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Building Codes and Inspections/distance between range and over the range microwave


I bought a new electric range with ceramic top and an over the range microwave.  The range was installed separately before the microwave.  I was not in the room when the micro was installed.  I had ordered each of them on-line.  When the installation was finished, I checked it out and was a bit shocked - the distance between the bottom of the micro and the top of the range is a little over 12 inches.  I asked the installers if this was ok and they said that they've done that before.
My whole purpose was for an upgrade prior to getting ready to sell.  No cook will want to use the range - there's not much room.  I want to return the microwave and not have to pay for the install.  Apparently, in my county there is no code that specifies the distance required and my Whirlpool manual says nothing in that regard.  I see it as a burn hazard.  Do you think I have a chance to return the micro and do you have any pointers in my request to the store?  Thank you.

Contact your Municipal Building Official to see what code is law in your municipality, and to see if they have any local amendments that might pertain to your situation.  From the 2009 ICC International Residential Code, which may or may not be the law in your location:


M1504.1 Installation of a microwave oven over a cooking appliance. The installation of a listed and labeled cooking appliance or microwave oven over a listed and labeled cooking appliance shall conform to the terms of the upper appliance's listing and label and the manufacturer's installation instructions. The microwave oven shall conform to UL 923.  

Hope it helps!  

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Keith Fuller


I'm an ICC Certified Master Code Professional fielding general building code questions. My experience has been heavy in fire related issues.


I've been employed since 1985 as an inspector and plan reviewer, and am a municipal Assistant Building Official and Deputy fire Marshal. I've had fire service experience since 1972, having served as a three time Fire Chief and Fire Marshal in years past. The increasing workload, mandatory certifications, and continuing education requirements in recent years have caused me to concentrate my efforts on code related issues. I hold national fire service certifications as well.

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