Should You Recycle or Simply Get Rid of Your Old Water Heater?
contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes
For most families, water heater disposal is only something to think about once or twice a lifetime. Maybe you’re upgrading. Maybe the heater you have isn’t energy efficient. Either way, water heaters are big, bulky and hard to dispose of. However, if you understand your options, you’ll find there are several simple, (even profitable), ways to dispose of your water heater.
In every case, you should first check your state laws to make sure you’re planning to dispose of your unit safely. Some states charge a fee and dispose of all water heaters themselves.
Secondly, many plumbers offer free water heater removal if they installed your unit. They will haul it away and get it recycled; or repair it for resale.
However, if you installed your own water heater or it came with your home, you’ll have to consider other options.
You’ve likely seen these words all over Craigslist and maybe your local newspaper. When you just want the thing out of your house, there are many quick, easy options.
- Give it to charity – Most charities will come pick up a working water heater. If it isn’t working, they might want it for scrap; they might not.
- Keep an eye out for recycling events in your area that offer free pickup of junk for recycling as well.
- Take it to a landfill/junkyard. – Drop it off yourself and pay a fee.
- Call a garbage service. – Enjoy curbside pick-up. Pay a fee. The service will also make money off your unit by recycling it. The service might also ask you to drain the tank before pickup.
- Call a junk remover – Get rid of your water heater and other junk at the same time. Junk removers also donate or recycle as much as they can.
Soften the Blow
If you’re planning to buy a new water heater, you know you’re in for a pretty steep bill. Why not make money when you dispose of your old water heater by recycling the unit? You’ll make the most money if you dismantle the unit and recycle the individual pieces yourself. Here you have options as well.
- Take it to your local recycler – Drop it off yourself. The recycling center will typically pay you a nominal fee. They will dismantle the unit and sell the scrap metal to other vendors. What can’t be scrapped, they’ll try to recycle or reuse. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a recycler who will pick up. However, this is rare.
- Dismantle it and recycle it yourself. – Do a magnet test on your unit to see how much valuable metal it contains. If the magnet sticks, your unit likely has more iron. If it doesn’t, your unit features valuable metals copper or brass.
Dismantling your own water heater can get involved. However, the financial rewards are great. Recyclers pay big money for copper these days. Experts predict the market will only continue to grow.
In addition to copper, most tanks also contain brass and steel. The regulators in gas units make them more valuable than electric units. Working regulators command significant scrap value. Corroded brass fittings and heavy gauge copper wiring is also valuable.