So, you’ve decided it’s time to replace your built-in microwave. Maybe it’s old and no longer heats food evenly. Or perhaps you’re just ready for an upgrade to a fancier model with more bells and whistles.
Whatever the reason, removing a built-in microwave is a bigger project than simply taking out a countertop version. But don’t worry – with some planning and elbow grease, you can totally handle this DIY job
1. Gather Your Tools
First things first – you’ll need to assemble the proper tools for the task. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Screwdrivers – both a Phillips and a flathead screwdriver will likely come in handy. You’ll be removing a variety of screws during this project.
- Socket wrench – if your microwave has any bolts rather than screws, this will help loosen them.
- Wire cutters/strippers – for disconnecting any wiring.
- Voltmeter – helpful for testing that the power is off before you begin.
- Ladder – especially if you have an over-the-range style microwave, a sturdy ladder will be essential.
- Headlamp or flashlight – to illuminate the back of the microwave and any hard-to-see areas.
- Work gloves – for protecting your hands during the removal process.
Once you’ve rounded up all the necessary tools, give them a quick test and make sure they’re in good working order before getting started. No one wants a screwdriver with a worn tip that keeps slipping off screw heads!
2. Shut Off Power Supply
Before you go poking around behind your microwave, you’ll want to shut off the power supply. This ensures you don’t get zapped by any live wires during the removal.
For most standard, plug-in microwaves, you can simply unplug the unit. But for hardwired, built-in models, you’ll have to turn off the circuit breaker for that part of the kitchen.
Use your voltmeter to double check that the power is off once you flip the breaker switch. Safety first!
3. Remove Outer Trim Pieces
Many built-in microwaves have decorative trim kits that encompass the outside of the unit. You’ll need to pop these off first before you can get to the real guts of the microwave.
Examine the trim pieces closely and look for any screws that you can remove with your screwdriver. There will also likely be some clips, tabs or adhesive holding the trim on. Carefully pry around the edges with a flathead screwdriver until you get the trim to release. Go slowly so you don’t crack the trim, especially on plastic pieces.
Set the trim kit aside somewhere safe so you can reinstall it later with the new microwave.
4. Detach Mounting Plate
Next, you need to remove the mounting plate or brackets that hold the microwave snugly in place.
Start by removing any screws along the top or sides that anchor the plate to surrounding cabinets or walls. This may require some awkward reaching and angling, so bust out that socket wrench for any hard-to-access spots.
There will also likely be a few screws along the underside or back attaching the plate to the microwave itself. Lay on your back or climb up your ladder to get a good look.
Once all the screws are out, you should be able to detach the entire mounting plate and set it aside.
5. Disconnect Wiring
Here’s where you’ll put those wire cutters/strippers to use. Most built-in microwaves have some wiring running to them, either for power or ventilation purposes.
Carefully inspect the back and underside of the microwave to find any wires that need disconnecting. Make sure the power is still switched off! Then, clip any zip ties bundling the wires together and use the wire strippers to remove a bit of the plastic coating at the ends.
Some models will have wire nuts or terminal blocks that you simply unscrew. For others, you’ll have to use a tiny flathead screwdriver to detach the individual wire connections.
Make sure to note where each wire was attached so you can reconnect them properly later. Safety tip: take photos with your phone for easy reference.
6. Unfasten From Cabinet
Okay, time for the big reveal – separating the microwave from the cabinetry surrounding it.
Look closely along both sides to find any additional screws or clips anchoring it to the cabinet walls. Remove these with your screwdriver. There may also be screws at the back or top.
If your microwave has vents that connect to external ductwork, there will be screws holding the ducting in place. Carefully remove these screws and detach the ductwork.
Some microwaves also have roof vents or charcoal filters at the top that need removing. Take out any remaining screws up there.
Once everything has been unfastened, you’re nearly ready to pull that baby out!
7. Remove Microwave Carefully
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – lifting the microwave out from the cabinet cutout. This is definitely a two person job given the weight of most built-in models.
Have your helper support the weight from the front as you push or pull the microwave forward. It will likely stick a bit as you slide it out. Wiggle it gently side to side to work it loose.
There will probably be some dust bunnies and gunk accumulated in the back from years of use. Make sure you have somewhere to set the microwave down temporarily while you clean up the space.
Inspect the back cavity once the microwave is removed. Vacuum up any debris and use a degreaser to tackle any built-up grease on the walls or vents.
Thoroughly cleaning the area now will make for smoother installing later. Nothing worse than trying to mount the new microwave with gross sticky stuff left behind!
8. Prep for New Microwave
Depending on the specs of your new microwave, you may need to make a few adjustments before installing it.
If the new unit is substantially heavier, you may need additional mounting support. Inspect the existing brackets and mounting plate. Are the screws adequately sized and anchored into studs? Is the plate sturdy enough or should you upgrade to a more heavy-duty version?
For ventilation requirements, examine the ductwork and make sure the ports align with the new microwave. You may need a duct adapter or longer run of ducting.
Lastly, think about the outlet situation. If the new microwave is in a different spot, can the current wiring reach? Do you need an electrician to install a fresh outlet? Better to figure that out now.
Okay, take a breather. The hard part – removing the old microwave – is done. Now you can focus on the fun stuff like unboxing your shiny new model!
A Few Final Tips
Here are some additional pointers to keep in mind during your built-in microwave removal and replacement project:
- Work slowly and carefully, especially when dealing with wiring. Rushed steps can lead to sloppy mistakes.
- Have a partner around for extra sets of hands. Someone to hold the ladder or help lift out the bulky microwave is invaluable.
- Take pictures before dismantling anything. Useful for keeping track of wiring, ductwork etc.
- Lay down tarps or towels in the work area to prevent drips, dust and debris.
- Wear safety goggles and a mask to protect your eyes and lungs while working.
- Keep all removed components organized (screws, trim pieces, mounting plate). Makes reassembly much smoother.
- Read the new microwave’s manual thoroughly so you know what to expect during installation.
- Dispose of the old microwave properly. Many recyclers will take electronics like this.
How do I remove the trim kit on my built-in microwave?
The trim kit is usually held on with clips, screws, or adhesive. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently pry around the edges of the trim to look for clips. Remove any screws you find with a Phillips head screwdriver. If the trim seems adhered on, carefully work a plastic scraper around the edges to loosen the adhesive. Work slowly to avoid cracking the trim.
What tools do I need to remove a built-in microwave?
Common tools needed are Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, a socket wrench, wire cutters/strippers, a voltmeter, a sturdy ladder, work gloves, and safety goggles. You may also find a plastic scraper, utility knife, and cordless drill helpful. Make sure you have the owner’s manual on hand too.
How can I tell if my microwave is hardwired or plugged into an outlet?
Check the back or underside of the microwave for a power cord. If there’s no cord and you see wires running directly into the unit, it is hardwired. This means you’ll have to shut off the circuit breaker instead of simply unplugging it.
What do I do if I can’t find the mounting screws?
Sometimes the screws are hidden behind trim pieces, so remove those first. Check along the interior sides and top of the cabinet cutout. Feel along the inside back wall for any covered screw holes. If there’s no obvious way to detach the mounting plate, look up your microwave’s make and model online for help locating its hidden screws.
How should I dispose of my old microwave?
Because microwaves contain metals, plastics, and electronics, they should not go to a regular landfill. Instead, look for an e-waste recycling center near you that accepts old appliances and electronics. Some metal recyclers will also take microwaves. You can also check with your local waste management company.
Can I repair a built-in microwave or should I just replace it?
It’s often very difficult and costly to repair built-in microwaves. Labor charges alone can exceed the price of a new unit. So replacement is usually better unless it’s a super expensive commercial-grade microwave. Know when to let go of old appliances!
What precautions should I take when removing a built-in microwave?
- Turn off circuit breaker/unplug before starting
- Use a voltmeter to confirm power is off
- Work carefully, don’t rush removal steps
- Have someone assist you, don’t lift solo
- Protect yourself with gloves, goggles, mask
- Take photos of wiring connections before removing
- Lay down tarps to catch dust and debris
Removing a built-in microwave is a more involved process than simply taking out a countertop model. But with the proper tools, safety precautions, and help from an extra pair of hands, it’s a doable DIY project for most homeowners. Just be sure to work slowly and methodically, especially when dealing with electrical connections.
Thoroughly clean the surrounding cabinet space once the old microwave is out to prep for a smooth new installation. With some patience and attention to detail, you can upgrade your kitchen with a brand new built-in microwave without breaking the bank on professional installation fees.
- How To Remove Built-In Microwave – Easy! – YouTube – This video provides a step-by-step guide on how to remove a built-in microwave.
- How To Remove And Install A Microwave | Over-The-Range – YouTube – This video demonstrates the process of removing and installing an over-the-range microwave.
- How To Remove An Over-The-Range Microwave – YouTube – In this video, you can learn how to remove an over-the-range microwave.
- Laura Report: Replacing a Microwave – YouTube – This video provides tips and guidance on replacing a microwave.
- Over the Counter Microwave Removal & Tips – YouTube – This video offers tips and instructions for removing an over-the-counter microwave.
- Built-in Microwave Installation Inside Kitchen Cabinet – YouTube – This video showcases the process of installing a built-in microwave inside a kitchen cabinet.