Avoid common over-the-range microwave installation fails with these handy DIY tips
Installing a microwave over your oven range has the potential to either be a DIY win or a home improvement headache. Some common mistakes can lead to microwaves falling and taking out not just your newly installed appliance, but the expensive oven range below it. These tips will help minimize any potential problems and save you from making some costly mistakes.
If the idea of installing a new microwave leaves you colder than last night’s leftovers, you can always hire a local handyperson to do the job for you. The cost of an average microwave installation begins at $135, not including the cost of the appliance.
If You’re Replacing a Microwave
The good news is that if you’re replacing an existing microwave a lot of the work—like the wiring, cut outs, and cabinetry placement—is already done for you. The most common DIY fail that can happen when using an existing over-the-range microwave’s footprint is getting the measurement wrong, which is why you should always double check your measurements.
1. Measure Accurately
When measuring for your replacement microwave, you’ll want to measure more than just the area where the unit will sit. Measure from the top of your oven range to the bottom of the cabinet. If your microwave hangs out further than your cabinet, make note of your cabinet’s height and how far the existing model hangs out (this will give you an idea of how a larger or smaller unit will look in your space). While microwaves are typically around the same length—30-inches tends to be the norm—they can vary widely in depth and height.
2. Get Help Removing Old Appliances
Microwaves can be a lot heavier than they look. Plus, when you take into account their sometimes awkward size and weight distribution, it’s best to make sure you have an extra set of hands around to help you get it down. If you’re short on helpers, you can hire a local handyperson to get the job done. Handypeople typically charge around $60 an hour for their services.
3. Hold Onto Old Hardware
While you’ll likely have to remove all of the hardware to get your old microwave out of the unit, you should hold onto it in case you need it for your new and improved microwave. This goes for cabinet screws and the mounting bracket behind the old unit.
Adding a New Microwave
If you’re adding a new microwave to a freshly designed space, there are a few different things you’ll want to take into consideration. For example, an existing microwave would’ve already been mounted using studs or toggle bolts, giving you a pretty good idea of where the best place to drill will be. If you’re installing your new microwave into a fresh cavity, you’ll need to figure this out from scratch. But don’t worry—we’ve got your back.
1. Find the Studs or Supports
Microwaves are deceptively heavy (they average around 50 pounds) and should be hung using studs. Use a stud finder to locate your studs and mark them before you start drilling. This will tell you exactly where you should put the screws for your mounting brackets.
2. Use Wood Filler Blocks
Some microwave manufacturers recommend using wooden blocks in the empty cavity between the cabinet and the microwave. These blocks remain in place after installation and will prevent you from doing any damage to the cabinetry woodwork as you tighten the screws.
3. Pull Your Power Cord Through
The microwave's power cord needs access to an electrical outlet, so be sure that your cabinet has a hole for your unit's cord. Be sure to feed the power cord through the hole before you fully mount the unit to the wall.