The Microwave Glass is Broken, Can I Still Use It?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

Not Me and I Didn’t Do It struck again. Do they ever visit your house? This time Not Me threw a ball in the kitchen and I Didn’t Do It Either batted it with the broom handle into the microwave or the broom handle itself hit the microwave. I didn’t get the full story, I couldn’t hear over the blood rushing in my ears.

You’ll be proud, I didn’t scream at them. I DID tell them I was disappointed…a few times.

I got all the glass cleaned up. It’s one of those over the stove mounts and I can’t get a new one installed until next week. Are Not Me and I Didn’t Do It relegated to PB&J until the new one is installed or can they continue to heat up their after-school snacks?

Signed,
Shattered in Shelby

Heather says:

Not Me and I Didn’t Do It are frequent guests here at the Solos-Bergman home, we know them quite well. I have heard that they get around, the little freeloaders.

As far as your microwave there’s a chance it’s safe, but would I use it? Nah.

If you look at the door of your microwave, you’ll notice that there is a metal mesh between the panes of glass. It’s actually that mesh that keeps the waves inside the appliance.

But Heather, there are holes in the mesh. How does that actually keep invisible rays inside the microwave? Aren’t they tiny? Yes, they are tiny, but the holes are sized so that the wavelength doesn’t escape. They continue to bounce around inside.

The glass keeps the mesh clean. Please think of how your kids don’t cover their food. If that schmutz got all over the mesh, you wouldn’t be able to see your food. Also, the drips would dribble down into the seal of the door, and eventually, it wouldn’t close all the way, and THEREIN lies part of the problem.

The other part of the problem is if that mesh was damaged. If the mesh shifted, was torn, or now has a gap or gaps, you now have a place where the microwaves can leak. These waves aren’t going to sneak out of the appliance and hunt you and your family down, but they could cause burns if you were close enough to where they were leaking and if a part of your body wasn’t good at dispersing heat were in their path.

Notice I am talking about heat, the microwaves we talk about are non-ionizing radiation, they are not ionizing radiation. To be clear, ionizing radiation is the scarier stuff that you need to be much more cautious around. What you need to be most cautious around with your microwave is the heat it produces that can lead to burns (usually scalds) and fires (has Not Me ever way overcooked a potato yet?). A lot of people think that the two kinds of radiation are the same and that microwaves destroy all the nutrition in your food. That’s not how it works. You can certainly overcook your food, which doesn’t help its nutritional profile, but that’s not the same as irradiating it, but I digress.

Let Not Me and I Didn’t Do It enjoy their PB&Js as part of the consequences of roughhousing in the house. You play, you pay. That’s how the world works.

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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