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Metal Recyclers | Do They Take Water Heaters?

When you get a new appliance, it can be difficult to figure out what to do with the old one. Most people’s first impulse is to take their old water heater to the dump.

However, a better option would be to take it to a metal recycler, where it would not only benefit the environment but also potentially benefit your wallet.

Many metal recyclers take old water heaters. Most will pay for the scrap at a market-standard rate. Some recyclers charge a fee, but this won’t exceed the price of the metal. Some will collect the water heater. Others put the onus on the seller.

Metal Recyclers Accept Old Water Heaters

Luckily, since they are made from metal and the metal is typically easy to access, most metal recyclers will accept old water heaters. However, it is important to note that some recyclers may only accept parts of the heater, and you should check with them first.

There are a few requirements necessary before handing off your old heater. First, the heater must be fully drained. As this actually makes transport a lot easier for you, this stipulation is not often considered to be a major obstacle. In addition, you also must possess an ID and be of legal age to sell something.

Transporting the Water Heater to the Recyclers

The first step to recycling your water heater is to contact the recyclers. Depending on the company, they may offer to pick it up for free or for a fee, depending on how close you are to the scrap yard.

Transporting the Water Heater to the Recyclers

Other companies may put you in charge of transporting it. This is easy if you own a pick-up truck or other similar vehicle. Another option would be to rent a trailer or hire a pick-up service. Be sure to check if the service is reliable before hiring them. There are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t mind cashing in your scrap metal themselves.

Can You Get Money for the Old Heater?

In general, you can get money from recycling your heater. However, there are a couple of factors that influence how much you’ll make.

The first thing to consider is the current rate of scrap metal. Recyclers will typically pay the market price of stainless steel due to it being the predominant material. Currently, stainless steel is sold at $0.35 per lb.

As water heaters can, on average, weigh between 100 and 150 lbs, this equates to $35-52.5.

See Water Heater Weight Tables for a more comprehensive list of how much water heaters weigh and how much you can make from recycling them.

Recyclers will also consider your water heater’s condition when pricing it. If your heater is rusty, the rate could possibly be lower because the amount of usable scrap metal is less. It is also possible that recyclers won’t accept it at all if it is in bad condition.

Some Recyclers Charge a Fee

Depending on the recycler, you will either get paid outright for your heater, or you may be charged a fee. Typically, the fee will not be more than the price of the scrap metal.

You could either pay the fee, or if that sounds unappealing, you could search for another recycler. However, it could become a hassle and not worth the effort to find another recycler or to drive a further distance.

Especially if you are trying to get rid of your water heater, it is recommended to pay the fee as long as it does not exceed the price of the heater.

Separate the More Valuable Metals

If you are looking to get more out of your heater, you could take out the more valuable metals in it, such as copper, brass, or aluminum, and sell them separately.

This is because, all together, the tank is considered steel. When you sell the separated metals and the tank, however, you’ll receive the price of the more valuable metals in addition to the tank.

Yes, the weight of the tank will be less, but the amount you lose in stainless steel will be more than covered in the price paid for the more precious metals.

The first parts you could inspect are the pipes sticking out of the cap of the heater, as they are likely made of copper and could also have brass parts. In addition, you should check the valve on the top, which is possibly made of copper.

If the heater is gas, you should investigate the gas regulator, as it is often made of aluminum. 

If the heater is electric, you could take a peek inside at the heating elements. They typically contain copper coverings on wires.

Valuable materials such as copper, brass, or aluminum that you can get more of in a water heater


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