Microwave receptacle

I usually find the microwave plug coming through a hole in the cabinets and plugged into a receptacle in the cabinet above. I thought it was required. I just finished an inspection and no plug was found. It was obviously installed behind the microwave.

Does a receptacle for a built in microwave (non-vent hood type) have to be accessible?

Thanks in advance!


What you describe sounds odd. There is literally no room behind one of those things for a receptacle. And the cord MUST come out the top.


It’s always great to know all the answers, but I try to make my inspection life easy.

If I find something in a home that is questionable or appears unsafe, defective, odd or out of place in any way, I simply note it in the report. I don’t burden myself with code compliances. That way you can finish the report without a lot of research.

There’s a home inspector in my area that finds these “missing” microwave cords pretty regularly. I get to remediate some of them. What I normally find is that the microwave/hood replaced a regular exhaust hood at some point in time. The installers would either cut the plug off the microwave and wire nut it to the old hood romex cable, or they’d put a cord cap on the end of the romex cable, plug the microwave into that, and stuff the whole works back in a large hole in the drywall behind the microwave. There’s often about a 1/2" recess in the cabinet bottom above; just enough to get the cord to lay flat and go into the hole in the drywall. I suspect very much that this is what you’re dealing with there. A non-compliant, handyman type micro-hood installation.

The microwave is mounted inside a cabinet that houses the microwave and a built-in oven below it. There is cabinet space above and below the two units. Five feet away is the cooktop and vent hood. It is new construction.

Without actually pulling the microwave out, I am not sure you know if you have a violation. As far as I know the plug of a cord and plug connected appliance only has to be “accessible”, it doesn’t need to “readily accessible”

Anyone know what code covers this…IRC…NEC?

Our Canadian Electrical Code has this as a requirement with only the single microwave outlet allowed on the circuit. Seems reasonable.

The 2002 NEC states…

422.16 Flexible Cords (A) General. Flexible cord shall be permitted (1) for the connection of appliances to facilitate their frequent interchange or to prevent the transmission of noise or vibration or (2) to facilitate the removal or disconnection of appliances that are fastened in place, where the fastening means and mechanical connections are specifically designed to permit ready removal for maintenance or repair and the appliance is intended or identified for flexible cord connection.”

It should be understood that a cord-connected appliance is required to be specifically designed, mechanically and electrically, to be readily removable for maintenance and repair.

I believe it should look somewhat like this.


I like your #3 post short & sweet. That’s the way I also do it if possible.

David, 422.16 refers to when you are allowed to “cord and plug” an appliance that would normally be hardwired. It still does not address the issue of whether the cord cap itself shall remain “readily” accessible.
As long as you can unplug this as a normal part of removing the microwave I don’t see the issue. You will need to pull it out before you can work on it anyway. We have a similar situation with “built in” dishwashers where the cord and plug are behind the dishwasher. For that matter the receptacle behind the fridge is not readily accessible either.
Wasn’t that the basis for allowing the “no GFCI” exception for washing machines, garage door openers and freezers in basements and garages?

Thanks David! That’s the information I was looking for. I realize I cannot know it all but when I have a question about something I believe to be true, I like to be able to confirm or deny it. Research makes me a better inspector. Otherwise it is only CYA.

The picture in Marcel’s post #10 is what I usually see and what I believed it should be, now I’m sure.

Thanks to all the others who replied as well!

Actually not!
I misunderstood the original description. I see now that it is NOT a typical OTR micro.
In your case it very well MAY be right behind the micro and is perfectly fine. “Built-in”, as in sitting on a dedicated shelf is a TOTALLY different thing than a built-in OTR micro/hood.

I bet the installation in question is perfectly fine.

Maybe this is what you are talking about, and the receptacle is behind the unit.


Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Jerry, there are built in oven/microwave units the come as one appliance and fit into a cabinet as you described. They are hard wired. Is it possible this is what you are looking at here?

They trimmed this one out so the micro unit is not removeable

I can’t report on what I can’t see, I couldn’t tell you if it’s hardwired inside or out of a J-box or plugged into a covered or open receptacle

[FONT=Verdana]I just add to why I couldn’t inspect or comment further that electrical equipment shall be accessible without damaging the building structure or building finish, same at hydro-tubs[/FONT]

Nothing is forever Barry, and neither is that trim holding that sucker in there.
ha. ha.
Someone will eventually verify if it is plugged in. :wink:

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: