Sunday, February 28, 2010

How long do microwave ovens usually last?

Building a house has been such a huge undertaking.

I never realized in a million years what it took to try to build a house on your own.

When we went in to sign our construction loan, our banker said to me "I've got two words for you.....TURN KEY*."

*Having your builder complete every step of building your house.  He does everything and just hands you the key to the finished house.*

I just laughed at him and proudly told him "Oh no, we won't be going that route.  My husband and his family have worked on houses for years.  We know what we are doing."

Well, here it is, almost 3 years later and we STILL aren't finished with this house.

It seems like everything we've tried to do on our own has taken at least 10 times longer to complete, and at least triple the price we were expecting to pay.

For example, our $1.99/square foot Brazilian hardwood floors seemed like a good idea at the time, but after the extra materials it took to get it attached to the floors and the extra FOUR months it took to put down the stinkin' floors, we would have been better off just paying $5.99/square foot for something thicker and easier to lay. 


Don't get me wrong, we LOVE our floors.....they are beautiful and unique.....but had we known what drama it was going to be to lay them, we would have gone with Oak!

(Brazilian Walnut is one of the most dense and brittle hardwoods known to man.  Nobody told us that the only way to attach Brazilian Walnut to your floors is to either a) glue it....which is only recommended if your strips are less than 10" long OR, b) pre-drill and hand nail each strip of wood, every 6 inches.  Nail guns would not work.  They only split the wood.)

OK, well this brings me to another project that has taken us two years to complete.....

Our microwave surround.

A microwave surround seems like it should be one of the most simple projects for a homeowner to complete. 

You put the microwave in the cabinet, screw the surround to the cabinet and VIOLA....finished!

Sounds simple, right?

Well, after waiting two years, and working NINE hours yesterday, we sort-of  had our microwave surround completed.

Our problems with our microwave surround began around the time we ordered our appliances.  We ordered them from a company that promised to have them available within two weeks.  Well, when we still didn't have them three months later, I canceled the order with that particular place, and re-ordered them from Sears, who advertised them as being available "next day".

Sears did have the appliances, but did not offer the surround, so I had to look for it somewhere else.  I lucked out and found a brand new one on Ebay for a third of the cost.  I quickly ordered it, and it was delivered within the week.

Unfortunately, the "next-day" availability that Sears had promised was a bunch of bull, and we still didn't have our appliances.

To help make this long story a little shorter, I will just say after MONTHS of back-and-forth shouting matches between us and Sears (us shouting, Sears promising us a bunch of crap), we finally received our new stainless steel microwave oven SIX MONTHS after we ordered it!

We unwrapped it, plugged it up and placed it in the cabinet.  We pulled out (the now very dusty) microwave surround and tried to install it.

It didn't fit.

It wasn't that it was too big or too small for the cabinet.....the door of the microwave COULDN'T OPEN because the opening in the surround was too small!

Since it had been SIX months since I had ordered the surround, we couldn't send it back....


Another surround cost a lot of that we did not we just left it as-is....just sitting in the HUGE cabinet opening.



Fast-forward to now.  We had a little extra money, so I ordered a new surround....the CORRECT surround for our microwave.

A week later, the new surround arrived....we were so excited!

Yesterday, the plans we had fell through, so we decided (or rather, I decided for us) to install the surround.

We pulled everything out of the box.....waaaaay more pieces than we thought it should have....and started trying to figure it out.

We first figured out that the "vent" that was supposed to come out of back did not fit our particular microwave.  The pictures on the instructions didn't even match a little bit.

We checked and double-checked the model numbers, and everything matched perfectly....well everything but the pieces and the instructions.

Well, after fiddling with that for a while, we finally decided just to not install the vent.  There is tons of room behind the microwave to properly vent it, so we felt there was no need.

OK, then we moved onto the base.  To make the surround work correctly, the microwave has to be elevated on a 5" tall base plate.  The base plate secures the microwave to the cabinet, and it also has places for the surround to attach to.

We attempted to attach the base, but then realized the holes in the microwave feet were not we had to thread the holes to get the screws bolted in.

We get everything attached, and attempted to set the newly-elevated microwave into the cabinet....

It wouldn't fit!

The microwave was now about an inch too tall!


We took the microwave back out and set it back down.
We then tried to dry-fit the surround into the cabinet opening (without the microwave)....

It wouldn't fit!

We went over all of the measurements, and realized the cabinet maker had made our opening FIVE INCHES TOO SMALL!

We measured and re-measured.  

To get the surround to fit correctly, we would have to cut FIVE INCHES out of the cabinet.....which meant that we would have to remove the top cabinet doors and cut into the shelf.

And even if we did all of this and were able to make it actually work, the placement looked HORRIBLE!

We were ILL, to say the least!

I was so frustrated at this point, I told Marty to just pack everything back up and send it back.

I had lived with the microwave as-is for this long,  I would just deal with it.

I got mad and just left the kitchen.

Thankfully, Marty was determined to get it to work.

After I cooled off, I went back into the kitchen and started messing around with the surround.

The only reason it wouldn't fit in the opening was two little plastic pieces on the inside.

What would happen if we just cut those pieces off?

Marty cut them off, and the surround fit in the opening perfectly....however, it wasn't anywhere near the microwave.

As long as the microwave was on the stand, it wouldn't even fit in the cabinet, but if the stand was removed, the microwave was too low for the surround to work.

What could we do?

I came up with the idea to pull out the original surround and see if there was anything we could use in there....


The stand with that particular kit was only about 1 1/2" tall, instead of 5".  We put the stand in the opening, set the microwave on top, put the surround around it....


We were jumping for joy.....

Then we realized we had no way to attach the surround to the stand or the cabinet.


Over the next few hours, we thought and planned and tested.....we repositioned that darn surround about 5000 times.....and eventually we had a plan to attach the surround without hurting the cabinets.

Our first attempt using Super Glue didn't work, so I convinced hubby to use hot worked, much to hubby's amazement!

I won't go into the hundreds of details how we attached it (shocking I, but we came up with a plan that we hope will be secure.

When we went to bed last night, the surround looked like this.....


The tape is there to protect the stainless from scratches while hubby attempted to put screws through the holes in the vents.  The last two screws we had were too short, so we had to make a trip to Home Depot today to get longer screws.

Hubby tried to finish attaching the last two screws....he got one in, but he wasn't able to get the last one to perform like we had hoped, so we did what any "crafty" person would do....

We hot glued it!

Here is our completed microwave surround....


Isn't she pretty?

After NINE hours yesterday, and thirty minutes today, we finally have our surround!

Here are the tools we tried to use/used to get the surround to look like this:

Cordless Drill
Dremmel tool
Drill Bits
Screwdriver Bits
Grinding Bit
Circular saw
Allen Wrench
Super Glue
Hot Glue
Hair Dryer
Cut-up Plastic Bucket
Nuts and Washers
Broken CD
Double-sided foam tape
Step stool
Oh, and most importantly....assorted parts from TWO different surround kits!  These are all the parts we had left when we finished....


These are the injuries sustained while attempting to put in the surround....

Broken Toe
Scraped and bleeding knuckle
Bleeding finger
Pulled chest muscle
Knot on head
Metal splinter in finger
Burnt fingers from Hot Glue
2 Migraines from missing lunch

With all of this drama and bloodshed, this darn microwave BETTER last at least the next TWENTY YEARS!

If it doesn't, it's going to be the prettiest, shiniest, stainless steel storage cabinet ever made!


Stay tuned for our next planned do-it-yourself project...

Building a composite-material deck!

But we are going to wait for our injuries to heal first.


  1. Oh my gosh Robin, all that work that microwave put you through...It looks beautiful now! Im crossing my fingers it doesn't break down any time within the next decade or two! LOL! :)

  2. God Love you guys!! It looks great, and I have to say I LOVE that farmhouse sink, jealousssss. Have a great week, Sue

  3. wow.. i'm exhausted just from reading what you guys went through!! :P at least the outcome is worth it..right? LOL... looks fantastic!!

  4. Good Grief. Although I would recommend doing the whole lock and key thing, sometimes I wonder if our builder even knew what those words meant. We're still having to go back and do what he either didn't do period, or didn't do right.

  5. SO~~FUNNY~~~ Not at the time I know, I know, cos' I have been there!!! It is maddening!! I just usually have me a throw down cuss fit and if I happen to have a sledge hammer near by ~ watch out!! Steve is MUCH calmer and laid back than I am!

    BUT, it looks MARVELOUS!!! I love the list of injuries! You had me laughing out loud on this one!!

    Enjoy!! Make some popcorn!

    Lou Cinda :)

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