Appliances are common to almost everyone’s home and business. You may have a washer, dryer, stove, dishwasher, furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator, water heater or microwave that’s ready to be booted out the door. These have thin steel cases on the outside and more steel or moving parts on the inside.
Even though your steel-cased appliances may have copper, plastic, and aluminum parts inside, they are acceptable “as is” at your local recycler, who can ship them off to a company that will feed them into a shredder. The shredder pulverizes the appliances into fist-sized pieces then sends them through a series of sorting devices to isolate the steel from everything else.
This is much more efficient than disassembling appliances by hand, enabling the recycler to pay you well and diminishing the extra payback you could get by dismantling the appliance yourself.
Even the Microwave?
One exception is the microwave – it has a unit inside called a magnetron, which generates the microwaves that cook the food. It has a slight radioactivity and has to be removed by the recycler before going to the shredder. As a result of the extra labor involved in processing such a small appliance, the recycler usually will not pay you for the microwave.
Fridges, Freezers and AC Units
For those of you who wish to strip down refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning units, keep this in mind: they contain refrigerant, and it is against the law to allow refrigerant to escape into the atmosphere. Unless you are going to pay a licensed technician to recapture and recycle the refrigerant, you should leave the compressor and line intact. The recycling company will pay you for the appliance and properly drain the refrigerant afterward.
Another important point – empty your refrigerator and freezer before recycling it. Nobody wants to process something with stinking, rotting food inside and you will end up taking it back home. Also, drain the water out of your water heater to avoid a similar problem. The recycler is paying for the weight of the appliance, not the water.
Most recyclers will pay between $5 and $10 per large appliance, which weigh somewhere around 150 to 200 pounds each. Obviously the microwave is not in this category, being very light in weight, and will bring several cents per pound if the magnetron has been removed.
In summary, if your basement or back porch is cluttered with a retired appliance or two, there is a way to get them out of your way and pocket a little money from your efforts.