The door latch on my small, inexpensive (inexpensive is really no excuse) GE model JES738WJ 01 microwave oven sticks when it gets hot from long usage or when the temperature in the kitchen reaches the high 80s. This is the common pushbutton door release mechanism. When it sticks, you have to pull on the door while pushing the release button in to get the door open.
A little eyeball investigation revealed that the door latch consists of a couple of spring-loaded hooks on the door which engage a couple of latch pawls on/in the body of the oven. The latch pawls are fixed. The release button opens the door by lifting the hooks so they clear the latch pawls. The problem is, it only lifts the bottom hook. The top hook is supposed to follow the bottom hook and allow the door to open.
Apparently, (I haven't yet bothered to tear the door apart) the two hooks are molded in one piece out of plastic. The hooks and their connecting part are relatively thin. When the bottom hook is lifted by the button mechanism, the entire hook assembly flexes slightly. The spring is apparently at the top of the upper hook.
At normal room temperature, the plastic is rigid enough so that the upper hook follows the lower and the door is unlatched. But when the temperature rises -- due to room ambient temperature above 80F or heavy oven usage -- the hook assembly loses its rigidity and bends. The lower hook is released by the positive lifting action of the release button, but the upper hook, due to the flexing of the now-warm plastic, does not follow sufficiently to allow the door to open.
The simple fix (for the user) would be to file 30 thou to 50 thou off the top hook, which will probably work. But that shouldn't be necessary. Maybe monkeys didn't make my microwave oven, but they sure did design it!
This entry was submitted by Brooks Lyman and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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