How to Uninstall an Over-the-Range Microwave

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It is not difficult to uninstall an over the range microwave.
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Perhaps you want to remove the microwave over the stove to replace it. Maybe you have to repair the stove exhaust fan, or maybe you just want to use the space occupied by the microwave as an extra storage cabinet.

You won't have much trouble getting the microwave out, because it's designed to come out easily, although you may have to know a trick to get it off the wall. One thing to keep in mind is that it's heavy, so this is definitely an opportunity to ask that neighbor whose walk you shoveled last winter to repay the favor. You'll need the help.

Removing an Over-the-Range Microwave

Before doing anything else, unplug the microwave. A microwave doesn't use as much power as an electric stove, so it's seldom hardwired into the circuitry. It has a standard 120-volt power cord, which is plugged into a wall receptacle, usually located inside the cabinet above the microwave. Locate the plug, pull it out and feed it through the hole in the cabinet so it won't offer any resistance when you pull the microwave out.

Next, look for two or three mounting screws in the bottom of the cabinet above the microwave. These are attached to the top front of the microwave, and you have to unscrew them with a drill and screwdriver bit. Once they are out, you're ready to dismount the microwave from the mounting bracket holding it to the back wall.

To dismount the microwave, tilt the front down to disengage the clips on the back from the mounting plate. This is easy when there's no shelf underneath the microwave, which is usually the case. If there is one, it helps to open the door, put your arms inside the microwave compartment and lift the back of the unit. Once the clips are disengaged, get someone to help you support the unit, then pull the microwave straight out and set it down on the floor.

Microwave Won't Come Off

You might find that the microwave doesn't come off the mounting bracket as easily as planned. Some manufacturers provide holding rods to guarantee the unit won't become disengaged all by itself when you open the door. These rods are described at Home Construction & Improvement.

Remove the front cover of the microwave just above the door to access the holding rods. You'll see one on either side of the body of the appliance, at the top. Loosen each rod with a screwdriver to allow the microwave to pivot, then lower the front of the microwave to disengage it from the bracket and pull it out.

Some locking mechanisms require you to pull a trip wire at the back of the unit or insert a flat tool to disengage a spring-loaded clip. If you can't easily extract the microwave after removing the mounting screws from the cabinet above, don't try to force it. Replace the screws and consult the owner's manual for the proper way to disengage it from the bracket, then start over.

Complete the Uninstallation Procedure

If you want to replace an over-the-range microwave with a vent hood or you want to convert the space to a storage cabinet, you'll have to remove the mounting plate from the wall. You probably also have to do this if you're replacing the microwave with a new one because each model has its own bracket.

The bracket is usually held to the wall with lag screws, and the best way to unscrew these is with a socket wrench. Once the bracket is gone, you can either install a new one or patch the holes with drywall joint compound and paint the wall.

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Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.

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