Replacing over-the-range microwave
January 11, 2019 1:57 PM   Subscribe

So my microwave died (or became immortal, since it won't turn off unless I unplug it), and I have questions.

I'm probably going to have to pay to get a new one installed, but looking at the Lowe's instructions for installation, I have a few questions. My plan is to just get the newest version of the old microwave, which is this one. The old one is at least twenty years old.
Lowe's says: Local codes and the manufacturer's directions will indicate the required height for the new microwave above the range.
Do I need to worry about this if I'm just getting the same (though updated) microwave and putting it in the same spot?
Lowe's says: If you have a gas range, check that the microwave is rated to work above your range.
How do I find this out from the online description?

In order to make this easier, I will probably just have Best Buy to deliver and install it, but it looks like I have to make a purchase before they show up. Or maybe I should (gasp) actually go to Best Buy and talk to a salesperson.

Any help is much appreciated.
posted by FencingGal to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like you are overthinking this. Do you have any reason to think that the current microwave wasn't installed properly, like at the wrong height or over an unusually hot burner? I would just get a new over-the-hood microwave and swap it in. That's what I did when my old GE one died.

I like the LG ones personally.
posted by w0mbat at 2:17 PM on January 11, 2019

Whoever's installing it won't check that it meets requirements, they're basically just punting and saying "look this is on you, make sure it's fine, especially if you're going to get inspected after you install this".

That said, the installation instructions say that the distance from the top of the stove to the bottom of the cabinet above the stove (not the bottom of the microwave, but the cabinet above that) needs to be 30", and while it doesn't specifically call out as "rated to work above your range" it is rated as an "over-the-range" microwave so it should be fine. Local regulations may vary, but if you're not like remodeling your kitchen and expecting a building inspector to show up, it should not matter.

The Best Buy salespeople won't have any idea, though they may happily make stuff up.
posted by brainmouse at 2:31 PM on January 11, 2019

Do I need to worry about this if I'm just getting the same (though updated) microwave and putting it in the same spot?

Depending on how old your house is, the code requirement for microwave-height-above-cookop might have changed since the initial install, and while the old microwave would be grandfathered in, you would technically be expected to meet code when installing the new one.

All of which isn't going to matter at all unless the house burns down and They can somehow prove that your out-of-code microwave caused it and then insurance wouldn't pay ...
posted by mccxxiii at 3:42 PM on January 11, 2019

How do I find this out from the online description?

For a given model, use the model number to find a pdf of the owner’s manual or installation instructions on the manufacturer’s website.
posted by jon1270 at 4:35 PM on January 11, 2019

FWIW, “microwave keeps running the fan when it’s off unless I unplug it” is usually a symptom of one or more broken microswitches in the door assembly. If you’re handy, it’s a $3.99 part- if not, you may be able to get a local appliance repair person to fix it for short money.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:00 PM on January 11, 2019

Swapped mine out with a different model of the same brand and the mounting bracket and screwholes in my cabinet were identical for the new one. It was literally a 5 minute task to swap them.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 8:32 PM on January 11, 2019

I'm with txtwinkletoes, that saves a ton of work when installing the new one.

GE microwaves are pretty much the same as Samsung units, so there's another brand you can check when pricing models.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:34 AM on January 12, 2019

In case you want more space above the range but don't want to go without an over-the-range microwave: low-profile models exist. Whirlpool makes a couple of them. They're one way to get extra space in there without losing either counter space or a microwave.
posted by asperity at 8:40 AM on January 12, 2019

Take a picture of it, take measurements to take to the store, and when you buy the new one, tell them you want to be certain it's correctly installed. Lowe's probably has installers and ask them to verify the installation. This article seems helpful, you can search further if you're concerned, cupboards and kitchen installation are pretty standardized.
posted by theora55 at 9:52 AM on January 12, 2019

Speaking practically, that message is for contractors who are doing kitchen installs/renovations the sort which require permitting and bonding and other such things.. The likelihood of you getting caught and getting dinged for a sub-code install of a microwave is infinitesimal except in the case where you have a kitchen fire and the insurance company pushes back.

Obviously, my first advice is to not light your kitchen on fire. However, these things are not always in our control, though a microwave replacement is a good opportunity to clean up the greasy build-up that occurs above ranges.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:06 PM on January 12, 2019

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