I had a 13-year-old microwave quit in a rental unit the other week, so I had to replace it. No problem, I figured. When I changed the one in my house it took less than an hour. But this one didn’t go as easy. If your over the range microwave is stuck, like mine, here’s what to try next.
Over the range microwaves typically hook onto a bracket attached to the wall, then hang from the cabinets on 2-3 large bolts. But some have extra hooks higher up on the brackets, and if yours is stuck, that’s probably why.
The way it’s supposed to work
The way it’s supposed to work is you remove the bolts from the cabinet while a helper supports the microwave. When you remove the last bolt, the microwave will want to tilt down. Get down from the ladder, support one side while your helper moves to the other side, tilt the microwave down, then lift it off the bracket. Simple.
In my experience, that’s how it goes with Whirlpool and Magic Chef microwaves. I recommend those. Simple is good.
How to remove a stuck over the range microwave
If your over the range microwave is stuck, there’s one or more extra hooks in the bracket that attaches to the wall. Those are there for safety and frustration. Really it’s probably supposed to be safety, and while I appreciate that, they make an easy job way more difficult than it needs to be.
I ended up having to hire a handyman to help, because I couldn’t figure out how to get the microwave out. It took him a while too. What we ended up having to do was let the microwave tilt down, then lift the back as far up as we could to unhook it. Unfortunately I can’t think of any better way to describe the process. You can’t lift it very far, obviously. And you may very well get one side unhooked before the other. It’s a fiddly job, but with two people and a ton of patience, you can eventually wrangle the stuck microwave out. Once you get one side unhooked, it’s a little easier to figure out how to get the other side because you have a pretty good idea what you did the first time.
I have heard of people prying them out with a crowbar. That will work, but you risk damaging your cabinets, so I don’t recommend that except as a last resort. Did I try that? Yes. But I found that if I was gentle enough to not risk the cabinet, the microwave didn’t budge.
My microwave was a Sharp, for what it’s worth, but this can happen with other brands too, from what I understand.
What to do if your replacement microwave has hooks
If your replacement microwave has hooks on its bracket, that means your new microwave will get stuck when the time comes to replace it. In my experience, microwaves last about 10 years. That may mean it will be someone else’s problem. If you’re nice, or you don’t want to risk it, you have two choices. You can try to cut the hooks off the bracket. If you don’t have metalworking tools, that can be difficult. It can be difficult even with metalworking tools. The light-duty tools I have for making metal toy trains don’t play well with the heavier gauge steel on these brackets.
There’s another option which is probably easier. You can take the microwave back to the store and exchange it for a Whirlpool or a Magic Chef.
But all of that is up to you.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.