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Replace a microwave over the range

It’s not hard to replace a microwave over the range.

When I bought this house 10 ½ years ago, it had an undercabinet microwave in the kitchen. I don’t know if the previous owners told me how old it was or not. It was an Ewave, which is a brand Magic Chef uses when they don’t want to put the Magic Chef brand on it. So it was a budget manufacturer’s lowest-tier microwave. It was a little temperamental but mostly worked, so I can’t complain about it all that much.

But it got worse over the last couple of months. The right keypresses registered about half the time when you used the keypad. We decided to replace it just as soon as we could. Finances have been tight this year, but fortunately we got a sale right around the time we were able to afford to get one. We picked up a low-end Whirlpool microwave on special for $50 below retail, which essentially meant we got a Whirlpool for the price of a Magic Chef. It’s bigger than our Magic Chef was, and gets better reviews than the current Magic Chef appliances. I recommend basic appliances from reputable makers. Microwaves are no different, but I’d rather buy a new one on sale than a used microwave.

Installation is the hardest part, but it’s easier than it first appears.

I got lucky and the first search I found on Youtube on removing an undercabinet microwave just happened to depict them taking out my exact old microwave. And the first search on installing a new one just happened to depict them installing my new one. Other than the location of the bolts holding it in place, there isn’t a lot of difference from one to the other, but my pure blind dumb luck did give me a boost of confidence.

Removing the old microwave over the range

I enlisted my wife’s help, and we got the old one down in about 15 minutes. There wasn’t any more to it than removing two bolts from inside the cabinet, then tilting the microwave down to lift it off the back bracket screwed into the wall. Then, removing the old bracket was the easy part.

Installing the new microwave over the range

The new microwave required new measuring, new holes in the cabinet, and a new bracket, but it came with templates for all of that. If you buy the same brand as the old one, it might fit the same, but don’t count on that being the case.

Working carefully and double-checking everything, it all fit on the first try. One of the holes in the cabinet didn’t fit well, mind you, but drilling your holes slightly oversize gives you wiggle room. I recommend you do that.

I probably did 30-45 minutes of prep work. One thing that made it easier is that someone, years ago, marked out the studs, so I didn’t have to find them myself. You’re supposed to screw the bracket into two studs to hold it, and that part ended up being easy. Somehow I even got the bracket level the first time, eyeballing it. I take no credit for that, either. My last two appliance projects were much harder than I expected, so I must have just been due for an easy one. That’s all I’ll say.

The day the microwave arrived, my mother-in-law happened to be visiting, so I enlisted her to help. I notched the microwave into the bracket with my wife’s help, then they tipped up and held the microwave in place while I bolted the microwave into place from the top. That part only took about five minutes.

Figuring the savings

So, by watching a couple of Youtube videos and being willing to take a chance, we probably saved another $40. I don’t know if the stores charge $50 or $100 to install, but I know someone who probably would have done it for $40-$50. Some online estimators estimate $120 for installation, but that seems high. I was able to do the work in about an hour total, and someone with better tools would have gotten it done faster than me, not slower.

So, even though it looked like an intimidating task, it really wasn’t bad at all. And even though it is a basic microwave, it has more features than the one it replaced, and it works well.

What if you don’t have an electrical outlet right by the microwave? Here’s some help for doing that safely and cheaply without tearing into walls.

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