Can a microwave malfunction and start leaking radiation? And is there any way to tell?

What happens if you're in the same room or standing next to it?

  • In what way is the microwave "broken"? Is there damage to the door or the mating sealing surface? Does the door close and seat fully? – ThreePhaseEel Nov 26 '17 at 15:02
  • Non detectable. Old age – larry909 Nov 26 '17 at 18:58
  • 1
    If it's not damaged, there's no reason to think it would be leaking. Old age does not make it any more prone to leak. If it were damaged, junk it and buy a new one makes sense - if it's not damaged, use it until it dies. – Ecnerwal Nov 26 '17 at 20:56

Simply wave a fluorescent tube around the micro when on, any leaks will illuminate the tube. Of course, if you find something, get it replaced ASAP. The radiation is not the cancer-causing ionizing radiation, but it can easily damage the blood vessels in your eyes and cause other minor burns.

EDIT: I should mention that skin burns, even minor ones, raise your lifetime risk of skin cancer.


If the metal grid in the door is intact and the outer metal case it should be fine, one way I have seen used was to clip the leads off a neon lamp if the lamp flashes it is getting hit by microwave radiation. Or to buy a detector. Depending on the amount of energy being released it can be a simple warming effect to burning, the eyes would be at the biggest risk of damage since they are the closest to water and are very delicate. If you have concerns it would be safer to not use it, but if the grid and case are undamaged there is no way for the energy to escape. Microwaves run at approx 2.4Ghz the length of a single wave would be under 6" and the height or amplitude is based on the power level.


I agree with Ed and he is right 100%. However, microwave energy can be dangerous and nothing to take chances with. If you have any real concerns, please either have it tested by a professional or replace it. On the side of replacing it, understand that the magneutron tube, over time, looses efficiency and requires more electricity to produce the same amount of heating energy. P.

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