltage, and found no problems, then I would suspect the magnetron. I have been told by a reader that magnetrons usually fail by shorting out, the result of electromigration of the filament material. The tube would then draw excessive currents from the high voltage transformer. That has probably happened in your case. Still, free advice like mine is only worth what you’ve paid for it. I’d suggest you consult a local repairperson, who has test equipment that can pinpoint the problem in seconds.