Question about GE Spacemaker JVM1640SJ Microwave Oven

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Microwave smells of electrical fire

The microwave just started doing this yesterday. the problem starts after about a minute and a half. smells like there is a small electrical short, or like we had put something metal inside and it was causing an arc. the unit is a GE Spacemaker JVM1640WJ01. is this something that i can fix, or should the unit be replaced?

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  • justinkace5 Jan 23, 2009

    i replaced the magnetron last night, but still have the same issue. any place else to look?

  • Rick Covert Jan 24, 2009

    We have this same situation and now the microwave does not work. JVM164088 002

  • justinkace5 Jan 29, 2009

    sorry to delay in my follow-up post. turns out that it was the diode that goes from the high voltage capicitor to ground. it was throwin sparks real good. replaced it, now all seems ok. gotta see if the supplier will take the magnetron back

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The magnetron inside the microwave is starting to short out to ground. This happens after use there are small minute cracks on the body of the magnetron and those small cracks are big enough for 15,000 volts and up to 30,000 volts to leak through and arc to ground. It is not a small short but a big one. Replace the magnetron before it burns holes inside your microwave. Replacing the magnetron if you can find it locally or through the internet is pretty straightforward. Unplug the microwave and take the cover off about 6 screws. On the same side as the control panel and right behind it you will find the microwave on top. It is held in place with only three to four big screws. It will have about 4 wires with terminals on them that plug into a couple of places one being the large capacitor that stores all the voltage and discharges it through the magnetron. Take the terminals off and I always recommend with some needle nose pliers with insulated handles. There is nothing to unsolder and to solder. Its like replacing the battery in your car or the electronic module. Take care and good luck.

Posted on Jan 22, 2009

  • roberto serbin Jan 23, 2009

    If you are still getting electrical arcing then the problem still remains in the circuit that includes the magnetron, high voltage capacitor (it has a couple of the wires that connect to the magnetron), high voltage transformer, and high voltage diode. You can see what they look like by logging in www.mwoparts.com. To check take the cover off again. Then plug the microwave back in and try to heat something up. Just look, but don't put your fingers or hands on them at the three components I described see if you see anything obvious or can better tell where that smell comes from.To test the high voltage capacitor read the following carefully:The capacitor is discharged by creating a short circuit (direct connection) between the two capacitor terminals and from each terminal to chassis ground (bare metal surface).


    1. Do this by touching the blade of an insulated-handled screw driver to one terminal, then slide it toward the other terminal until it makes contact and hold it there for a few seconds. (This can result in a rather startling "pop!" Note:If there is a spark, the capacitor is evidently holding a charge, thus it is most likely not defective)
    2. Repeat the procedure to create a short between each capacitor terminal and chassis ground.
    3. If the capacitor has three terminals, use the same procedure to create a short circuit between each terminal and then from each terminal to ground.
    4. Older Amana-made models (generally those manufactured before 1977) have red, round filter capacitors mounted in the base of the magnetron tube which can also hold a charge. Ground each magnetron terminal by creating a short circuit to chassis ground using the blade of a screwdriver as explained above.

    Capacitor Test Procedure

    1. Unplug the oven.
    2. DISCHARGE ALL HIGH VOLTAGE CAPACITORS.
    3. Note the wiring and carefully remove all leads from the capacitor terminals. (If there is a bleeder resistor, it need not be removed. But, bear in mind that some measurements will reflect the meg-ohm resistance of the resistor)
    4. Set the ohmmeter to its highest resistance scale.
    5. Measure from one terminal to the other for a normal reading of infinity (or the value of the bleeder resistor).
    6. Now reverse the leads. The meter should momentarily deflect toward the zero mark, then slowly drift back to infinity.
    7. Reverse the leads once again. This should produce the same meter deflection.
    8. Next measure from each terminal to the capacitor's metal case for a normal reading of infinity. (If there is an internal diode, the meter readings will reflect the diode's forward bias resistance. (See HV diode test procedure)
    9. A visual inspection will also reveal certain defects, such as:

      • Evidence of arcing or burning at the insulators
      • The presence of an oily film or smell suggests a dielectric (non-conductive medium) leak
      • A bulging case indicates dielectric breakdown

    To test the hv diode the procedure is as follows:The high-voltage rectifier (diode) works along with the high-voltage capacitor to effectively double the already-high voltage that is provided by the power transformer. This powerful voltage, about 3000 - 5000 volts DC (depending on the model), is applied to the magnetron tube, causing it to produce the microwave energy that cooks the food.

    This test requires an ohm meter with at least a 6 volt battery in order to accurately measure the front to back resistance of the diode. Meters with insufficient battery power may read infinite resistance (open) in each direction, mistakenly showing a good diode as being open.
    However, the following resistance tests will conclusively reveal a diode that is shorted. In most cases, defective diodes, whether shorted or open, will show some physical signs of the defect, such as a burned crack, a blistered spot, or it may even be split in two. Also, a shorted diode will usually give off a pungent electrical burning odor.
    Before making this or any other test:

    ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE OVEN IS UNPLUGGED AND THE HIGH VOLTAGE CAPACITOR IS FULLY DISCHARGED

    Important Safety Information
    Microwave ovens are one of the most dangerous appliances to work on. Before attempting any troubleshooting, testing or repairs, for your personal safety we strongly urge you to carefully read the very important safety precautions found by clicking here .

    Please read our disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

    Test 1

    1. Unplug the oven.
    2. DISCHARGE ALL HIGH VOLTAGE CAPACITORS. (Procedure)
    3. Carefully remove the lead that goes to the capacitor (the ground connection may remain attached)
    4. Set the ohmmeter to read ohms at a scale of R X 10,000 or higher.
    5. Measure the resistance across the terminals of the diode by touching the positive meter probe to the anode and the negative probe to the cathode (the cathode is the side that goes to ground, usually marked by an arrow, dot or stripe).
    6. A normal diode, depending on make and model, should read about 50,000 to 200,000 ohms.
      (Note:The polarity of the meter probes, with regard to forward and reverse bias readings, may be relative to the type of meter being used.)
    7. Reversing the leads should produce a reading of infinity (open), unless there is a bleeder resistor across the diode, in which case the reading would show the [megohm] value of the resistor.
    8. If continuity is read in both directions, the diode is shorted. If infinity is read in both directions, the diode is open. In each case the diode must be replaced.


    In some models the diode is located inside of the high voltage capacitor. In this case, identify the diode terminal and perform the same test as above, measuring from the diode terminal to the capacitor's metal case.

    If you are not able to do these tests yourself just inspect the components visually as I suggested above. Let me know.

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