My over the range microwave doesn't suck

regfmanJune 5, 2010

I have installed an over the range microwave oven and it doesn't pull anywhere near as much steam as my previous low powered range hood that didn't have a microwave. The microwave is supposed to be moving 400 CFM at top speed.

It does a very poor job of pulling the steam off of boiling pots, especially from pots that are on the two front burners. It works so poorly that I am concerned that I will damage the finish of my new cabinets nearby.

The microwave exhaust is routed to come out the top and go into ducting that goes about 6 ft to exit out the side of the house. The kitchen is on the second floor of the townhouse so the outside vent is too high for me to get my hand next to without a tall ladder but I can see that a lot of air is coming out that vent because the vines nearby are fluttering vigorously. That is to say that the fan is working.

But I feel very little suction going into the two grease filter openings under the microwave. And I see very little air movement, certainly nothing significant enough to remove the steam. And this is at the fastest setting which is incredibly loud. I have waved incense around looking for some explanation for why so much air seems to be exiting the vent as compared to air entering the bottom surface of the microwave. To no avail.

So my question is: Do these over the counter microwave ovens work as range hoods? by the way I have a Samsung

SMH9187ST. I would try something else if I heard the venting design worked better.

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I'll be following the responses, too. Our OTR MW seems fine so far (I'd never had one before) but on GW, everyone seems to think they're awful. In our old kitchen, I didn't even have a vent at I'm pleased to just have any venting! My GC said he thought it would be fine. Ours is a GE Profile convection microwave.
So--what do others think? I have heard my friends say they can't stand their hoods because it sounds like a jet's going off, even when on low speed.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 7:58PM
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Oh My,

totally misunderstood your post. I thought you meant that
the OTR MW is not so bad.

I have to laugh at my stupidity. I quickly opened the post
thinking maybe she found the holy grail of OTR MW.
An OTR MW that is not so bad that works and is functional.
A OTR that does the job. But I realize I am a fool and
you meant suck literally not like my teenage son would say.

I detest my OTR MW. I wish I had spent the money on a hood.
I will change it, I just have to do it slowly or DH will
have a fit. He is a bit stubborn about me spending money
on something he does not think we need.

The sound of the fan? I would rather have a little noise
and garlic smells, grease splatter and sticky oil spots
off my range. Sucked away to the outside rather than
a mess on my stove. Sound vs Gross. I'll take the Sound.

Thanks for your post and I am sorry you are disappointed.
I do know how you feel.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 8:09PM
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I just went appliance shopping today. There is one Kitchen Aid model that has a couple of curves to it -- it curves out over the oven and there is a curved uptake area for the steam under the microwave itself. According to the salesperson, it makes the vent quite a bit more efficient. It was 900 dollars, so probably out of my budget, but did include a convection oven as well.

I can't seem to get a link to work, but try googling "KitchenAid TruCapture Ventilation"

Hope this helps someone!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 8:42PM
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A neighbor of mine has the KA. It's just like any other, alas (and that's an outrageous price you found-you can find it much cheaper than that).

>Do these over the counter microwave ovens work as range hoods?

No, they have lights beneath them, and sometimes a rack for hanging utensils. The lack of a fan is one of the things that distinguishes an OTC micro from an OTR.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 9:40PM
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Oh no! Yikes! And I was going to get that same Samsung. And spend mucho dinero to have the venting out the back rather than up thru the cabs, where the current vent is.

I need to rethink. I have never used our current 50 yr. old vent. It's stuffed with plastic bags to keep the cold/heat out! I rarely fry.

Does the mw oven work well? I micro a lot. Reheat coffee all day long. steam veggies(no pots)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 9:57PM
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@writersblock -- anything I get will probably vent better than my circa-1987 downdraft! I have no personal experience with the KA microwave, but the concave bottom side did look to me like it would collect steam, so I thought I'd pass the info on. Obviously, serious shoppers will have to check them out more carefully than my quick glance.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 11:45PM
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I forgot to say, I have a Bosch OTR MW.
It is better than the GE I had before but a hood would
be even better.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 6:25AM
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westsider40, I have not used it to do much microwaving yet but it seems to work fine on the small heating chores I've selected.

I will at least look at the kitchen aid to see if it seems to be in some way different.

At this point I think I will be taking out the samsung and returning it.

I need to figure it out soon because the 30 day return policy is in effect.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 12:35PM
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Thanks Regfman, I was choosing the Samsung for the 400 cfm but if it doesn't work????? I appreciate all this input.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 9:14PM
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When you installed this mw, did you vent out the back or out the top? Did you reset the damper for the correct orientation?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:19AM
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Dear Weed,

Please help me understand what difference venting out the back or the top matters. Set aside for the moment the issue of resetting the damper, but the question you asked was whether regfman vented out the back or out the top.

Samsung's website says that one has three options for venting. It does not say that the 400 cfm is affected or compromised if one chooses venting out the back, or the top, or recirculating- the three Samsung stated options. I look forward to your response to my specific question. Thanks. As I said, I was planning to get the Samsung because of what sounded like decent venting. Specific, please.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:56AM
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I vented out the top, which is the default, and correct for the duct that I have over it. I know it is blowing air out through the top because I can see air fluttering plants next to the outside wall vent.

As for the damper, when I first turned it on and found it wasn't pulling air up from the bottom (didn't look outside to see the plants moving) I opened up the funnel duct to take a peek at the damper thinking it must be blocked and sure enough it was stuck closed by lack of clearance to the rectangle duct. I yanked on it and being made of very thin gauge aluminum it bent, so I just yanked harder and pulled it out completely. So there is no damper in the airway.

Today I experimented with some cardboard to see if I could make a visor that would catch the steam that was not going up into the bottom of the microwave and I had some success with a design. I am contemplating having a custom sheet metal part made that I could attach to the microwave. That's one approach.

The other is to spend a couple hours removing it and returning it and then buy something else that might work better (and hopefully be much less noisey), this time paying for installation and if that new one isn't any better having the installer take it out on the same trip..... and then going back to a dedicated range hood and getting a very small microwave for the small heating jobs we use it for. The dedicated range hood is not our first choice as we've come to like the extra space on the counter that has been free'd up by using a hanging microwave.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:59AM
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I asked the question to get to the damper answer. That is, if the vent was to the rear, the default is to the top. And if the damper was not moved as well as the fan shroud, it would not exhaust at all. Secondly was if to the top and the damper was not free-moving, it would not exhaust.

When my mom had her's installed, it was out the top but the fan shroud was in the wrong position and it did nothing. She did not see the installer do the work so she did not know the answer, but removing and reinstalling fixed the problem. So I asked the question in order to get to an answer.

But OTR mw's don't do that well anyway. Capture is poor.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 1:37AM
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O.K. I'll agree that OTR Mw/fan combos do not work as well as separate MW and range hoods. However, due to space and configuration sometime that is the only choice.
8 yrs. ago I had to replace my ancient (1983) all in one GE combo range, microwave/hood. I purchased a smoothtop slide in GE Profile range and the Profile SpacemakerXL 1800 OTC MW/fan. It has 3 speeds plus a power boost.
I do much stove top grilling and oven broiling and have had no problem and the microwave works perfectly.
I think what Weed states about venting etc. is correct.
Properly installed and vented an OTCMW will give more than satisfactory service, compared to the alternative- the unvented, replaceable filter, OTC MW.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 9:36AM
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This morning I did an online chat with Kitchen Aid and learned that there are three models with the "KitchenAid TruCapture Ventilation".

This evening I went into the big box store where I bought the Samsung and told them I intend to return it and bought the least expensive of the three KitchenAids. It is 2.5x more expensive than the Samsung. Plus this time I paid an additional $160 for installation.

The installers will remove the Samsung and put it back in the box so that I can drive it back to the store. Then they will install the KitchenAid. Before they leave I will test the KitchenAid to see if it does satisfactory exhausting and if it is not much better then the Samsung I'll have them uninstall it and return it.

I'm hoping.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 12:27AM
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It is possible that air is moving because there is a gap in the ducting. However, the areal flow rate at the exhaust will naturally be larger than at the intake (hood aperture) because the latter is larger.

Also, hoods do not suck up effluent and steam from the pots below unless they are very close to the pots. Hoods function correctly (capture and containment) when they are (a) large enough to encompass the rising and expanding effluent at the height that they are mounted at, and (b) have enough air flow to keep the effluent in the hood until it is sucked into the ducting.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 9:06PM
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