November 15

Can You Put a Microwave Above the Sink?

Written by: Dolly

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Now, before we get into it, I need to make a few things clear. I am not a trained plumber, electrician, or any other professional that specializes in putting microwaves above sinks. This is not professional advice, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. If you have questions or concerns, consider chatting with a qualified plumber or electrician. 

Figuring out where everything is going to go in your kitchen is never easy. I often curse the lack of counter space in my home, as I know many others do. 

One such dilemma that often arises out of this situation is where on God’s green earth you’re supposed to put the microwave. Now that over-the-range microwaves are falling out of fashion, some are turning to the sink for their new spot. Or, more accurately, the wall above their sink. 

Can you put a microwave above the sink? The short answer is yes, but the real question is...should you put a microwave above the sink? 

We’ll answer that and more below, so buckle in and get ready to rearrange your kitchen. 

Should You?

girl-with-microwave

Although we are not professional plumbers or electricians, our general recommendation is no, you should not. Seriously, if there’s another option, don’t do it. 

As we all know, combining water and electricity is a pretty serious no-no. Think about it this way: you wouldn’t risk installing a microwave over your bathtub or bathroom sink. Or at least, I sure hope you wouldn’t. 

While it's trickier in the kitchen due to reduced space, if you can avoid putting a microwave over the sink, then you should. Why risk it if there’s another option? 


Doing it as Safely as Possible

microwave-doodle

Again, I want to reiterate that our general recommendation is to not put a microwave above your sink. Please only proceed if you have exhausted all other options. AKA your kitchen is full, with nonexistent counter space, and you can’t buy a cabinet or extra storage. 

Now, that we’ve established the “last resort-ness” of this situation, let’s discuss how to do it as safely as possible. The main goal is ensuring that water never comes anywhere near the microwave. And that includes steam!

If you have to install a microwave above your sink, try to place it as high as possible within your height limit. Again, the farther away from the sink, the better. Generally, three feet above is a good start, but that may not be feasible for shorter folks. If three feet seems excessive, remember that experts recommend countertop microwaves be 4-9 feet away from a water source.

Since microwaves can explode due to built-up steam, invest in one that automatically shuts off and has moisture sensors. See what I mean about microwaves and water not getting along? 

So, please don’t install a faulty countertop microwave above your sink. Ditch that one and invest in a safer model. Microwaves also have ventilation needs, so you’ll want to plan around that and research the model extensively. A countertop microwave above a sink in particular will need decent airflow to prevent overheating or explosions. 

Although it’s not required in every state – research yours first or consult an electrician before installing – consider investing in GFCI protection if you’re going to put your microwave on a shelf above the sink. The GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) will keep track of the power flowing into any plugged-in devices. So, if the microwave gets exposed to water, the GFCI would automatically shut it off and potentially save you from electrocution.


Are there Microwaves Designed for Over-the-Sink Applications?

Cleaning microwave exterior

Nope. Since it’s so dangerous, there aren’t many companies out there willing to risk a slew of liability lawsuits. 

However, some microwaves are designed to be built into walls and cabinets while others are meant for the countertop. These will all be labeled as such. Depending on how you intend to hang or install the microwave, you’ll have to choose between a countertop and a built-in. 


How Far Should a Countertop Microwave Be From the Sink?

microwave-in-kitchen

A countertop microwave should be four to nine feet away from the sink, including any prep zones that could come into contact with water. 

However, I recommend you check the specs of the model you’re planning on putting near the sink. For example, this countertop microwave’s instructions specifically state not to put it anywhere near water or mount it over a sink. 

If size is an issue, it could be time to downsize and purchase a smaller model. Mini microwaves are cute as heck, take up way less space, and could make your kitchen a safer place. There are even small convection microwaves


Can You Hang a Microwave Over the Sink?

Technically yes, but that doesn’t mean you should do it or that it will be easy. 

To install a hanging or over-the-range microwave, you will need relatively easy access to a nearby electrical outlet and a vent duct in the wall. Neither of these is super common in the space above a sink. However, each kitchen is different. 

I’d feel a lot safer knowing there was a sturdy shelf separating the sink and the microwave, so I’d try for a countertop one. Besides, you may have to hire an electrician to install an over-the-range microwave above the sink.


Other Places You Should Never Put a Microwave

high end microwave

When trying to figure out where your microwave should go, there are multiple factors to consider. However, if you can, you should always avoid the following spots: 

  1. On the counter next to the sink. 

The chances of it getting wet from accidental splashing or overzealous washing are way too high to be safe. 

  1. Directly on top of the oven, dishwasher, or any other kitchen appliance that gets hot. 

Microwaves are susceptible to heat and water, so avoid all sources when picking a spot. 

  1. Depending on the microwave, do not put it flush against the wall.

Ventilation systems are key to a well-functioning and safe microwave. Decreasing airflow by placing a countertop microwave flush against a wall is asking for disaster. If your microwave vents through the back wall, don’t block it. 

  1. In front of a window. 

There are several reasons not to place a microwave in front of a window. First off, you’re blocking a potential exit in case of an emergency. Plus, glass is susceptible to heat, and microwave interiors get extremely hot. A malfunctioning one could become externally hot as well and thereby heat the glass. 

  1. Corner space. 

Corner spots will only bring undue trouble. They block airflow and vents from multiple sides, which will most likely lead to disaster. 


Where is the Best Place to Put a Microwave in the Kitchen?

built-in-microwave

The best place for the microwave to go in your kitchen is really up to you. Think about how often you and the other members of your household use it. If it’s a highly trafficked spot, put it in the open where it’s more accessible. If it’s more of a once-a-day item, tuck it into a cabinet or pantry and save some space on your countertops. 

If you’re out of ideas, consider these: 

  1. Built-in microwave inside of a wall or cabinet.  

This option offers space for proper ventilation and can have a very smooth, clean look when trimmed properly. 

  1. Drawer microwaves. 

These microwaves have a cool and chic look when done right. They’re often installed below countertops, not above, like an oven! 

  1. On the counter, so long as it’s a countertop microwave. 

Just make sure it’s nowhere near that sink! If you’re lacking countertop space (relatable), consider investing in a microwave cart. These will prevent electrocution and add even more storage to your cramped kitchen! 

  1. You could even put it in a pantry!

Pantry microwaves are great because they save space and add storage. If your microwave is not your most-used kitchen appliance, a pantry would be a great place for it! 

  1. Over-the-range microwave above your stove.

A classic! This specific microwave both offers a ventilation system for your stove and keeps everything in one compact spot. 


Conclusion

microwave-in-kitchen

Although we are not professional plumbers or electricians here at Robust Kitchen, it’s fair to say that putting a microwave above a sink is dangerous. So, if you have any other options, please choose those. 

While it's possible to put a microwave over your sink, that doesn’t mean one should be there. Unnecessary danger and potential disaster? No thank you.

Dolly


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About the author

Dolly is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London and an avid cook. After managing a miniature organic farm for a year, she fell in love with the art of cooking and the taste of homegrown greens. Dolly first became plant-based eight years ago, and she is now a full-blown vegan; her plant-based journey has made her creative and experimental in the kitchen. If she’s not writing or cooking, Dolly can be found on her front porch, strumming her guitar and singing for anyone who will listen.

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