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Microwave Maintenance 101

Like any appliance, your over-the-range microwave needs regular care and maintenance to ensure it lasts and functions properly for as long as possible. The added ventilation system on these microwave ovens adds convenience, style and a few extra steps for maintaining your appliance. Most over-the-range microwave units come with two types of filters. Both need attention in the form of replacement or cleaning on a regular basis.

Routinely Replace
In the case of the charcoal filter, the keyword is  replace.  The charcoal filters on your over-the-range microwave oven work by absorbing pollutants, made possible by countless tiny pores on the charcoal s surface. The pore space is not infinite. Once they are full of foul substances put off by cooking on your stovetop, they are full. Most over-the-range microwave manufacturers will recommend replacing a charcoal filter every six months or so. You can go a little bit longer, but to experience peak performance, regular replacement is best. Some replacement filters are quite expensive, depending on your model, but we think buying a big pile of them will be worth the investment regardless.

Replacing the charcoal filter is only important if your over-the-range microwave hood is re-circulating air. Some configurations vent to the outdoors and so would not need to make use of the charcoal filter in the microwave, eliminating the need to replace it.

Routinely Clean
The grease filter in your appliance can and should be cleaned on a regular basis. Follow the manufacturer s recommendations about how often, but once a month is usually a safe bet. Soak the filter in hot water and detergent, avoiding products with ammonia, and then lightly scrub it to remove debris. For more specific instructions see your over-the-range microwave owner manual.

Overall Clean
The most obvious maintenance task for an over-the-range microwave oven and hood combination is keeping the microwave itself clean. Letting food particles accumulate on the inside walls could cause the unit to operate less efficiently and create unpleasant odors.

One way to maintain order is to wipe the microwave oven down after each use. This can be time consuming and labor intensive. An easier way to cut down on odors and keep things tidy is to steam clean the appliance.

Place a bowl of water with a bit of vinegar in your microwave oven and heat it. This will create steam and loosen any encrusted food so you can easily wipe it away. Some have reported success with a lemon juice and water combination. This can be especially helpful for dispersing foul odors. Repeat this process as often as you like. Take care not to use anything abrasive to wipe it down, as this can damage the inside of your microwave oven.

Keep it Light
Light bulbs for the cooktop lighting and the interior cavity will need to be replaced on a regular basis. Manufacturers make it fairly easy to perform this task with detailed instructions which can be found online if you lose the hard copy of the user manual.

With a little extra thought your over-the-range microwave oven and hood combination can last for years and function at its best. Protect your investment by learning to perform regular maintenance tasks with care.

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