How to Remove an Over-the-Range Microwave

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An over-the-range (OTR) microwave is a great way to save counter space in your kitchen. Mounted above your stove, it frees up room below for extra workspace or appliances. But when it comes time to replace your OTR microwave, you’ll need to know how to safely take it down. With some simple tools and careful handling, you can remove an over-the-range microwave yourself.

Here’s a quick answer: To remove an over-the-range microwave, first unplug the appliance and clear the area underneath. Use a screwdriver to detach the microwave from the upper cabinets and wall bracket by removing the screws. Tilt the microwave forward to release it from the tabs. Carefully lift the microwave off the bracket and out of the opening. Set it down securely and take down the wall bracket. Get help for lifting and use caution moving the microwave.

Step-by-Step Guide to Remove an Over-the-Range Microwave

Removing an over-the-range (OTR) microwave is a straightforward process that can be done in just a few steps if proper precautions are taken. Follow this step-by-step guide for safe and easy microwave removal:

Step 1: Unplug the microwave and clear anything underneath it

Before removing your OTR microwave, locate the outlet and unplug the appliance completely to disconnect power. Make sure to remove any items sitting on the counters or stove top below the microwave as well. Clearing the area gives you open access to work.

Step 2: Remove the screws connecting the microwave to the bottom of the upper cabinets

To detach the microwave from the upper cabinets, open the cabinet doors right above the unit. Look along the underside of the cabinets to locate the 2-3 screws that anchor the microwave in place. Use a screwdriver to loosen these screws slowly while supporting the weight of the microwave from underneath. Have an assistant hold the microwave securely as you detach the screws.

Step 3: Tilt the front of the microwave forward to release it from the mounting bracket tabs

Once all the cabinet screws are removed, you’ll need to tilt the microwave forward to release it from the mounting bracket tabs. Have your assistant continue holding the weight while you tilt the front of the microwave forward about 30 degrees. This motion will detach the mounting tabs.

Step 4: Lift the microwave off the bracket and carefully maneuver it out of the wall opening

As you tilt the microwave clear of the bracket, lift up slightly to fully detach. Carefully maneuver the microwave out of the wall cutout, moving slowly to avoid hitting the appliance or yourself. Safely set the microwave down on a sturdy, flat surface once it’s fully removed.

Step 5: Take down the now-empty mounting bracket

With the microwave detached, take down the now-empty mounting bracket by removing the screws holding it to the wall. Completely remove the old bracket to clear the way for your new one. Fill any holes and repaint the wall after taking down the old bracket.

Step 6: Safely move the microwave to a new location

Move the unplugged microwave securely to a new location, whether to storage or its final disposition. Use caution when moving not to drop, bang, or damage the appliance. Carrying with two people is best. Use an appliance dolly if moving solo. Ensure the path is clear before transporting.

Step 7: Install the new microwave

To install the replacement microwave, first attach the new mounting bracket centered on the wall. Lift the new OTR microwave into place, resting it while you connect the bracket tabs and upper cabinet screws. Reconnect electric power and test for proper operation before regular use.

Following these safe removal steps allows you to upgrade your over-the-range microwave smoothly. Take care, work slowly, and get assistance for a safe and successful microwave switch out.

FAQs About Removing Over-the-Range Microwaves

Removing an over-the-range microwave involves working at elevated heights. Follow safety tips and techniques to avoid injury or damage. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What size ladder should I use?

Use a 6-8 foot stepladder for comfortable working height. Ensure it is fully extended, with spreaders locked. Position it securely near the wall before climbing. Have a spotter hold the ladder steady.

How much does a typical microwave weigh?

Microwave ovens weigh between 35-100 pounds depending on size and features. Dimensions can span from as small as 0.7 cubic feet up to over 2 cubic feet capacity. Having an assistant support the weight makes removal much safer.

Do I need special tools?

A basic screwdriver, either manual or power drill, will suffice. In some cases, a socket wrench may be needed for any bolts or hex screws. The wall mounting bracket typically uses standard Phillips head screws.

What if I can’t unscrew the bracket?

Applying penetrating oil or lubricant to the screws can help loosen a stuck bracket. Let it soak in for 10-15 minutes. Slowly apply force when turning the screwdriver, but avoid stripping the screws. Seek help if unable to get them freed up.

Can I hang the new microwave on the old bracket?

It’s not recommended to reuse an old mounting bracket. New microwaves come with updated brackets designed specifically for that model. Using old hardware risks an unsafe or unstable installation. Remove the old bracket fully before installing the new one.

What if the microwave won’t slide out?

If caught on the cabinet walls, gently tilt or rotate the microwave to maneuver it free. You may need to detach any side trim pieces or vent grating first. Take care not to force the appliance through an opening or bend the casing.

How do I check if the vent duct needs replacement?

Visually inspect the ductwork for any blockages, bends, or detachments. Look for gaps between sections or at joints. Shine a flashlight in one end to check for obstructions. Ensure adequate airflow by holding a tissue at the vent outlet when the fan is on.

What if my microwave doesn’t have a vent?

For microwaves without ventilation, removal is simpler. There is no ductwork to contend with. The unit will be screwed directly into the cabinet bottom. Support its weight securely as you detach each screw, then lift out carefully once freed.

Can I convert a vented microwave space to cabinet storage?

Yes, you can add shelves or drawers to convert it to storage space. First, seal off any open ductwork to prevent airflow issues. Then construct shelving sized to fit the cavity. Ensure shelves are securely mounted before loading any items.

What do I do with my old microwave?

Check for local recycling options or consider donating to Habitat for Humanity or other reuse programs if still functional. Some retailers also accept old appliances. Safely dispose at your municipal waste facility if not being reused.


Removing an over-the-range microwave is a straightforward process that can be done safely with some simple tools and help. After disconnecting all power and clearing the area, detaching it from the wall bracket and cabinet requires only unscrewing a few screws.

With care taken not to damage the surrounding cabinets or the appliance itself, the unit can be lifted out and replaced. A new mounting bracket will be needed to install an upgraded microwave. With a bit of handiwork, you can increase your kitchen functionality and keep cooking with convenience.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!

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