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Door Interlock Repair - Fixed It!
Model Number: RSW659P Brand: Amana Age: More than 10 years
For the past year, about once a month, my 20+ year-old Amana RSW659P microwave would trip the circuit breaker (the one in my breaker box, not anything inside the oven itself). This always happened at the very instant I pressed the start button.
Each time this happened, I went to the breaker box and reset the breaker. When I returned to the microwave oven, it would then work normally and usually continue to work for weeks or months until, out of the blue, it would happen again.
A quick Internet search turned up lots of information about this symptom, and every single post claimed that the problem was almost certainly the door interlock.
Since it was so infrequent, I lived with the problem for over a year, but two days ago, after resetting the house circuit breaker, when I returned to the microwave, when I pressed start, the timer started counting down, and I thought I could hear the sound of the "flyback" (the HV driving the magnetron), but the main relay didn't click, and I got no fan or heat.
Now it was dead.
I searched high and low for a place that carried a replacement interlock switch, but they appear to have all been sold. I even searched for the Cherry generic version (they manufactured the switch for Amana), and did find one part, but it was in Italy, and I didn't want to deal with an overseas purchase.
I was going to buy another oven, but this is built in, with a nifty trim kit that includes duct work to route air to the oven. I was having a tough time finding something that would fit, was designed for use as a built-in, and which did all the things this great appliance does.
So, in desperation, I decided to try to repair the interlock switch.
It turns out that this is really simple to do. The switch is manufactured with a cover on one side which has half a dozen posts which fit into holes and female posts on the other side. A few of these posts are held in place with a dollop of glue. The cover itself is NOT glued around the edges. This made disassembly quite simple.
I simply drilled out the glue on the four holes the on the back side of the switch and was then able to pry open the cover. Once opened, the problem was obvious: 100,000 cycles (my estimate of how many times we've used it since 1994) had left the almost one dozen contacts on the various switches (there are about six separate switches inside) pitted and blackened, and the contacts were no longer able to conduct electricity. There are no springs inside, so unlike repairing some switches, where the whole thing springs apart the moment you open it, this item is totally stable and completely simple to deal with. There are a few posts inside which hold the copper pieces in place, and you would be well advised to take a picture as soon as you open it up, so that you can get the pieces on the correct side of each support post. You'll figure it out eventually, even if you don't do this (which I forgot to do), but it will save time and also boost your confidence to have the picture.
I didn't bother to disconnect any of the spade lugs (which speeds things up) and was able to do all my work with the unit just sitting in midair, supported by the wires, after I had unscrewed the four mounting screws.
To refurbish it, I lifted out, one at a time, each of the seven contacts and then cleaned them with a Dremel wire brush. Following that I dressed them (flattened them out) with a standard ignition file (like we used to use on distributor contacts). I used compressed air to make sure all metal shavings were removed from the interior. I reassembled the switch and used some "extra-strength" hot glue to tack the cover in place, and to replace the glue that I had drilled out.
I then put it back in service, making sure to pay attention to the adjustment to get the door closed snugly.
Everything is working now, and I expect that I will no longer be blowing fuses.
So, it was a $0 fix. It took awhile because I was being slow and cautious, but if I had to do it again, I think I could do the whole thing in under fifteen minutes.
I thought others who might come up against this same problem (of no longer being able to purchase a replacement interlock switch) might find it useful to know that, at least with the one on my Amana, it can be repaired, and it isn't very difficult.
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