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How to Install a Microwave Drawer

A microwave drawer offers exceptional convenience without sacrificing coveted counter space.Sharp Electronics

A microwave drawer offers exceptional convenience without sacrificing coveted counter space.

A built-in microwave drawer may be the answer to one of kitchen remodeling’s eternal questions: where to place the microwave, without a) sacrificing valuable counter workspace or, b) creating another major project of reconfiguring the ventilation system above the cooktop. Microwave drawers can be easily installed in base cabinets below countertops or in wall assemblies like wall ovens.[GARD align=”left”]

Microwave drawers come as preassembled, self-contained units with ventilation systems built in. The cooking compartments may slide in and out with a slight pull or push that activates an electric motor or at the touch of a button. Some units operate with both, and all other electronic controls are usually mounted on the drawer front.

The cabinet that you’ll build the microwave drawer into must be equipped with a dedicated, 120-volt, breaker-protected, grounded electric line terminating in a 3-prong receptacle. Most manufacturers recommend that the outlet be positioned in the back of the cabinet at the top. Have a licensed professional do the electrical work.

 

Selecting the Right Size

Across all brands, the basic choices are 24-, 27-, and 30-inch microwave drawer units. These dimensions are nominal and refer to the width across the drawer front from left to right. Stock base cabinets are generally available in widths from 12 inches to 60 inches wide in increments of 3 inches, so it shouldn’t be difficult to obtain a cabinet into which the microwave drawer unit will fit, if there’s not one in your kitchen already.

Key Installation Dimensions of a 24-inch Microwave DrawerSharp Electronics

Key installation dimensions of a Sharp 24-inch microwave drawer

The main trick to installing microwave drawers successfully is to select carefully and match the size of the unit to the space available inside the cabinet or wall niche you plan to install it in. That’s not always so easy without actually getting your hands on the unit(s) you’re interested in and taking the overall measurements of the part that fits inside the cabinet. Manufacturers’ spec sheets are famously imprecise and often confusing.

For aesthetic purposes, it’s also important to measure the overall width and height of the microwave drawer front to make sure that it’ll overlap the rails and stiles of cabinet that it will be installed in and align pleasingly with adjacent cabinet fronts, namely doors and drawer fronts. As you select and plan, also mind the door height, the height of the microwave enclosure that’s to fit inside the cabinet and recommended clearances specified by the manufacturer. In all likelihood, the position of the shelf on which the floor of the microwave will rest will have to be adjusted for successful installation.

Before you settle on a specific microwave drawer model, also measure the cabinet you’re planning to install it in. Take off the existing fronts (drawers/and or doors) and measure:

    • Overall width
    • Inside width
    • Inside depth

Cabinet Alterations

If the cabinet has a face-frame, measure the width of the opening across the front from left to right between the stiles (vertical frame members). Will the microwave drawer unit fit in, or will you have to trim the inside edges of the face frame? If you do need to trim, you can use a router with a trim bit and guide or a reciprocating saw to enlarge the opening.[GARD align=”left”]

If the cabinet doesn’t have a face frame, you may have to add some 1-by-2s or some other form of filler panels to the inside of the cabinet sides to narrow the opening and provide an adequate fastening surface for the microwave drawer flange, which will ultimately be screwed to the cabinet face to hold the unit in place.

Also compare the inside depth of the cabinet to the depth of the microwave drawer enclosure measured from the face flange to the back of the unit. Will the flange fit flush against the front edges of the cabinet or face frame? If not, try cutting out the back of the cabinet to gain more space.

 

Supporting the Microwave Drawer

You need to establish a shelf or platform for the microwave drawer to rest on. With a helper, set the complete microwave unit on blocks inside the cabinet, using shims to get it to exactly the right height, parallel to the bottom of the countertop and/or top rail. When the temporary position of the unit seems perfect, mark the inside of the cabinet walls, tracing with a marker against the bottom of the microwave enclosure. Cut a shelf from ¾-inch plywood. Fasten wooden cleats to the inside of the cabinet ¾ inches below those marks and then fasten the plywood shelf on top of them. The shelf must be stationary and sturdy enough to support a minimum of 150 pounds.

Cutout opening requirements for a Sharp 24-in. microwave drawer; requirements differ for different sizes and brands.Sharp Electronics

Cutout opening requirements for a Sharp 24-inch microwave drawer; requirements differ for different sizes and brands.

Depending on the design of your kitchen cabinets, you may wish to add a face-frame rail (horizontal member) to conceal the edge of the shelf. Your cabinet manufacturer can probably supply a length of matching stock. You may also order new doors or drawer fronts of the correct size to finish the opening below the microwave installation.

 

Finishing the Installation

Also note in the drawing above that you’ll need to install an “anti-tip block” wedge to the installed microwave drawer against the top of the cabinet. Use a block of 2-by lumber trimmed to whatever dimension provides a tight fit. The anti-tip block should be screwed to the cabinet sidewall.

With the cutout finished and the outlet and anti-tip block in place, plug the microwave’s power cord in, and slide the unit into the opening. Drive screws through the face flange when it’s flush with the cabinet front, and you’re done.

 

Michael Chotiner is an expert home-construction DIYer and writes on home appliances for Home Depot. Michael’s advice on microwave drawers is geared to help homeowners understand the basics of installation. Home Depot’s selection of microwave drawers, as well as a full assortment of microwave ovens, can be viewed on the Home Depot website.

Ranges & Ovens

Cooktop & Range Care

Keeping a gas range clean is the most important step toward reliable performance.Tab62 / Shutterstock.com

Keeping a gas range clean is the most important step toward reliable performance.

The key to keeping a kitchen range operating properly is to clean it regularly. Beyond that basic maintenance, only a couple of repair jobs are within the skills of most homeowners because most repairs require a thorough understanding of the appliance.

With the help of an owner’s manual, you can replace door gaskets, adjust the feet beneath a range to correct for uneven cooking, and relight a pilot. Of course, you can also reposition racks if foods are cooking unevenly, and you can check cords, circuit breakers, and fuses.

If your range or oven has an electric element that you know is faulty, replacing it is usually fairly easy. Just remove the element as shown in the illustrations below, take it to an appliance parts store to get an exact replacement, and install the new part. Don’t forget to reconnect the power when you’re finished.

Before doing any work on the stovetop, always unplug the range or turn off the power at the main electrical panel. Do not hesitate to call a professional appliance repair person if you have any doubts about your knowledge or abilities to repair an electric range.

Lift off control knobs for thorough cleaning.Tab62 / Shutterstock.com

Lift off control knobs for thorough cleaning.

Here are a few tips for cleaning your range:

• Clean up spills soon after they occur. Some acidic foods, such as tomato products, can damage the surface of the cooktop or interior of the oven.

• Loosen cooked-on gunk with water or baking soda and water; do not use abrasive materials, which can scratch surfaces.

• Keep the reflector bowls of gas burners clean; it’s not only more pleasing to look at, but the shiny surface makes cooking more efficient.

• Wash burner controls and other knobs with warm water and detergent. Some knobs have markings that can come off, so take care not to soak or scrub them too much.

• Clean gas burners and grates thoroughly.

• Use commercial oven cleaners very cautiously because they are highly toxic. Follow instructions carefully. As an alternative, fill a glass bowl with half a cup of ammonia and let it stand in the oven overnight. Wipe the walls clean with paper towels or newspapers.

 

Featured Resource: Find a Local Appliance Repair Pro

Call for free estimates from local appliance pros now:
1-866-342-3263

Ranges & Ovens

Cooktop & Range Care

Keeping a gas range clean is the most important step toward reliable performance.Tab62 / Shutterstock.com

Keeping a gas range clean is the most important step toward reliable performance.

The key to keeping a kitchen range operating properly is to clean it regularly. Beyond that basic maintenance, only a couple of repair jobs are within the skills of most homeowners because most repairs require a thorough understanding of the appliance.

With the help of an owner’s manual, you can replace door gaskets, adjust the feet beneath a range to correct for uneven cooking, and relight a pilot. Of course, you can also reposition racks if foods are cooking unevenly, and you can check cords, circuit breakers, and fuses.

If your range or oven has an electric element that you know is faulty, replacing it is usually fairly easy. Just remove the element as shown in the illustrations below, take it to an appliance parts store to get an exact replacement, and install the new part. Don’t forget to reconnect the power when you’re finished.

Before doing any work on the stovetop, always unplug the range or turn off the power at the main electrical panel. Do not hesitate to call a professional appliance repair person if you have any doubts about your knowledge or abilities to repair an electric range.

Lift off control knobs for thorough cleaning.Tab62 / Shutterstock.com

Lift off control knobs for thorough cleaning.

Here are a few tips for cleaning your range:

• Clean up spills soon after they occur. Some acidic foods, such as tomato products, can damage the surface of the cooktop or interior of the oven.

• Loosen cooked-on gunk with water or baking soda and water; do not use abrasive materials, which can scratch surfaces.

• Keep the reflector bowls of gas burners clean; it’s not only more pleasing to look at, but the shiny surface makes cooking more efficient.

• Wash burner controls and other knobs with warm water and detergent. Some knobs have markings that can come off, so take care not to soak or scrub them too much.

• Clean gas burners and grates thoroughly.

• Use commercial oven cleaners very cautiously because they are highly toxic. Follow instructions carefully. As an alternative, fill a glass bowl with half a cup of ammonia and let it stand in the oven overnight. Wipe the walls clean with paper towels or newspapers.

 

Featured Resource: Find a Local Appliance Repair Pro

Call for free estimates from local appliance pros now:
1-866-342-3263

Ranges & Ovens

Gas Cooktop Burner Repairs

Gas burners my hiss or sputter or cease to work at all. Here is some helpful information on how to repair and maintain gas burners.

gas burner flame problem

Healthy gas burner flame is blue.

Burner Hisses or Sputters

If your gas burner is hissing, sputtering, or burning a yellow flame, it is not operating efficiently. The problem is caused by too much or too little air being supplied to the flame. Here is how to make an adjustment:

Wait to perform your repair until the stovetop surface is cool. Make sure all controls are turned off. Take the grates off the surface of the stove, and then lift up the cooktop. Use the metal rod found inside to prop the cooktop open.[GARD align=”left”]

Locate the faulty burner’s air shutter. This is often near the front of the appliance. Unscrew the shutter’s setscrew, until it is loose but not off. Turn the burner on high. If a noisy flame is your problem, slightly close the shutter until the flame burns quietly. If a yellow flame is your issue, open the shutter until the flame burns blue. Retighten the shutter’s setscrew, close up the cooktop, and replace the grates.

Gas Burner Does Not Work

gas burner doesnt work

When you lift the cover off of this gas burner, you can see the gas ports and the electronic ignition spark (don’t touch the spark!).

Most problems with gas ranges have to do with the flame—either it isn’t quite right or it’s nonexistent. Many new gas ranges have “electronic ignition,” a spark igniter that starts the flame as gas flows through the burners.

If, when you turn on one burner, it fails to spark but you hear sparking at other burners, food or cleaners may have clogged the burner ports. Be sure the burner is cool, then remove it and wash it thoroughly. Insert a toothpick in the orifices around its perimeter to remove any debris or clogs.

If this doesn’t do the job, the igniter or the burner switch may need replacement by an appliance repair person.

If none of the burners work, be sure the pilot light is lit if your cooktop has one.

Be aware that gas cooktops rely on electrical power for their ignition systems. Be sure the unit is plugged into its receptacle. You’ll typically find the receptacle behind a freestanding range or at the back of the cabinet below a built-in cooktop.[GARD align=”right”]

Also make sure that the circuit breaker serving the appliance is in the “On” position or that its fuse has not blown. Check both the main electrical panel and any secondary subpanels that supply power to the appliance. If necessary, reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse. If the circuit blows again, there is probably a short in the electrical system. Call an electrician.

 

Featured Resource: Find a Local Appliance Repair Pro

Call for free estimates from local appliance pros now:
1-866-342-3263

Ranges & Ovens

Electric Cooktop Repairs

When an electric cooktop element (“burner”) doesn’t work, either it isn’t receiving electric power or it’s likely that the element or receptacle it plugs into is faulty.

The best way to deal with a faulty electric element on a stove is to replace it. THPStock / Shutterstock.com

The best way to deal with a faulty electric element on a stove is to replace it.

Check the other elements. If none work, the circuit breaker has probably tripped. Reset it at the electrical panel. If the problem recurs, call an appliance repair person.

If just one element isn’t working, try to pinpoint the source of the problem, which will likely be a bad element/burner or a problem with its connection receptacle. In some cases it’s the switch or the wiring. To replace a bad switch, repair the wiring, or replace the receptacle, call an appliance repair person.

Flip-up this type of electric element to access the terminal block.

An element that plugs into a receptacle is easy to test. After turning off the range’s power at the main electrical panel, just unplug the non-heating burner, plug it into another working receptacle, restore the power to the range, and test it. If the element works, you know its original receptacle is probably faulty. If it doesn’t work in the good receptacle, the burner is bad and must be replaced. Buy a replacement, and simply plug it into the receptacle.

When you remove the element, look for burned wires or a charred receptacle. Check the receptacle or terminal block to see if it’s cracked, loose, or looks burned. If you notice any of these signs, replace the faulty component, too. If the male burner prongs are corroded, also change the female receptacle it was plugged into.[GARD align=”right”]

A flip-up element requires a little more work. After turning off the power, tilt up the burner, unscrew the small screw that holds it, and then slide it out. Disassemble the insulator block by prying off the clips. Then unscrew the wires from the element, replace with a new burner, and reassemble.

To test an element with a multi-meter, first remove the burner from its receptacle, as discussed above. Set the multi-meter to the Rx100 setting (or, for a digital meter, to [] or k[]). With the red lead connected to the positive jack and the black lead to the negative jack, touch the black probe on one of the heating element’s terminals and touch the red probe to the other terminal. The needle should jump from the infinity reading to the right, indicating a properly “closed” circuit. If it doesn’t, try the probes on a different part of the metal contacts. If there is still no reading, touch the two leads together to make sure the meter is working (the needle should jump). If it works, there is an internal break in the element and the element will need to be replaced. When you’re finished, turn the power back on, and test the burner again. If it still doesn’t work, call a repair person.

Featured Resource: Find a Local Appliance Repair Pro

Call for free estimates from local appliance pros now:
1-866-342-3263

Ranges & Ovens

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