I guess you could say my dilemma started somewhere over twelve years ago when a Panasonic engineer in the microwave division made a poor decision. Then again, Panasonic continued to build these long after the defect was obvious. He may have received a hefty bonus for ensuring the microwave failed shortly after the warranty expired.

In my case, it popped up about two years ago, the dreaded door not closed failure. The door itself is closed tightly but the electronics don’t believe you. It reminded me of Dave’s interactions with the toaster on Red Dwarf.

Slamming the door will sometimes cause the internal electronics to reevaluate their opinion and allow you to enjoy a brief feeling of victory. It also relieves a small amount of frustration. Unfortunately, this technique only decreases the time before total failure of the microwave.

If you browse YouTube you’ll find hundreds of videos devoted to fixing this issue (well, it seems like hundreds). The switch assembly devoted to detecting an open door is mounted on a thin piece of sheet metal. Every time you close the door, you push the assembly slightly out of place. The resiliency of the sheet metal returns the switch assembly to its original position but metal fatigue means that the switch assembly slowly moves out of position. Slamming the door only accelerates this movement. Sooner or later the switch array no longer functions and you’re going to be eating cold leftovers.

Two years ago, convinced that the switches had gone bad, I opened my microwave up and was able to fix the problem with only a slight readjustment of the door switch assembly and a bend of the sheet metal to return the bracket to factory position. Seeing how poorly this was designed significantly reduced my respect for Panasonic. Huge  microwaves have prematurely been consigned to the dump because of this faulty design?

How did my wife turn this into a dilemma? Four days before Christmas, the Microwave refused to acknowledge its door was closed. I wasn’t greatly concerned, I knew what the problem was. An opinion backed up by all the Youtube videos on how to fix this. This time though, no combination of door slamming, switch adjustment or sheet metal bending would result in a consistent acknowledgement that the door was closed. Yes, I used an ohmmeter to verify the switches were functional.

Four days before Christmas, wife is responsible for Christmas dinner, not to mention she will also need to reheat all the leftovers and prepare nicely warmed Stollen from Swiss Pastry (a holiday favorite of mine) on the day after Christmas. I had no choice, my next actions were already written in the stars.

I won’t discuss all the Christmas spirit out there at three days before Christmas, nor will I bore you with a description of the very limited selection available for immediate purchase at my local hardware store. Suffice to say that I have a new microwave, it’s not Panasonic and you should always verify you have your credit card with you before embarking on a 30 minute drive to your local hardware store.

Still not seeing the dilemma? I have a brand new microwave that doesn’t require slamming the door. I also have a really nice microwave who’s only drawback it that it refuses to acknowledge the door is properly closed. The last few days have provided me with an intimate knowledge of the door mechanism. I know the problem is a poor design.

My engineering sensibilities deeply offended; do I develop an aftermarket kit to fix this issue? Five seconds of contemplation convinces me that’s a really bad idea. I can easily predict huge numbers of lawsuits for poorly installed kits. There’s a reason Panasonic used security screws to keep me out.

Do I fix my microwave thus having a spare when my current microwave reveals its particular brand of design defects. Being completely truthful with myself, I might get around to it around July of 2024.

Do I bypass all the protections and convert it to a short range energy weapon? Google Youtube and you’ll see what I mean but please delete all your browsing history first and make sure you tell everyone I recommended against trying it. For sure that path is out, even if I survived the initial tests, my wife would kill me.

There’s my dilemma. I can’t throw it away; I already know I can fix it. I would wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep as I cataloged all the possible solutions. I’m not so deeply offended that I would move it up in my current list of to do projects and what would I do with a spare microwave anyway.

Toss it, fix it or let it join my other forgotten projects, what do I do with the old microwave? Yep, in accord with current political practices everywhere, I’m blaming this dilemma on my wife’s need to cook Christmas dinner.

© 2022, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.