Over-the-range (OTR) microwaves are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their versatility and convenience. However, as kitchen tastes evolve, more people are opting to replace their microwave with a stylish and powerful range hood.
Switching from an OTR microwave to a range hood comes with plenty of benefits. Range hoods tout superior venting capabilities to clear the air of smoke and odors while cooking. They also typically have higher CFM ratings than microwaves. Plus, range hoods can completely transform the look of your kitchen and free up valuable counter space.
Replacing your existing microwave with a range hood is a project you can DIY with proper planning and precaution. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire microwave removal and range hood installation process step-by-step.
Overview of Replacing a Microwave with a Range Hood
Here is a quick rundown of the steps involved in swapping out an over-the-range microwave for a new range hood:
- Clear out the cabinet space above the microwave and gather supplies.
- Disconnect and remove any existing venting ductwork.
- Unplug the microwave and disconnect wiring.
- Remove mounting screws and lift microwave off the mounting plate.
- Take down old mounting plate and patch walls as needed.
- Choose range hood style and location based on kitchen layout.
- Cut venting holes for ducting through cabinets, wall or roof.
- Install range hood by securing to wall and connecting wiring.
- Attach any ductwork and venting for exterior ventilation.
- Complete range hood installation and testing.
Be sure to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s installation instructions for your new range hood prior to getting started. While this project is certainly DIY-friendly, you may also want to enlist the help of an electrician if you are uncomfortable dealing with the electrical wiring portion of the installation.
Tools and Materials Needed
Gather the following tools and materials before beginning the microwave removal process:
- Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers
- Power drill with assorted drill bits
- Duct tape
- Utility knife
- Stud finder
- Socket wrench set
- Saw (reciprocating or oscillating multifunction)
- Caulking gun
- Wire stripper
- Drywall repair supplies (patch, tape, mud)
For installing the range hood:
- Approved rigid or flexible metal venting ductwork
- Vent hood or damper
- Wire connectors
- Range hood mounting template
- Mounting hardware (screws, anchors, washers)
- Safety goggles
- Work gloves
- Dust mask
- Ear protection
Follow these steps to safely remove your over-the-range microwave and install a high-powered range hood in its place.
Preparing for Microwave Removal
Before taking the microwave down, you’ll need to disconnect and reroute any venting as well as disconnect the power source.
1. Clear out the surrounding cabinet space. Remove everything from the cabinet above the microwave all the way to the top. This gives you room to access wiring, venting, and mounting points.
2. Disconnect venting ductwork (if present). Tracing the ducting from the microwave vent to the ceiling, carefully disconnect any sections running through cabinets or walls and cap them off.
If venting out the roof, you’ll need to go up into the attic to remove ducting from the microwave vent hood. Make sure to cap off any open vents once disconnected.
3. Turn off power and unplug microwave. Locate the outlet and unplug the microwave. Then turn off power to outlet at main electrical panel. Test with a voltmeter to be sure.
4. Disconnect wiring. If hardwired, disconnect the wiring connection to the microwave inside the top cabinet per local electrical code. Cap wires with wire nuts.
Removing the Over-the-Range Microwave
With the power disconnected, venting removed, and upper cabinet cleared out, you’re ready to detach and remove the microwave unit itself.
1. Remove mounting screws. The microwave is partially held in place by screws along the top going through the cabinet and into the unit. Using a Phillips head screwdriver, remove the screws from inside the top cabinet.
2. Lift microwave off mounting plate. Get a helper to assist with this part. Slowly lift the microwave up and tilt it forward to remove it from the mounting plate. Be very careful, as the microwave is heavy and awkward to maneuver. Set it down gently on a protected surface.
3. Take down mounting plate. Unscrew any remaining screws or bolts attaching the mounting plate to the wall. Remove plate and set aside.
4. Patch up wall as needed. Examine the wall for any holes or damage from the old mounting plate. Fill holes with drywall putty. Repair and repaint wall if necessary.
Preparing the Installation Area
To ensure proper range hood installation and operation, take time to prep the install area above your stove.
1. Choose range hood type. Select a ducted or ductless range hood designed for your cooking equipment (electric or gas). Opt for a style that matches your kitchen’s decor.
2. Pick installation location. Use the template included with the range hood to find the best placement based on your stove and cabinets. Mark carefully.
3. Find studs. Use a stud finder to locate and mark the positions of any wall studs in the installation area. You’ll need to anchor the mounting hardware into the studs.
4. Inspect for obstructions. Check behind the wall for wiring or plumbing pipes before cutting any vent holes. Adjust vent location if needed.
Creating Ventilation Holes
Ducted range hoods require cutting holes for exterior ventilation. Take time to measure carefully before cutting.
1. Cut inner vent hole. Use a drywall saw to cut the inner vent hole, following your template outlines. Make it slightly larger than the ducting diameter.
2. Drill locator holes. Using an extended drill bit, make guide holes from the inside vent hole through to the exterior wall in several spots.
3. Cut siding for exterior vent. Go outside and mark the exit point for the exterior vent hole based on your locator holes. Carefully cut a matching hole in the exterior siding.
4. Install vent cap. Seal any gaps between the vent cap and siding with exterior caulk. Secure the vent cap to the exterior wall with provided screws.
Installing the Range Hood
With proper prep work completed, you’re ready to mount the range hood and connect ducting and electrical.
1. Mount range hood base. Line up any attaching brackets or mounting plate. Drill pilot holes into wall studs. Secure with mounting screws but don’t tighten all the way yet.
2. Attach ductwork. Connect properly sized metal ducting between the hood and exterior damper/vent cap using duct tape to seal joints.
3. Wire electrical connection. Refer to manufacturer instructions. Connect the range hood wiring to your household wiring. Ensure wires are properly sized and matched.
4. Secure range hood. Tighten all mounting screws/brackets. Make sure hood is centered and level before final tightening. Replace any panels removed.
5. Caulk exterior. Apply exterior silicone caulk around the vent cap to seal it to the siding.
6. Reinstall filters. Replace any grease filters, charcoal filters, or vent covers previously removed.
7. Verify functionality. Turn breaker and power back on at electrical panel. Power on range hood, test all speeds, and ensure ventilation is working properly.
Range Hood Operation and Maintenance
Follow these tips to keep your new range hood running efficiently for years to come:
- Always use the range hood when cooking to maintain air quality.
- Clean reusable grease filters regularly using hot soapy water or degreaser.
- Replace disposable charcoal filters every 6-12 months based on usage.
- Use a range hood cleaner or stainless steel polish/cleaner to keep exterior surfaces sparkling.
- Have ductwork professionally cleaned every 2-3 years to remove grease buildup.
- Call an electrician for any wiring issues – do not attempt electrical repairs yourself.
Upgrading from an over-the-range microwave to a high-powered range hood is an involved but rewarding project that can completely transform your kitchen. Carefully following the steps above will ensure safe removal of the existing microwave and proper installation of the new range hood venting.
While this is certainly a DIY-friendly job, don’t be afraid to call in a professional electrician or contractor if any portion of the project falls outside your experience level. Proper planning, safety precautions, and adherence to local building codes are a must throughout the installation process.
With the right tools and some handy home improvement skills, you can successfully swap out a microwave for a gorgeous new range hood in your kitchen. Just take it slow and be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific range hood model before getting started. In no time, you’ll be cooking with ease under your kitchen’s stylish new centerpiece.
Frequently Asked Questions About Replacing a Microwave with a Range Hood
Is it hard to replace a microwave with a range hood?
Replacing a microwave with a range hood takes moderate DIY skill and proper planning. The existing microwave must be fully removed, venting holes must be cut, and the new hood requires electrical wiring work. Having an electrician assist with the wiring makes the project much easier.
Do I have to vent a range hood outside?
Most range hoods must be vented to the exterior to function properly. However, ductless range hoods simply filter and recirculate interior air and do not require external venting.
What’s the difference between a range hood and a microwave hood?
Microwave hoods combine a microwave with a basic vent fan for light cooking. Range hoods are powerful ventilation systems designed for heavy stove usage and feature superior CFM ratings compared to microwave hoods.
Can I mount a range hood under kitchen cabinets?
Yes, range hoods are commonly installed under cabinets. This is known as an under-cabinet range hood. They can also be wall-mounted or installed as part of an island.
How much does it cost to install a range hood?
Install costs vary depending on hood type and ventilation needs. Expect to spend $200-$500 on materials to install yourself. Professional installation with electrical/ductwork could run $800-$2,000.
Is it worth replacing a microwave with a range hood?
If you do a lot of frying, searing, or use your stove frequently, a range hood can make a big difference in keeping kitchen air clean and ventilated. Range hoods also free up counter space taken up by microwaves.