Everything you take into your local scrap yard should be cleaned and sorted to the best of your abilities: it helps you make the most money, and also ensures the safety of the employees at the scrap yard. It might just impress your local scrap yard (and your scrapping friends), too.
However, sometimes you’ll come across items that are quite challenging—and in some cases even dangerous—to properly take apart. In these situations, you have to ask yourself about your expertise, the tools you have on hand, and your willingness to put in the work. Of course, you’ll also have to consider the additional profits you’ll make from taking an item apart before scrapping it.
Easier Than You Think
There are a lot of things you’ll come across in the scrapping world that seem a lot harder to take apart at first glance than they really are. These are worth taking the time and effort to disassemble properly, because you’ll be able to learn how to do it effectively without a huge amount of effort, and because they’re fairly common items.
Desktop computer towers are a big one: because the technology behind computers is so complicated, we almost automatically assume that it’ll be extraordinarily difficult to disassemble one of these. However, taking apart a computer is a lot easier than designing and building a microprocessor. Best of all, it can be done even if you don’t have many tools around: a simple screwdriver will take you a long way.
One of the reasons computers are so easy to disassemble is that everything is neatly and logically laid out inside. Additionally, there’s a lot of extra space in there, because air flow is a key part of preventing computers from overheating.
Laptop computers are fairly easy to take apart, too, but there’s a little less extra space involved. Additionally, you’ll need to be sure to remove the battery from any laptops you plan to work on, as breaking open a battery can be extremely dangerous.
The Big Challenges
There are a couple items you’ll come across quite frequently that are difficult to take apart. In some cases, they’re definitely worth the effort, and in others, you might be best to stay away.
Refrigerators and air conditioners are some of the most common difficult items. They can certainly be worth some serious cash, but there’s also a big risk involved: these both contain freon, which can be extremely dangerous in poorly ventilated spaces and is decidedly unfriendly to the environment. To top all that off, releasing freon is illegal, and you can catch a hefty fine for doing do.
Unless you or a friend is an HVAC professional, it’s best to do the bare minimum on these: taking off exterior covers and the like, and removing any parts you can tell for certain don’t contain freon.
Of course, there are also some parts that are difficult to take apart, but absolutely worth the effort. Electric motors are a big one: you can find these in virtually anything. While their tiny moving parts can prove frustrating at times, there’s often valuable steel and copper to be had. Just be sure all power is completely cut, in order to protect your safety.
The Final Word
Of course, even with the most challenging items to properly disassemble, there are a few things you can do with relative ease to maximize your profits. Taking off the external cover of an air conditioner, for example, only involves a screwdriver and a couple minutes in a lot of cases.
Whatever you can do to safely and easily clean up an item and separate into its component parts is worth it—but do your research and consider your expertise, too, because safety is the most important thing.