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  1. #1
    Lee Warren's Avatar
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    Default Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Hello everyone. I am new to this site, so I wanted to wish all my colleagues a hello first. I am an inspector in the DFW area, and i have a question that I wanted to pose. i sit on the Inspector Committee for my local Realtor association. One of the other committee members mentioned that he found on the net a way to test microwaves. According to him, you can put a cell phone in the microwave, close the door, and try to call it. If the call goes through, then the unit is not sealing properly and there is a possible radiation leak. Keep in mind this is without turning on the unit. I know that should go without saying, but still.

    Anyway, I just wanted to toss this out to you all to see if there is any accuracy in this method. If not, does anyone have an efficient way to test if the unit seals up properly? I just don't want to try this method, possibly run the risk of scaring the hell out of a client, if the method is bogus.

    Your input would be appreciated...

    Lee Warren
    Prospect Inspectors, Inc.
    Professional Inspector License #8411
    469-682-0341

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  3. #3
    Lee Warren's Avatar
    Lee Warren Guest

    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Good deal. Thank you for the link. I had actually searched the archives for this question, but for some reason I didn't get anything. Thank you again.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Leak protection is based on the length of the wave. The screen on the glass and any non metal gaps is made to some sub-multiple of the quarter wave length. Cell phones use 380 Mhz to 1.9 Ghz, microwave ovens use 2.45 Ghz. The lengths may end up being some sub-multiple but I would not bet on it.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Warren View Post
    Hello everyone. I am new to this site, so I wanted to wish all my colleagues a hello first. I am an inspector in the DFW area, and i have a question that I wanted to pose. i sit on the Inspector Committee for my local Realtor association. One of the other committee members mentioned that he found on the net a way to test microwaves. According to him, you can put a cell phone in the microwave, close the door, and try to call it. If the call goes through, then the unit is not sealing properly and there is a possible radiation leak. Keep in mind this is without turning on the unit. I know that should go without saying, but still.

    Anyway, I just wanted to toss this out to you all to see if there is any accuracy in this method. If not, does anyone have an efficient way to test if the unit seals up properly? I just don't want to try this method, possibly run the risk of scaring the hell out of a client, if the method is bogus.

    Your input would be appreciated...

    Lee Warren
    Prospect Inspectors, Inc.
    Professional Inspector License #8411
    469-682-0341
    If I were to test MWs for leakage (which I do not) I would test with a MW leakage tester. Not something someone saw on youtube.

    Something like this
    Amazon.com: Digital Microwave Oven Leakage Meter: Kitchen & Dining

    Sears: Online department store featuring appliances, tools, fitness equipment and more

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Leak protection is based on the length of the wave. The screen on the glass and any non metal gaps is made to some sub-multiple of the quarter wave length. Cell phones use 380 Mhz to 1.9 Ghz, microwave ovens use 2.45 Ghz. The lengths may end up being some sub-multiple but I would not bet on it.
    Correct.

    A lot of people think it is the glass which blocks the microwaves, it is not, it is the screen which is precisely made for the frequency.

    The reason the glass is there is because the first microwave ovens were the Radar Ranges and those had no glass. Consumers were VERY afraid of the microwaves leaking through the screen which was in the door, to the point that sales were poor. Some genius thought to put glass in front of the screen and then people started buying the Radar Ranges because people considered the microwave ovens safe with the glass. It is not what "is" that is important, it is what "is perceived" that is important.

    People "perceived" the glass blocked the microwaves and were then comfortable with it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    John's link is excellant. That info. aside, I think reporting beyond the SOPs is rife with liability. It would be awkward explaining in court the basis of a leaky microwave report was how you tested it w/ your cell phone.


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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    I use these and they work great.
    Just don't leave in more than several seconds or you blow a bulb.

    InterNACHI LED microwave oven testers/leak detectors. - InterNACHI


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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Correct.

    A lot of people think it is the glass which blocks the microwaves, it is not, it is the screen which is precisely made for the frequency.


    People "perceived" the glass blocked the microwaves and were then comfortable with it.
    Jerry, the glass performs a useful purpose. It stops food from spraying out into the room, as my glass door did the other night with my breaded oyster.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  10. #10

    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Just FYI I purchased in the past a tester for micro waves, When inspecting I found everone I tested was bad and leaked???? when service people came to check them the said they were safe?? Needless to say all the people involved were up set with me!!! I threw the tester AWAY I do not recommende testing these, not part of SOP anyway.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    The ones I posted work great.
    Before that I used what was like a bean bag and heated it up for 5-10 secs which I would toss to my client.

    As a past head appliance installer for Sears I check all appliances and my clients appreciate it.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    I carry one of these (got it for $6) to test if the MW is heating:

    Sea to Summit X Mug

    Also, handy when you want a drink of water.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  13. #13
    cuba_pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    I use these and they work great.
    Just don't leave in more than several seconds or you blow a bulb.

    InterNACHI LED microwave oven testers/leak detectors. - InterNACHI
    Microwave leak detectors don't go on the inside. They are used on the outside to test for leaks...to the outside.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    The mouse or hamster pop test works the best! A little messy but it works...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by cuba_pete View Post
    Microwave leak detectors don't go on the inside. They are used on the outside to test for leaks...to the outside.
    Wrong...see my link.
    I think with years hands on experience I know a little bit about it ...don't you.

    Works great for outside as you mentioned as well which a cup of water will not do however so you make a great point.

    Only burned out one led in all this time because I was busy talking to the Agent.

    Once it starts glowing be sure to pull it out right away as anything over 5 seconds burns it out however they last for a very long time and if you had gone to the Vegas convention Nick was passing them out for free.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Wrong...see my link.
    I think with years hands on experience I know a little bit about it ...don't you.

    Works great for outside as you mentioned as well which a cup of water will not do however so you make a great point. Only burned out one led in all this time because I was busy talking to the Agent.
    Okay, I'll bite...how exactly does a leak detector detect leaks when it is inside of the microwave?

    Why would a home inspector place a metal object inside of a microwave oven to determine if microwaves are leaking past the door gasket or the cabinet seals of the microwave?

    And I do know the answer to these questions...I just want to hear your opinion.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by cuba_pete View Post
    Okay, I'll bite...how exactly does a leak detector detect leaks when it is inside of the microwave?

    Why would a home inspector place a metal object inside of a microwave oven to determine if microwaves are leaking past the door gasket or the cabinet seals of the microwave?

    And I do know the answer to these questions...I just want to hear your opinion.
    Hey Cuba sorry I did not analyse it but I simply confirm it is working inside...duh.

    Never caught a leak outside one yet but often wonder what would happen to my hand if I did.......lighten up.LOL


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Jerry, the glass performs a useful purpose. It stops food from spraying out into the room, as my glass door did the other night with my breaded oyster.
    Or - reheating a cold boiled egg. From first hand experience, DO NOT DO IT!

    Jeesh - the thing exploded just as I opened the door. .It apparently wasn't super heated because I didn't get burned. Egg went all over the kitchen. My wife thought it was funny. Of course, I had to clean it up and off everything.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  19. #19
    cuba_pete's Avatar
    cuba_pete Guest

    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Hey Cuba sorry I did not analyse it but I simply confirm it is working inside...duh.

    Never caught a leak outside one yet but often wonder what would happen to my hand if I did.......lighten up.LOL
    I'm light...my text just "sounds" rude...


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Or - reheating a cold boiled egg. From first hand experience, DO NOT DO IT!

    Jeesh - the thing exploded just as I opened the door. .It apparently wasn't super heated because I didn't get burned. Egg went all over the kitchen. My wife thought it was funny. Of course, I had to clean it up and off everything.
    It probably was super heated and the jar from opening the door set it off.

    You heated the cold boiled egg in water in a glass or other similarly smooth surfaced container. The glass or ceramic surface did not allow the bubbles to start showing that it was boiling, any movement (such as the jerk from opening the door) can set it off.

    I've heard and read where you should put something in the water to break loose the surface tension of the water from the glass surface, even something like a wood chop stick, wood coffee stirrer, etc., as the surface of the wood is not smooth like glass or ceramic (there are other things too, such as using a scratched up glass, that solves the problem too).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  21. #21

    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    How do microwave ovens work?
    Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like light waves or radio waves, and occupy a part of the electromagnetic spectrum of power, or energy. Microwaves are very short waves of electromagnetic energy that travel at the speed of light (186,282 miles per second). In our modern technological age, microwaves are used to relay long distance telephone signals, television programs, and computer information across the earth or to a satellite in space. But the microwave is most familiar to us as an energy source for cooking food.
    Every microwave oven contains a magnetron, a tube in which electrons are affected by magnetic and electric fields in such a way as to produce micro wavelength radiation at about 2450 Mega Hertz (MHz) or 2.45 Giga Hertz (GHz). This microwave radiation interacts with the molecules in food. All wave energy changes polarity from positive to negative with each cycle of the wave. In microwaves, these polarity changes happen millions of times every second. Food molecules - especially the molecules of water - have a positive and negative end in the same way a magnet has a north and a south polarity


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom harding jr View Post
    But the microwave is most familiar to us as an energy source for cooking food.
    Maybe to most people, but to others, such as myself, microwaves are familiar in other ways - I spent 5 years testing microwave tubes and devices, configuring waveguide test setups for use in testing them, working with microwave tubes which put out power levels from a few milliwatts to 10 megawatts (with the larger microwave tubes operating in an oil bath for cooling and insulation of the primary power electrodes operating at 150 kv, all while being cooled by circulating water at a specified temperature and gpm flow.

    Occasionally ... assembly would forget to put the protective lead covering in before they installed the outer covering ... of course, though, the only way to find this out was when the tube was warmed up, cranked and putting out megawatts of power ... and x-rays ... which fired the Geiger Counter off such that the alarm was screaming and the needle pegged the highest scale. That's why I will sometimes joke that I "glow-in-the-dark". Not to worry, I had two daughters ... er ... ... my wife had two daughters ... ummmmm ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Lost in the previous definition was a easy explanation that the polarity shift basically is creating a type of heat through friction due to the rapid vibration if I am not mistaken.

    Simply Observing that there is a shift did not explain that far.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Maybe to most people, but to others, such as myself, microwaves are familiar in other ways - I spent 5 years testing microwave tubes and devices, configuring waveguide test setups for use in testing them, working with microwave tubes which put out power levels from a few milliwatts to 10 megawatts (with the larger microwave tubes operating in an oil bath for cooling and insulation of the primary power electrodes operating at 150 kv, all while being cooled by circulating water at a specified temperature and gpm flow.

    Occasionally ... assembly would forget to put the protective lead covering in before they installed the outer covering ... of course, though, the only way to find this out was when the tube was warmed up, cranked and putting out megawatts of power ... and x-rays ... which fired the Geiger Counter off such that the alarm was screaming and the needle pegged the highest scale. That's why I will sometimes joke that I "glow-in-the-dark". Not to worry, I had two daughters ... er ... ... my wife had two daughters ... ummmmm ...
    Hmmm.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Hmmm.
    It sounds more like "Huuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm".


  26. #26
    Ronald Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Hi, this is my first post. But besides my military background of VLF to Micro-waves, and some radar. I finished out with 26 yrs in food machines. Yes, microwaves were included. Any test with the unit on and something inside can test power only. Leakage is done with an expensive leakage tester on the outside and checks for door leakage. Per gov. std's so much at a certain distance so the tester looks like a pencil microphone inside a foam cone. ( That's the distance, drag pointed end around the door while heating a beaker of water. )
    But first we were taught an EZ trick. Take a dollar bill, new is better. Shut the door with the bill in the left/center/right on all four sides. So this is 12 test points. You should be to feel good resistance to pull it out, and on a new unit, you might not be able to pull it out. In 26 yrs I only had 1 fail the leakage test and that was because the hinge was worn out on a angle and took a slightly differant position each closure and caused an intermittant leakage. Because the dollar test is unpowered, you don't have to worry about glowing in the dark. Even the failed unit wouldn't cause a burn unless you stuck your your tongue there for a full minute( NOT Recommended anytime.). That light bulb tester may work if run around the outside of the door, but no way can you guide waves to all positions around a door to use a cell phone for the test and it won't be to gov. std's. Good luck. Remember the dollar bill is a pretest, and the easiest for DYI
    Here's a professional tester, not cheap, but it's what you need with a certificate of compliance to show when it was last calibrated to use in court. Microwave Leakage Detector - Magnetic Field Measuring - Nonelectrical Properties Testing - 4LFY1 : Grainger Industrial Supply

    Wow, didn't know it would be this long. Good luck all , Ron Martin


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Testing the microwave with a cell phone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Martin View Post
    Hi, this is my first post. But besides my military background of VLF to Micro-waves, and some radar. I finished out with 26 yrs in food machines. Yes, microwaves were included. Any test with the unit on and something inside can test power only. Leakage is done with an expensive leakage tester on the outside and checks for door leakage. Per gov. std's so much at a certain distance so the tester looks like a pencil microphone inside a foam cone. ( That's the distance, drag pointed end around the door while heating a beaker of water. )
    But first we were taught an EZ trick. Take a dollar bill, new is better. Shut the door with the bill in the left/center/right on all four sides. So this is 12 test points. You should be to feel good resistance to pull it out, and on a new unit, you might not be able to pull it out. In 26 yrs I only had 1 fail the leakage test and that was because the hinge was worn out on a angle and took a slightly differant position each closure and caused an intermittant leakage. Because the dollar test is unpowered, you don't have to worry about glowing in the dark. Even the failed unit wouldn't cause a burn unless you stuck your your tongue there for a full minute( NOT Recommended anytime.). That light bulb tester may work if run around the outside of the door, but no way can you guide waves to all positions around a door to use a cell phone for the test and it won't be to gov. std's. Good luck. Remember the dollar bill is a pretest, and the easiest for DYI
    Here's a professional tester, not cheap, but it's what you need with a certificate of compliance to show when it was last calibrated to use in court. Microwave Leakage Detector - Magnetic Field Measuring - Nonelectrical Properties Testing - 4LFY1 : Grainger Industrial Supply

    Wow, didn't know it would be this long. Good luck all , Ron Martin
    Most inspectors I know just check to see if the units turn on. Testing for leakage is way outside the scope of a normal inspection.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  28. #28
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    Talking practical microwave test kit

    This would be my preferred microwave test kit

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