I like to cook. So, one small home improvement that has improved my life a lot has been venting the over-the-range microwave fan through the exterior wall. The tools and parts were pretty cheap. (I already had an stud finder, and the microwave exhaust duct was not expensive.) Plus, this project was fairly simple, and and it has really cut down on the smoke and odor in the kitchen and in the whole house.
Steps for this Project
For some reason, the builder didn't bother to provide this simple upgrade. So, I took these steps to do it myself:
- 1Unplugged the microwave from the electrical outlet hidden in the cabinet directly above the microwave
- 2Dismounted the microwave from the mounting bracket
- 3Removed the mounting plate that was screwed into the studs
- 4Used a stud finder / electric wire detector / pipe detector to make sure I didn't cut into anything inside the wall
- 5Cut a hole through the wall (using the ventilation holes in the mounting plate as a guide)
- 6Replaced the mounting plate
- 7Switched the direction of the microwave's fan to blow out the back
- 8Attached a ventilation swing door to the back of the microwave before the duct vent, so cold air won't blow in from the outside
- 9Remounted microwave
- 10Attached a microwave exhaust duct through the outside wall to the microwave
- 11Caulked around the ventilation duct
- 12Pluged the microwave back into the cabinet electrical outlet
Photos - Venting Microwave through Exterior Wall
This series of photos shows many of the key steps I took to vent my microwave through the exterior wall. There's even an outside photo showing my original "builder's special" yard, before I re-did it with a professional landscape plan, wholesale nursery plants, and a lot of elbow grease. (You can see the video about re-doing the yard here.)
By the way, as you can see from these first two photos, I originally cut through the smaller areas unnecessarily.
Do you want to vent your microwave to the outside straight through the kitchen exterior wall? Here are couple of key points I think could help you out.
Use a Modern, Electronic Stud Finder
I used a special stud/electric wire detector to make sure I was not going to cut though an electrical wire or anything else hidden in the wall. This tool is pretty inexpensive, it can help keep you safe, and you'll use it for lots of projects over the years. As of this update (January 23, 2019), it looks like one of the best scanners that checks for wooden and metal studs and AC wires is this one.
Use a very long bit to drill corners
I used a long 3/8" bit I had from another project to drill holes all the way through the interior and exterior walls in the corners of the rectangle I was going to cut out of the wall. Then I used a keyhole saw to saw through the drywall first, and then I went outside to cut through the hardy plank exterior.
Glove Up & Use a Mask
There was, of course, fiberglass insulation in the wall, so I used gloves (and should have used a mask, like a 3M mask) to remove it from the hole area.
Wall Cap for Microwave Range Exhaust Ventilation Duct
In the comments below and in person, people have asked me what part or duct piece I used to actually vent the microwave through the exterior wall to the outside. It was a single part that was similar to this one.
Use the Buddy System
I ended up lifting the microwave myself, but it would have been much easier to do this project with two people.
Pros and Cons of This Project
Pros: Now, I can cook fish or bacon in the kitchen (instead of outside on the grill) without smelling up the whole house. (Also, for better or worse, arriving guests can now smell what's for dinner.)
Cons: I should have done this about 5 minutes after I moved in.
Tools I used -- or should have used for this project include:
One of these vent photos shows my original yard. Want to see how I transformed it and got professional landscaping results for a budget price? To see the before and after video, you should click here.
(BTW, while your there, be sure to grab the FREE BONUS list:
My Top 5 Landscaping Mistakes. No. 3 could have killed me!)
If You Do this Project...
If you do this project, please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes. Also, if you have a question, you can leave it in the comment section also, and I'll get notified as soon as you submit it. Thanks again for "tuning in", and please remember to hit the subscribe button below so you don't miss any of our cool upcoming stuff.
Avoid Code Violations!
A reader below raised the question of whether I did this duct work upgrade "to code". I did, but he makes a great point! And along with duct work code, the electrical code is key. It saves lives. To see the recent post on common electrical code violations as well a link to electrical accident resources, you should click here.