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copper

How to Scrap a Stereo - Dallas, TX

How to Scrap a Stereo

When a car or home stereo goes bad, rather than throw it out, it’s worth the effort to take it apart at least a little bit and get at some of the potentially valuable scrap metal inside.

In this post, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to make the process of dismantling a stereo easier. Metals such as copper and even gold (in small amounts) are often available inside stereos, and even the wiring and motherboards can have significant value.

Before beginning to dismantle a stereo or any other appliance or electronic device, it’s important to make sure it is completely disconnected from all power sources. For a home stereo, unplug it from the wall, and cut the cord—this can be sold as insulated wire! Before dismantling a car stereo head unit, remove it from the dashboard. Stay safe, scrappers!

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Where to Find Copper Wire in Dallas and Garland - Encore Recyclers

Where to Find Copper Wire

Scrap copper is one of our customers’ favorite metals to hunt for, because it’s always in high demand. Even non-scrappers know that copper is a consistently valuable material. One of the most common ways to find copper is in the form of copper wire.

The Most Common Places to Find Copper Wire

One of the most common places to find copper wire is along with electronics. Whether you have some old computers you’re taking apart for their e-scrap value or a broken television set you’re having trouble getting rid of, it’s worth the time to do some basic dismantling to get valuable copper wire separated from other materials.

The easiest place to find insulated copper wire is in power cords of electronics. Even if you don’t have many tools or much experience taking apart electronics, you can probably cut a power cord—just be sure to take all the proper safety precautions while doing so.

A single power cord might not seem like it’ll bring a lot of value, but saving your insulated copper wire in a bucket or storage bin can lead to a pretty nice payday when it comes time to take all your scrap down to the yard.

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Top 5 Places to Find Copper for Recycling - Dallas, TX

Top 5 Places to Find Copper for Recycling

There’s a reason copper is one of the most frequently recycled metals at scrap facilities like Encore Recyclers. It’s pretty much the most valuable per-pound metal that you can frequently find in large quantities. However, it’s a lot easier to find if you know where to look—so here are the top five places to find scrap copper.

1. Construction and Demolition Sites

This might be the best place to find scrap copper—but it’s also the one you most often hear about people stealing copper from. Whenever you see a pile of copper—even if it’s in a Dumpster—be sure to ask the owner’s permission to take it. It’s often best to get them to sign the copper over to you, too.

One of the best ways to easily and legally get scrap copper from construction and demolition sites is to offer yourself up as a haul-away service. This is especially effective when it comes to small construction businesses, who may not have the resources to haul a lot of copper themselves.

That’s where you come in—by offering to haul away their scrap for free or very cheap, you can help a small business while also making some money yourself. You can often get other kind of scrap metal, such as steel, the same way!

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Copper Recycling - Dallas, TX

Why Is Copper the Most Sought-After Metal for Recycling?

If you’ve been scrapping in Dallas for a while, you likely already know that copper is in high demand—meaning that you get more money per pound for your copper recycling than for almost anything else when it comes time to bring your materials into the yard.

Even if you aren’t yet a scrapper, you’ve likely heard at least one off-the-wall story about copper thieves stealing materials, especially copper wire. In two different cities, copper thieves actually succeeded in tearing out parts of underground power lines, leaving thousands of residents without power.

Whether you’ve been scrapping for years or you just hear about copper prices, sales, or thefts now and again, you’ve likely wondered why copper is so valuable and sought-after. We have the answers—and tips on how to recycle copper easily and legally yourself!

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Scrap Metal Hidden in Your House - Dallas, TX

Scrap Metal Hidden in Your House

The easiest way to get started as a scrapper is to start scrapping materials in your own home. You can learn many of the skills necessary to becoming a successful scrapper, without the added difficulty of looking for and asking permission to take recyclable materials.

Most people are surprised when they find out how much potentially valuable recyclable scrap metal is in their own home—and love making a positive impact on the environment while also earning a little extra cash.

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Penny Scrapping Controversy - Dallas, TX

Penny Scrapping Controversy

One of the biggest areas of contention in the scrap metal community involves the collection of copper pennies. Here’s some background on the subject to help you form your own opinions. But let us state clearly at the very beginning: scrapping or melting down a copper penny to be scrapped is currently illegal.

Why People Collect Copper Pennies

As many scrap metal enthusiasts know, copper is a fairly valuable metal. Because of this, older pennies that contain copper are often considered to be worth more than their face value in scrap metal. Many estimate that each copper penny is worth about one and a half cents, though this fluctuates every day with the market value of copper.

However, melting these pennies down is illegal, meaning that they are not viable for scrapping at this time. Despite this, many scrap metal and coin collecting enthusiasts collect copper pennies, hoping that the ban on melting them down will be lifted in the near future.

Because of the significant enthusiasm around the collection of copper pennies, many collectors end up paying a premium on copper pennies. This is not worth the money in most cases for several reasons.

The first is that copper pennies are readily available at face value. The second is that there is no guarantee that the ban on melting pennies down will ever be lifted. The third is that copper pennies are not pure copper; rather, they consist of 95% copper.

While paying a premium for copper pennies is not a good idea, you may think it’s worth your time to get copper pennies in other ways. Simply picking up a roll or box of pennies at your local bank could net you a few copper pennies, for example, if you take the time to sort them.

While there is no guaranteed return on this investment because the ban may never be lifted, you also cannot lose money “buying” pennies at face value. Some scrap and coin collectors don’t think sorting through the pennies is worth the time, while others think it is a fun hobby and a good way to find rarer pennies that fetch good sums of money on the open market.

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How to Recycle Your Scrap Metal for the Best Price - Dallas, TX

Getting Ready to Recycle Your Scrap Metal

After you’ve finished a demolition or other project, you may wish to recycle your scrap metal. Scrap metal is not biodegradable, so it’s ideal for recycling. And while Encore Recyclers will buy your metal when mixed together, you may be able to achieve a better price for your scrap by separating out your scrap metals and doing a little prep work, such as removing plastic, rubber, or other contaminants. Read on to learn how to best separate and prep your scrap materials.

Clean your scrap metal

First, remove any contaminants, such as dirt, plastic, rubber, or other metals. The consumer mills that we sell to in bulk will only take clean, uncontaminated scrap metal that they can put directly into their furnaces. If we receive scrap that is free of contaminants, we are better able to pass the labor savings onto you.

For cars and other vehicles

Most scrap companies, including Encore Recyclers, will accept entire battery assemblies and entire catalytic converters. Electric motor parts can also be recycled. The field windings (parts with copper wire wound around) should be separated out from the iron and steel for the best price (armatures are very difficult to separate and might need to be chiseled out). The same goes for starters and alternators. Copper or brass radiators from older cars are valuable for scrap; you can identify copper by its bluish-green patina or by scraping the flanges of the radiator and looking for the reddish hue characteristic of copper. Aluminum radiators common in newer cars are not as valuable as coppers ones, but are still worth recycling. Heater cores are brass or aluminum radiators that can be recycled as scrap metal. With all of these parts, you can maximize the value of your scrap by removing pieces of plastic, insulation, and extraneous metals.

Separate ferrous from non-ferrous metals

Iron, steel and other ferrous metals are magnetic. For smaller pieces of metal, you may even be able to lift them out of piles of scrap metal with a large magnet.

Separate non-magnetic, stainless steel

Stainless steel is alloy containing chromium. It has a dull shine and is heavier than chrome- or nickel-plated steel. Sometimes, it may be slightly magnetic. If you do find stainless steel that’s magnetic, you should add it to your ferrous metals.

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Selling Insulated Copper Wire Scrap for the Highest Price in Dallas, TX

Should You Burn Your Copper Wire to Earn More Money For Scrap?

Spoiler alert: NO!

We saw a disturbing video of a man advocating the burning of insulated copper wire, purportedly to qualify the wire as Copper #2, which brings a higher sale value when sold as scrap than insulated wire. Please don’t do this.

Burning insulated wire in Texas is ILLEGAL under the federal Clean Air Act.

Burning copper wire is not a safe way to release the copper inside it. Burning copper wire releases carcinogens and toxins into the air and into the ground around the burn site, including “dioxins, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, particulate matter, heavy metals (such as lead, arsenic, selenium and cadmium) and other pollutants.”

You might wonder how burning copper wire yourself is different from the industrial process used to reclaim copper from insulated wire. It’s true that heat is also used to strip copper wire in a commercial setting. There is a big difference between holding copper wire over a flame, as an amateur might do, and a factory that uses the intense heat of an industrial incinerator and appropriate venting procedures. Burning insulated copper wire yourself releases toxins that can damage your nervous system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system, not to mention increasing your risk of cancer.

Fines and punishment for not following this code are steep. You could face fines in the tens of thousands of dollars or even jail time. If someone should catch you burning insulated wire, they can report you for a reward.

This blog post from Scrap Metal Junkie breaks down the foolishness of burning copper wire for economic purposes.

Say for example that #1 copper scrap is worth 2.60 per pound, scrap insulated wire is worth $1.20 per pound, and burned wire is worth $2.20 per pound… For a pile of wire that weighs under 100 lbs, there is NO reason to burn it.

If you burned 100 lbs of insulated copper wire copper wire, and you end up with less than 60 pounds of burned copper, then that means you have broken even…(When you burn copper wire, it loses about half its weight, depending on the type of wire.)

On the other hand, if you were to strip the same wire, you would make at least $31!

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