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GE Microwave Fan/Vent Won’t Work/Turn Off/On

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Won’t Work/Turn Off/On

The microwave oven – along with the refrigerator, TV, and air conditioner – is one of the most heavily used appliances in most modern homes. Thanks to continual usage, most microwaves are also quick to encounter glitches. Though General Electric (GE) microwaves are known for their reliability, they are not immune to various “microwave oven” issues.

A GE microwave fan/vent could have issues turning on/off and other problems if the oven’s filters are unclean or clogged. A defective thermostat or the fan motor not doing its job could also be the reason. Though rare, the control board of the oven may have gone bad and could need replacement.

Though compact, a microwave oven is a complicated machine and can encounter a host of issues. In this article, the three major concerns relating to GE microwave exhaust fans have been looked at in detail. Read on if you have a GE microwave and have or currently facing issues with the machine’s fans, or you simply want to be prepared for future hiccups.

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Not Working: Causes/How To Fix

The exhaust fan of an above-the-range microwave helps clear the air above the stove.

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Not Working: Causes/How To Fix

What Causes Microwave Fan/Vent to Not Work

If your GE microwave oven’s fan is not working, a host of things could have turned problematic. In other words, the filters, exhaust fan motor, thermostat, control board, etc., could be at fault. Unlike the fan motor and thermostat, however, the main control board is less likely to fail. That said, you still cannot rule out the possibilities.

How to Fix Microwave Fan/Vent That Does Not Work


Air Filter

Check the air filters for clogging. An air filter in microwave ovens, particularly the over-the-range types, helps absorb pollutants and smells from the food being heated. The contaminants can build up or accumulate over a period and cause blockages. A metal or charcoal mesh filter can be washed/cleaned with soap and water. If it’s too dirty, replace it. 

Grease Filter

Like the air filter, the grease filter of your microwave could clog too. The grease filter helps trap fats and oils from the food being heated so that the exhaust system could remain clean and clear. 

The filter is typically located at the oven’s bottom. To inspect and clean the filter, take it out. Use water and some soap to clean the filter. When cleaning the grease filter, look for signs of debris or damage. If the dust and dirt accumulation is exceptionally stubborn, you may have to buy a new filter altogether. 

At times, inspecting the filters and making it right again is all that’s required to set the fan rolling again. To prevent filter clogging, clean the oven routinely. 

Damper Assembly

The damper in your over-the-range GE microwave prevents air from outside to enter the oven via the exhaust system. The component is typically a flap made of plastic or metal that opens the exhaust conduit when the fan is running and shuts it when it turns off. The flap could be spring-loaded or could be purpose-designed to open and close using gravity. 

If you suspect foul play by the damper assembly, inspect for items that may be preventing the component from properly opening and closing. Also, examine the damper visually for signs of cracking, wear, or damage. If there are issues found, look for a replacement damper. 

If none of the aforementioned cleaning methods work, dismantle the oven and clean the various components individually. If there is a broken part, it will come to light during this stage.  

Fan Motor 

To ascertain the exhaust fan motor has issues, take it out and manually turn the blades. If the blades don’t freely move, replace the motor.

In case the blades do turn, test the fan motor for power and continuity using a multimeter. If the fan motor has power and it still doesn’t work, replace it. A replacement is also in tow if the motor doesn’t have continuity.

Here is a video that demonstrates effective and safe GE microwave fan motor replacement:

The exhaust fan motor not doing its job could also be because of a faulty main control board. (More on the board and its vulnerabilities later.)


The thermostat of your microwave helps monitor air temperature and turns the fan on when needed. In case the thermostat has issues, the exhaust fan won’t function properly. 

If you suspect a faulty thermostat, check if it has continuity. If not, look for another thermostat as repairing the thermostat won’t be practical or worth your while.

Main Control Board 

As mentioned above, main control boards going bad is a rare occurrence. Control boards are misdiagnosed often. Therefore, the board must be looked into only after you’ve checked the fan motor, wires, and various other components. If all the parts are fine, and it’s still not clear why the exhaust fan doesn’t work, you may call out the board.

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Won’t Turn Off/Stop: Causes/How To Fix

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Won’t Turn Off/Stop: Causes/How To Fix

What Causes Microwave Fan/Vent To Not Turn Off

The exhaust fan of your GE microwave not turning off could be the fallout of a defective thermostat. As mentioned above, the thermostat turns the exhaust fan on upon sensing heat. When the ability of the thermostat to sense heat fails, the fan is no longer under control.

If the thermostat is fine, the main control board could be turning on the fan with zero user input. This may be due to a loose user interface connection or perhaps a cold solder joint.

What to Fix Microwave Fan/Vent That Does Not Turn Off

To turn off an out-of-control or unresponsive-to-commands exhaust fan, follow these steps:

  • Press your GE microwave oven’s “Options” or “Control Setup” button to enter “setup” mode.
  • Navigate to the sub-menu “Vent Fan” on the oven’s display and hit “Enter/Start.”
  • Choose “Off,” and press “Enter/Start” again to turn off the vent fan.

Another way to turn the fan off is to unplug the appliance or cycle the breaker. 

If the control panel is the issue, remove the panel and check the status of all connections. If the connections are good, remove the ribbon-like cable from the mainboard and subject the board’s various contacts to some general cleaning. 

After the cleaning, put everything back together and check for the issue again. If the board is fine, the problem should no longer be there. If the problem continues, look for a replacement board.

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Won’t Turn On: Causes/How To Fix

GE Microwave Fan/Vent Won’t Turn On: Causes/How To Fix

What Causes Microwave Fan/Vent To Not Turn On

As mentioned above, if the thermostat of your microwave has problems, the integrated exhaust fan won’t turn on. The fan motor could also be the cause.

How to Fix Microwave Fan/Vent That Does Not Turn On

A microwave thermostat is bound to fail if it doesn’t conduct continuity. Replace the thermostat if there’s no continuity. There’s no standard thermostat for all GE microwave ovens. Check your microwave model and look for a compatible thermostat.

If the fan motor is bad, follow the instructions mentioned above.

A Word of Precaution When Repairing Your Microwave

A microwave oven could be storing several thousand volts of electricity within its high-voltage capacitor, even when it’s unplugged. In other words, your oven could “shock” you even if it’s not connected to power. Due to this electric shock possibility, it’s recommended you do not handle the equipment yourself or treat the repair as a DIY project.

Work on the appliance only if you possess the necessary tools and have professional experience handling and repairing microwave ovens. If not, do not even try to repair or replace the board or its components. Hire a licensed technician instead.

A licensed technician must be brought into the picture for pretty much all types of microwave repair work.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned above, the main control board of your microwave seldom goes bad. The thermostat, on the other hand, is more prone to failure. In specific microwave oven models, the thermostat can be super-sensitive, causing the exhaust fan to run longer and harder than usual.

Fortunately, the thermostat is relatively inexpensive, and replacing it is, therefore, not a hassle. The negative part is that getting to the thermostat can be a problem. Invariably, the oven must be completely uninstalled to access the component. If you don’t know much about microwave ovens, it’s advised you contact an experienced technician.

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