How to Change a Microwave Light Bulb

Microwave light bulbs burn out. It happens! And while most microwaves will still run without a working interior light, it’s going to be hard to tell whether your midnight snack is just about done or ready to burst if you can’t see it while it’s cooking. Sure, the idea of messing with any repairs on your microwave can be intimidating, but you don’t have to resign yourself to reheating in the dark. Changing a microwave’s light bulb is actually a fairly quick and easy process. There are only a few places in the appliance that the light bulb can be housed, and most of them aren’t anywhere near the microwave’s more dangerous parts. Doing small, simple repairs like this by yourself can save you money in the long run, so give it a try! Follow this easy step-by-step guide to learn how to replace your microwave light bulb.

What Kind of Bulb Does My Microwave Use?

When it comes to microwaves, you can’t replace a burnt out bulb with any old CFL. Your microwave needs an appliance light bulb⁠—one with a base and wattage that match what’s already inside the appliance. Appliance bulbs typically have a different base and overall shape than the sort of light bulbs you put into your home’s other standard light fixtures. They’re also usually rated for high heat. Head to AppliancePartsPros.com and search by model number to identify and purchase the correct replacement microwave light bulb.

Safety Precautions to Take Before You Change a Microwave Light Bulb

It is vitally important that you take proper safety precautions before doing any repair work on a microwave. You should never take the cover off of the microwave and work on the inside. There are a number of components inside that could be dangerous even if the microwave has been unplugged for hours, or even days. Wear work gloves (preferably rubberized!) to protect against both the microwave’s sharp edges and potential shocks, and be sure to unplug the microwave and let it sit for at least sixty seconds before beginning any repairs.. Luckily, replacing a microwave light bulb is a quick and easy process that shouldn’t put you at risk of exposure to the capacitor.

For this job, you shouldn’t be accessing any of the compartments where more dangerous parts like the capacitor are held, but if at any point you feel that you cannot safely work on your microwave, stop what you are doing and call an appliance repair technician.

The Tools You’ll Need to Replace a Microwave Light Bulb

Replacing a microwave light bulb doesn’t require many tools, but there are a few things you’ll need. Be sure to have these items ready before you begin:

  • A compatible light bulb: After referring to your manual, purchase a replacement microwave light bulb by searching on AppliancePartsPros.com by model number. We make it easy to always find the part you need for the right price.
  • Rubberized work gloves
  • A screwdriver: You will most likely need a Phillips head, but you can check the screws on the light cover to be sure.

Find and Replace Your Microwave’s Light Bulb

Access to the microwave’s light bulb will most likely be in one of two places: either right within the central compartment or underneath the cabinet, reached from the rear of the appliance. The necessary steps to removing the old bulb and installing a new one will vary depending on where that light is, but we’ll walk you through how to do both! It’s easy.

If the Light Bulb is Accessed from the Central Compartment

A quick look inside your microwave should tell you whether or not the light bulb is inside the microwave’s central compartment. There should be a clear, tinted, or frosted plastic cover enclosing the bulb. Check for screws, too, to be sure, as there may be some holding the cover in place. If this is the case, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the microwave before beginning. Don’t do any work on an appliance that is still receiving power. If it’s easier to flip the circuit breaker to cut power to the appliance, you can do that, instead.
  2. Pop the microwave’s door open and take a look inside. You’re looking for a plastic cover where the light bulb is housed. It will be at least slightly translucent, if not completely clear, though it may also be frosted or tinted yellow. Depending on the size of your microwave, you may not have much space to work with inside, and getting a screwdriver into the right position might be a challenge. It’s completely okay to move your microwave to a workspace where you’ll have more room to maneuver and reposition it so that you can more easily get to the screws.
  3. Remove the light cover. There will probably be mounting screws holding it in place, but it may also be secured by tabs that will need to be pressed in. If you’ve unscrewed everything and the cover is still holding in place, check for tabs or switches that can be depressed to slide the cover out. Set the cover aside, keeping track of the screws. You can double check your microwave’s manual for reference. It will most likely contain diagrams for removing this part.
  4. Change the bulb! You should now have access to the old light bulb. Remove it, and compare the old bulb against the new one more time to ensure you’ve got the right one before installing the new bulb.
  5. Reassemble everything and then test it. With the new bulb installed, you can snap the cover back into place. Make sure all the tabs are secure before putting the mounting screws back in. That done, plug the microwave back in to test that the bulb is working properly.

If the Light Bulb is Accessed from the Back of the Microwave

If you’ve checked inside the microwave’s main compartment and can’t find a way to get to the light bulb from there, it’s most likely accessed from a panel on the back of the appliance.

  1. Ensure that the microwave is unplugged, and then turn it around to get at the back. The panel or grille you are looking for is typically vented or covered in holes. It will be screwed into place in the back, separate from the rest of the microwave’s cabinet shell.
  2. Remove the back panel. This piece should be separate from the rest of the cabinet and can be detached by removing a few mounting screws and/or depressing any tabs that hold it in place. There may even be a button or single tab you can press to pop it off. Make sure you keep track of any screws once they’re removed. Set everything aside in a safe place.
  3. Change the bulb. Once you’ve removed the back panel, you should be able to access the light bulb. Simply unscrew it, double checking it against the new light bulb to ensure that you have the right base type and wattage, and then install the new bulb.
  4. Reassemble everything and then test it out. Replace the back panel, ensuring all screws have been resecured. When that’s done, you can plug the microwave back in and test to ensure the new bulb is working.

If You’re Replacing the Cooktop Light in an Overhead Microwave

If you’re looking to replace the cooking light on the bottom of an over-the-range model of microwave, we’ve got the steps to take for that, too.

  1. Ensure that the microwave is unplugged and the stovetop is totally off. For overhead microwave models, the power cord can usually be found in a nearby wall cabinet. If anything was recently running, give it a few minutes to cool off.
  2. Lay a towel across the top of your stove. This will catch any screws or debris that might fall, ensuring you don’t lose the cover’s hardware or otherwise damage your stovetop.
  3. Remove the screws holding the light cover. Then pull the cover away and set it aside. Be careful, as this cover is most likely made of glass and could break.
  4. Turn the bulb counterclockwise to remove it, and then screw the new bulb into place. Once it’s installed, you can check the light to make sure it’s working ⁠— it’ll be brighter than usual without the cover!
  5. Put the cover back in place. Once everything checks out, you can carefully reattach the glass cover by screwing it back into place. It’ll be easier to do this with the light off.

By now you should have a working light in your microwave! If you find that you’re still nuking your leftovers in the dark, it may not be the bulb that’s the issue, but a greater electrical problem with the appliance which will require further research to diagnose. If you need additional help after attempting to replace on your own, please reach out to us at AppliancePartsPros.com, through LiveChat, a call or on our Appliance Repair Advice Facebook group.

Wrapping Up

With this guide you should be back to watching your oatmeal turn once again! We hope we’ve saved you a little bit of money, time, and stress with our walkthrough. Now that your microwave is back in tip top shape, consider coming back our way for all of your other appliance repair needs. Whether you’re just looking for parts or seeking a specialized do-it-yourself guide, check out AppliancePartsPros.com. We’re always here to help!