Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Replacing the Kitchen Microwave

The Kitchen Microwave has been there for 30 years.

But the turntable is no longer working.  The turntable has 3 wheels and one of them has stopped turning, so it has been ground flat on one side and the friction is now so large that the turntable does not turn at all.

So it's time to get a new one.  It's not easy to find one.  Consumer Reports does not evaluate microwaves, but just gives general properties to look for.  The control panel for the Magic Chef is very simple; control panels now seem to be much more complicated with lots of buttons for specific purposes (Specific buttons for popcorn, potatoes, pizza, ...)  All we want is to be able to punch in a time and start it up.

And opening the microwave door seems to be mostly pushing a big button to pop the door out, rather than pulling on it.  It seems pushing the big button would be difficult for older people, so we would prefer a big handle to pull.

The other problem is that we have a "built-in" microwave.  Most microwaves now seem to be for over a range, or for a counter top.  But some counter-top models come with a "trim kit" that makes it look like it is built-in.  Mainly the trim kit needs to make sure there is enough air flow in and out of the microwave.

Eventually  we settled on a Kenmore Elite Model 75223 2.2 Cubic Foot 1200 Watts Stainless Steel Microwave.  Model 405.75223310.  They have a trim kit for this, Model 22273 Trim Kit, 27 inch, Stainless Steel.

The first step is to remove the existing microwave.  That leaves a big hole for the new one.

The main problem we have is that the previous microwave was about 1.2 cubic foot; the new one is 2.2 cubic foot.  The previous microwave was probably a 24 inch model; the new one is a 27 inch model.  So we have to make the hole bigger, especially bigger vertically.  Rather than make the entire hole bigger, we just cut a couple of notches in the top to accommodate the trim kit. We also took the cabinet doors off the cupboard above the microwave, so we could work.

The trim kit first puts a pan down that the microwave sits on.

Then the microwave slides in.  It plugs into the outlet in the back of the hole.

The trim then goes over this.

And we put the doors back on the cupboard above it.  The doors had to be moved up about an inch.

Update.  On 23 March 2017, the microwave stopped making microwaves.  Everything still works, but it does not heat.  15 months after the start of the 12 month warranty.  Since it only cost $150, plus about $100 for the mounting kit, it does not seem to make sense to try to repair it, so what do we replace it with?

Consumer Reports has actually rated Microwave ovens, in their 2017 Buyer's Guide, and this exact model is rated their #2 choice.  So let's assume it was an item defect and not all such model microwaves.  Unfortunately that model is no longer available, but there is a  successor, the model 79393.  It's $250 as is.  Plus this time, we will pay for the extended warranty, so that it won't break.  An extra $50 to make it last for 3 years.

But of course, the new model is a slightly different size.  It still fits in the opening just fine, but the mounting kit won't work.  Instead of 24 x 12.5, the new model is 24.5 x 13. 

Sealing the Border Between the Jungle and the West Lawn Bottoms

As we have excavated the West Lawn Bottoms, the trench that will be the Bottoms is defined by the Retention Wall on the one side and the Jungle on the other side.  The Jungle has a limestone block border that defines the one side.  We have excavated right up to, and under that border.  Digging gets most of it clear from the border down to bedrock.

A little jack hammer work gets out the stubborn stones to clear it straight down from the edging to bedrock.

We can then form this up and fill the area under the stone edging with cement, to keep the plants from the Jungle in the Jungle, and to support the edging.

After removing the forms, we have a section of the wall support.

This work was done in August.  In December, we had the opportunity to continue this further.

First, we have to clear out the dirt and rock.

Then we form it up.

Pour the concrete, wait a day for it to dry, pull the forms off and move the forms down to do the next section.

And do it again for the last section in what has been excavated so far.

The result may not be pretty, but it should be functional -- supporting the stone border around the Jungle, and sealing the Jungle off so that the plants in the Jungle do not grow out into the yard.  

 (We have had problems with the Nandina in the Jungle growing into the yard; this should stop that.) We want to continue this all the way around the Jungle, as we continue the excavation in the yard.

In March, we continued to dig around the Jungle.

Getting the rock out of the way, exposes a bunch of roots coming under the border between the Jungle and the lawn.

And a couple days of cleaning this out gives us another section of the border that we can pour concrete under.

We form this up, and pour the concrete.

We need to do this in two steps.  The first step creates the bottom half of the wall.  Then we move the forms up and pour the top part, right up to the bottom of the border rock.  The result is a bit rough, so we plaster the outside with mortar mix, to create a smooth plastered wall.