Scrapping a refrigerator is one of the more intricate scrapping tasks, but it can also be quite lucrative. Here are some tips regarding scrapping a fridge safely and legally.
Rule No. 1 – Don’t Cut the Refrigerant Lines
The main thing that makes recycling a refrigerator (or an air conditioner, for that matter) difficult is the presence of refrigerant chemicals such a freon. Some of these gases are very harmful to breathe, and virtually all of them are quite damaging to the ozone layer.
Because these lines are made of copper, most scrappers want to recycle them, but before they can legally be recycled, an HVAC professional with the right certification needs to drain them. If you have certification or know someone who does, you’re in luck—but if not, you may not be able to fully recycle the refrigerator without paying a professional to do this work properly.
However, there are some other valuable parts on the refrigerator! Fortunately, these parts are generally easy to access, and can still be worth quite a lot.
Materials to Look Out For
Virtually every part of the refrigerator can be recycled. That being said, you should keep an eye out for some of the following materials in particular, because they are the most valuable.
Non-Magnetic Stainless Steel – This metal, often used on refrigerators in the form of panels, is one of the more valuable ferrous materials. Every time you remove a component from the refrigerator, be sure to test it with a magnet, and sort out non-magnetic materials from magnetic ones. Sorting your scrap always earns you more cash in the long run!
Copper – While you can’t cut the copper refrigerant lines, there’s often still a good amount of copper to be found when dismantling a refrigerator, due to the electrical components. Be sure to cut away and strip all wiring of insulation to find the valuable copper inside. The motor that spins the refrigerator’s fan(s) will often contain copper too, and is always recyclable.
Please note that you should be sure to completely cut power to the refrigerator before dismantling it, even if the refrigerator doesn’t work at all. Also, be sure to wear proper safety equipment such as work gloves and eye protection.
Recycling an Entire Fridge
If you don’t feel up to dismantling an entire refrigerator, you can always scrap the whole thing. You won’t earn as much money this way because the yard will have to dismantle and sort the fridge components themselves, but a refrigerator can be worth a decent amount of money even as mixed metal (due to its high weight).
We hope it goes without saying, but please don’t bring a fridge with food still in it.
Whether you choose to dismantle the fridge yourself or bring the whole thing in for recycling, always put safety and environmental responsibility first!