Microwave Leakage Testing

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Previously microwave leakage testing was part of the standard PAT test. This requirement was removed from the Code of Practice when it was updated from the 3rd to the 4thedition.

Although the leakage test requirement has been removed from the Code of Practice, it still often makes sense to carry out a microwave leakage test at the same time as the standard PAT.

For clarification, the microwave leakage test is the testing of microwave ovens for microwave radiation leakage. Not to be confused with the protective conductor current test, often referred to as an earth leakage test.

Food in a microwave oven is heated by absorbing microwave energy. The microwaves penetrate the food or liquid causing the molecules to vibrate against each other which produces heat. The microwave energy is safely contained within the oven by the metal cooking chamber which acts like a Faraday cage. The viewing window on the door has a conductive mesh with a hole size that is smaller than the microwaves wavelength, this prevents the microwaves from passing through the door. The seal around the door is also designed with a cavity to absorb any stray radiation.

The maximum permitted leakage level is 5 mW/cm2 at a distance of 50mm from the surface of the oven (mW/cm2 is the power present in one square centimetre). A microwave is also required to have two independent interlock systems that stop the cooking process as soon as the door is opened.

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