Author Topic: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave? (Read 18344 times)

Random Hangers

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How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« on: February 25, 2014, 07:43:21 AM »
Our Over The Range microwave broke last week. We're pretty sure it's the magnetron (which I have learned is a vital heating component, not the Transformer character it sounds like it should be, lol), and have been told it isn't worth fixing.

While researching new micros, we realized that the cost to install one is shockingly close to the purchase price (we're looking in the $150-$200 range, and the installation fee they're asking at the big box stores are $130-$150). We've never done DIY stuff of any kind; is this a good project for newbies to take on, or are we apt to electrocute ourselves?

We're pretty good at following directions, but would be totally at a loss if we needed to troubleshoot. I figure maybe we give it a shot, and if it doesn't work, find an electrician or handy friend to finish the job? Anyone care to share any thoughts? Concerns? Watch outs? Thanks!!

Spork

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 07:55:17 AM »
It isn't hard at all.

The considerations:
* you need a power outlet up there... and it sounds like you already have one
* if you are ducting to outside, you need ducting... and I suspect you either already have one or are ducting back indoors.
* if you are ducting to outside... the adapter from microwave to ducting is likely to vary by make/model
* make sure the microwave fits the hole... There are a number of standard sized openings. Often there are "kits" that adapt from smaller sizes to larger sizes. (They are color matched filler panels.) You may need a kit that is matched to your make/model.

Otherwise, it is just holding something heavy and bolting it in. It's easiest with a couple of people, but I've done similar things by propping things on something (2x4s, stack of cookbooks, etc.)
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EK

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 08:31:55 AM »
The microwave plugs in (since you have existing otr microwave I am going to assume the plug already is where you need it)- you're not going to get electrocuted. I handled the taking down of an old microwave and putting up of a new microwave on my own, using some improvised kitchen materials to hold the old one up while I unattached it, and to hold the new one up while I attached it. Taking down the old microwave was far harder than installing the new one!! This is def something you can diy.

Sweet Betsy

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 08:35:06 AM »
If you already have a microwave installed...it's super easy to install a new one. You can use mounting bracket that's already installed. I did most of it and just called my husband up to help me lift the microwave into place. I have no idea why they charge $150 to install.

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 09:23:30 AM »
It's easy enough, if it's your first time have a helper. They're heavy enough that it takes practice to install one by yourself. The installation manual that comes with it should be very good at explaining the process step-by-step. Follow the directions and you should be good.

Free tip: use foil tape not "duct tape" on the ductwork if you're venting to the outside. It's stickier and longer lasting, and required in many areas. Another good option is duct mastic but it's a PITA to work with.

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 10:25:45 AM »
It is quite easy. Like Evakatharina said, figuring out how to take out the old one is likely to be the hardest part. And that part isn't even very hard, you just have to figure out how it is secured in place to get it out.

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 10:35:30 AM »
Awesome. Thanks for all the tips/ideas/help!

Next question: what do we do with the old microwave when we're done? If we hired a big box person, they'd haul it away. Do they just throw it away? Seems wasteful to just leave it for the garbage men....

serhomeslice

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2014, 10:46:41 AM »
Doing the same thing right now. Easy to install. We found a scrap metal yard that will give us $20 for our old one. We just have to figure out how to get it by there during normal business hours.


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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2014, 11:27:06 AM »
Having just done this same installation this past weekend (and also being a DIY noob), here are my comments/suggestions:

- The absolute easiest installation will be if you bought a similar sized microwave from the same manufacturer as the old. This will increase the likelihood the bottom supporting bracket and the hole patterns of the bolts that come down from the top cabinet are the same. This would allow you to simply remove the old and insert the new with little effort since you wouldn't need to monkey with drilling new holes all over the place, worry about leveling, etc.

- Unfortunately my experience tells me that OTR microwaves come in all shapes and sizes and require their own "gear". At one point, I had 3 different makes/models sitting in my kitchen (GE, Kenmore, and LG) and all three had different patterns for the bottom supporting bracket and different overhead bolt patterns. This meant we had to remove the old bracket, mount a new one at the proper height, location, etc.

- Fortunately the new microwave we ended up installing came with paper templates that taped to the back wall and under the overhead cabinet that shows where the new holes need to be drilled. It probably goes without saying, but most OTR microwaves are pretty hefty (40-50 pounds) and at least one of the wood screws that mounts the bottom supporting bracket needs to hit a stud.

Good luck!

ritchie70

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2014, 01:03:24 PM »
I've done two, one of them at least twice. :)

It's easy. It is fairly heavy, but I did both of them solo. It is nice, but not essential, to have someone else who can hold it up while you start one of the bolts down from the cabinet (or who can start the bolt while you hold it up.)

Just my opinion, but it's a lot easier if you can move the stove out of the way.

Milspecstache

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2014, 07:14:00 PM »
My plan is to build a shelf about the size of a popular microwave and put a regular standalone microwave in the spot. That way when it fails I can toss it and buy a replacement without having to worry about custom fit/brackets/etc.

ritchie70

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2014, 08:12:53 PM »
My plan is to build a shelf about the size of a popular microwave and put a regular standalone microwave in the spot. That way when it fails I can toss it and buy a replacement without having to worry about custom fit/brackets/etc.

The second one I installed was replacing that sort of a thing - the prior owner had redone the kitchen with a cabinet company's "microwave cabinet" right over the stove. It stuck way far out, the entire thing was a greasy disgusting sticky mess, and there was no exhaust fan aside from a tiny one up in the ceiling.

I took the front off and cut it down so just the top part was left, built a replacement cabinet box (actually bought and cut down an Ikea cabinet box and didn't buy any doors) and put in a combo microwave/vent hood. So much better, and so much easier to be clean.

If you're going to put it over the stove, I'd look into food service stainless steel shelves instead of building something out of wood. You can at least clean that properly.

Spork

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2014, 07:15:44 AM »
Yeah. I'd think you'd want a fan and a light if it goes over the range. (And personally I am not a fan of the run-through-a-carbon-filter-and-blow-it-in-cook's-face type of venting. I prefer to vent outside.)
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Milspecstache

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2014, 11:02:14 AM »
Good advice! I already have a vent pre-piped to the outside. Will have to look more into this!

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2014, 11:13:36 AM »
If you already have a microwave installed...it's super easy to install a new one. You can use mounting bracket that's already installed. I did most of it and just called my husband up to help me lift the microwave into place. I have no idea why they charge $150 to install.

This. Word for word. Including that I did most of it myself except having my husband help me lift it into place.

Emg03063

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2014, 11:00:53 PM »
This is a very good DIY project. The "new" microwave may or may not fit the existing bracket; it will if you're lucky, otherwise, it's a couple of screws or lag bolts if the studs don't line up well. Once you have the bracket in, hanging the microwave is easy. No need to buy a new one-- someone on Craigslist will be selling one in your desired size and color for about $60. You can get rid of the old one on Freecycle.

TomTX

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2014, 08:43:58 AM »
We went to replace our OTR light/fan with an OTR microwave/light/fan - upon unpacking, I discovered that the incompetents had designed the microwave so that the power cord stuck up in the FRONT of the cabinet above, and not in the middle where it would be covered by the cabinet facing. Offset, so that it's directly in the way of using the right-hand cabinet. [email protected]$#% that, microwave goes back.
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Greg

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2014, 09:12:37 AM »
We went to replace our OTR light/fan with an OTR microwave/light/fan - upon unpacking, I discovered that the incompetents had designed the microwave so that the power cord stuck up in the FRONT of the cabinet above, and not in the middle where it would be covered by the cabinet facing.

That might be the design of the appliance or a flaw in the design of your cabinet. Older cabinets may not take appliances like this into consideration. I hope you can find one that will work!

Spork

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2014, 09:42:16 AM »
We went to replace our OTR light/fan with an OTR microwave/light/fan - upon unpacking, I discovered that the incompetents had designed the microwave so that the power cord stuck up in the FRONT of the cabinet above, and not in the middle where it would be covered by the cabinet facing.

That might be the design of the appliance or a flaw in the design of your cabinet. Older cabinets may not take appliances like this into consideration. I hope you can find one that will work!

You might also look really closely and see if there isn't a way to move the cord. Some will have knockouts or removable plates to route the cord different directions.
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ritchie70

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2014, 10:33:58 PM »
We went to replace our OTR light/fan with an OTR microwave/light/fan - upon unpacking, I discovered that the incompetents had designed the microwave so that the power cord stuck up in the FRONT of the cabinet above, and not in the middle where it would be covered by the cabinet facing. Offset, so that it's directly in the way of using the right-hand cabinet. [email protected]$#% that, microwave goes back.

On most face-frame cabinets there's a "hollow" above the microwave when you put it up, so you can just drill a hole in the back of the cabinet and route the cord back through the gap between microwave and bottom of cabinet. If it's a frameless cabinet then I guess the cord has to come up where the cord is.

TomTX

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2014, 06:50:21 PM »
We went to replace our OTR light/fan with an OTR microwave/light/fan - upon unpacking, I discovered that the incompetents had designed the microwave so that the power cord stuck up in the FRONT of the cabinet above, and not in the middle where it would be covered by the cabinet facing.

That might be the design of the appliance or a flaw in the design of your cabinet. Older cabinets may not take appliances like this into consideration. I hope you can find one that will work!

You might also look really closely and see if there isn't a way to move the cord. Some will have knockouts or removable plates to route the cord different directions.

No apparent knockouts, plates or anything describing that as a possibility in the manual, and the store employees (when I took it back) looked at it and shrugged.

There is no gap between the top of the current OTR fan/light and the bottom panel of the cabinet.

Is it somehow standard to have pan outlet in the front portion of a cabinet? That seems totally bizarre. Most electric should be at the back, with the box inside the wall.
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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2014, 08:25:56 AM »
Just wanted to give an update that we FINALLY installed the microwave over the weekend. It was a little more of a pain than we expected, because we had to run to the hardware store for two screws (didn't realize that the outlet store we bought it from didn't include them) and since the holes for the original micro didn't match the holes for the new one, my husband had to make new ones (which was quite an accomplishment, since he did it manually, without a drill!!).

Our very first DIY project in the bag. Hooray! Thanks to everyone on the forum that offered advice/rooted for us. It took about 2 hours, but saved us $150, so worth it in my book.

Greg

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2014, 09:46:05 AM »
Congratulations. You could do the math and figure you paid yourself about $30/hr... but there's more to it than the money not spent. You now have the experience that will inform future decisions. You now have more confidence to tackle future projects. You now have the skill that this translates into to help others... you see where I'm going with this.

Vandal09

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2015, 09:53:39 AM »
Resurrecting old topic with quick question:

I realize that the bracket that mounts the unit into the wall may or may not be the exact same on different models. What about the two screws that go into the cabinet above? Are they typically standard dimensions apart or can THAT vary too? We are trying to hang one, and my husband thinks that the unit's screws will be just far away enough from the existing holes to compromise the integrity of the hang.

Google is not helping me today..

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2015, 11:48:04 AM »
If I'm understanding your question correctly, I think it's an issue that popped up for us: the old microwave had two screws that were x big and x inches apart but the new one had screws that were y big and y inches apart. My husband just got new screws and made new holes; they were far away enough from the old ones that we don't feel the integrity was compromised (and it's still there, so we must've been right, lol...*knocks on wood*).

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2015, 11:54:52 AM »
If you already have a microwave installed...it's super easy to install a new one. You can use mounting bracket that's already installed. I did most of it and just called my husband up to help me lift the microwave into place. I have no idea why they charge $150 to install.


I just replaced our over the range microwave earlier this year, and being a different model it had a different type of mounting bracket.
Try to hit the studs when mounting the metal bracket, otherwise they also usually allow you to use a toggle bolt.
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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2015, 05:38:42 PM »
It was one of the easiest parts of our kitchen rehab project!
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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2015, 11:14:17 PM »
Resurrecting old topic with quick question:

I realize that the bracket that mounts the unit into the wall may or may not be the exact same on different models. What about the two screws that go into the cabinet above? Are they typically standard dimensions apart or can THAT vary too? We are trying to hang one, and my husband thinks that the unit's screws will be just far away enough from the existing holes to compromise the integrity of the hang.

Google is not helping me today..

No worries. Just go to the hardware section of the big box store and ask for a pair of "fender washers". These are oversized washers that will reinforce the area at the screw head. Just a guess, but a pair of 1/4" (hole size) by 1-1/2" (outside diameter) would probably be perfect and set you back about $0.40. Good luck.

Hamster

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2015, 11:19:22 PM »
Resurrecting old topic with quick question:

I realize that the bracket that mounts the unit into the wall may or may not be the exact same on different models. What about the two screws that go into the cabinet above? Are they typically standard dimensions apart or can THAT vary too? We are trying to hang one, and my husband thinks that the unit's screws will be just far away enough from the existing holes to compromise the integrity of the hang.

Google is not helping me today..

No worries. Just go to the hardware section of the big box store and ask for a pair of "fender washers". These are oversized washers that will reinforce the area at the screw head. Just a guess, but a pair of 1/4" (hole size) by 1-1/2" (outside diameter) would probably be perfect and set you back about $0.40. Good luck.
The location of the holes may vary, so you may need to drill new holes in your cabinet. Usually there is a paper template that comes with the new microwave. You can tape it to the bottom of your cabinet and then drill trough the paper.

minimalistmike

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Re: How hard is it to install an OTR microwave?
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2016, 04:02:37 PM »
I am attempting this myself now, at the end of a DIY kitchen remodel.

I was going to just install a recirculating microwave OTR which was there previously, but after demolishing the old kitchen, I found that it used to have ductwork to run outside, which someone cut and flattened, and covered with a piece of cardboard. I attached a photo of the ductwork as it is now.

I think I need to open the ceiling, attach a new 3.25 X 10 piece, that converts to a 6" flex tube to move it over a few inches, and then convert it back to 3.25 X 10 for a microwave.

My issues are:
-I have no idea how to connect ductwork. For some reason I cannot find a good reference for DIY ductwork. Any suggestions?
-The existing hole/duct measures something more like 4" x 11 or 11.5" for the inner diameter. It looks like 3.25" by 10" is the standard. Is it possible the existing ductwork is a slightly bigger size, and would need a special made duct converter to go to a 6" duct?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 04:07:31 PM by minimalistmike »