Cooking delicious meals quickly and conveniently is one of the best things about having a microwave. However, microwaves also come with some safety concerns. One such concern is microwave radiation, which can be harmful if not properly vented outside of your home.
Venting your microwave to the exterior of your house is crucial for removing smoke, grease, moisture, and unpleasant odors that build up over time. Proper venting also helps prevent heat and humidity damage to your walls and cabinetry.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the entire process of how to vent a microwave on an interior wall, from choosing the right location to connecting the exhaust system. We’ve also included helpful tips, safety precautions, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Follow along with these steps and you’ll have a safely vented microwave in no time!
Why Proper Microwave Venting is Essential
Before we get into the specifics, let’s review why proper ventilation is so important for your microwave:
- Removes smoke and odors: Cooking often produces smoke or unpleasant smells. Venting the microwave provides an escape route for these irritants.
- Prevents grease buildup: Grease residue can accumulate on your walls or cabinets over time. Venting pushes the grease outside before it has a chance to build up.
- Gets rid of excess moisture: Ventilation removes all that extra humidity that cooking adds to your kitchen’s air. Too much moisture promotes mold growth.
- Reduces high temperatures: Microwave ventilation lets all that heat escape outside instead of heating up your kitchen.
- Improves indoor air quality: Venting pollutants like cooking fumes and chemicals improves the air for you and your family.
Now that you know why ventilation matters, let’s look at how to vent that microwave.
Choosing the Right Location
The first step is picking an appropriate location on your interior wall for the microwave and ventilation system. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding on placement:
- Avoid locations with electrical wires, gas lines, or water pipes behind the wall.
- Check that the wall material is thin and easy to cut through. Brick or concrete walls make venting more difficult.
- Opt for upper wall placement, at least 15 inches above the countertop. This allows for proper airflow.
- Make sure the microwave blower fan will line up with the vent location.
- Keep the microwave at least 3 inches from adjacent surfaces for airflow.
- Consult your local building codes for any restrictions on microwave venting.
Once you’ve selected the perfect spot, it’s time to start installing the actual ventilation system.
Necessary Tools and Materials
Venting a microwave is a moderately difficult DIY job. Here’s a checklist of the tools and supplies you’ll need:
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Drill and drill bits
- Duct tape
- Microwave mounting template
- Mounting brackets
- Vent hood
- Vent adaptor
- Aluminum vent duct
- Exterior vent cap
- Roofing nails or screws
With your materials gathered, you’re ready to begin the vent installation process.
Step-by-Step Guide to Venting a Microwave on an Interior Wall
Follow these steps in order when venting your over-the-range microwave to the inside wall:
Step 1: Make a Template
Use a pencil to trace a template of the microwave’s footprint onto the wall where you’ll install it. This serves as a cutting guide later on. Note the locations of wall studs for securing the mounting bracket screws.
Step 2: Cut the Vent Hole
Using your template as a guide, cut out a hole in the wall for the vent. Make sure to cut between the studs. Wear safety goggles and a mask to protect yourself from drywall dust.
Step 3: Install the Vent Hood
Attach the vent hood securely over the hole using the provided screws. Caulk around the periphery of the hood to seal it to the wall. The hood covers the rough edges of the hole.
Step 4: Attach the Mounting Bracket
Following your microwave’s instructions, screw the mounting bracket into the wall studs. Make sure it’s level. Use toggle bolts if attaching to drywall without studs.
Step 5: Install the Microwave
Lift the microwave and hang it on the bracket. Feed the power cord through the hole in the bottom cabinet. Secure the microwave in place by tightening the bracket screws.
Step 6: Attach the Vent Adapter
Connect the vent adapter to the microwave’s exhaust outlet. Adjust it to fit correctly. Seal the connection with aluminum tape to make it air tight.
Step 7: Install the Vent Duct
Feed the vent duct through the hole and connect it to the outlet of the vent adapter. Make sure all joints are sealed with tape to prevent leaks. Extend the duct to the outdoor vent hood.
Step 8: Attach the Outdoor Vent Cap
On the exterior wall, attach the vent cap over the duct’s opening. Use caulk and roofing screws to seal around the cap’s edges to the wall. This prevents water intrusion.
With all the components installed, your microwave venting system is nearly complete!
Step 9: Run a Ventilation Test
Turn on your microwave’s vent fan. Go outside and check that air blows out of the outdoor vent cap. Also verify that no steam or moisture escapes through any joints in the system.
Make any final adjustments needed for smooth, leak-free ventilation. Install insulation around the vent duct if needed to reduce heat loss or gain.
Microwave Venting Safety Tips
Proper safety precautions are a must when installing ventilation for your microwave:
- Turn off power at the circuit breaker before starting.
- Follow the exact microwave manufacturer instructions.
- Vent outdoor to avoid indoor moisture buildup.
- Wear safety goggles and a mask when cutting drywall.
- Support the microwave’s weight securely with the mounting bracket.
- Keep all duct joints tightly sealed with aluminum tape.
- Avoid flexible ducts, which can’t handle heat or grease well.
- Insulate ductwork runs to minimize energy loss/gain.
- Hire a professional if you lack the DIY skills.
Taking the right safety measures makes a safe installation much more likely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all microwaves need to be vented outside?
Yes, microwave ventilation should always be routed to the exterior of the house. Venting back into the kitchen can cause moisture issues.
What is the best way to vent a microwave on an interior wall?
Cut a vent hole between studs, install a duct to the top of the wall, then add an exterior vent hood to route fumes outside. Avoid downward venting.
Can I use duct tape instead of aluminum tape on the joints?
No, only use specialized metal tape on microwave duct joints. Duct tape won’t withstand the hot air and could release chemicals.
How long can the vent duct run be?
The maximum recommended duct run is 140 feet, including elbows and bends. Longer runs can impede proper airflow.
Do I need insulation around the ducts?
Insulation around the vent ducts helps prevent indoor heat or cold loss. It also reduces dampness from condensation.
What size vent duct do I need?
For best airflow, use 6 or 7-inch diameter rigid metal ductwork. Flexible ducts often have insufficient airflow capacity.
How much does professional installation cost?
A typical professional microwave venting installation costs $200 to $500, depending on the complexity. DIY venting can save on labor costs.
Can you put tape in the microwave?
No, do not microwave any type of tape. It can be dangerous, causing fires or appliance damage. Microwaving tape also won’t make it sticky again, so there’s no benefit to doing it.
Improve Microwave Safety with Proper Venting
Cooking delicious meals quickly and safely is an important part of any functional kitchen. But as a major appliance, your microwave also requires proper installation, especially regarding ventilation.
Venting your microwave not only improves air quality but also protects your home from heat, grease, and moisture damage over time. Carefully following the steps in this guide will allow you to direct vent your microwave safely to the exterior.
While the process involves some challenging construction work, the peace of mind of having a safely-vented microwave is well worth the effort. So equip yourself with the right tools, review the safety tips, and get ready for a weekend project that makes your kitchen safer.