Scrapping an Old Central Air Conditioner: Is It Worth the Time?

junk and old air conditioner systems in a scrap yard

In today’s real estate market, many people are finding it cheaper and more sensible to repair and remodel older homes than purchasing or building new ones. Part of the remodeling process often involves getting rid of major appliances such as central air conditioning units. Disposal must be handled correctly, but it is possible to actually make a bit of money if you choose to do the majority of it yourself.

Why You Should Do It

Most air conditioning units contain tons of non-ferrous metal that can be worth quite a bit of money at your local scrapyard. One of the most in-demand metals contained in these units is copper, and while the amount you will receive varies based upon your exact location and the value of the metal at the time you turn it in, it’s generally quite a bit. Both the indoor and outdoor parts of these machines are quite valuable, in fact.

Legal Implications

Before you just start tearing apart your unit, keep in mind that they contain refrigerants even if they haven’t been used in a decade or more. These refrigerants are carefully regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, under the Clean Air Act. A little physical harm may come to you if you breathe in the vapors, but releasing those vapors into the atmosphere is actually a crime that is punishable by tens of thousands of dollars in fines and perhaps even jail time.

Taking Care of the Refrigerant

If you are interested in scrapping your AC unit, then the best thing to do first is have a qualified professional come to your home and capture the refrigerant safely. These individuals have all of the tools, knowledge and expertise they need to recover and dispose of Freon and other coolants that cannot be released into the atmosphere. There will likely be a small charge for this, but it is well worth it in the end.

Ñâàëêà ìåòàëëîëîìàTear It Apart or Sell It As-Is?

Another question that many homeowners ask is whether they should take the time to actually break down the unit and extract the valuable metals themselves or simply sell the whole thing to a scrapyard as it is. This is a good question, and it really comes down to ability and preference. Some scrappers will buy the entire unit as it is, but others will not. What’s more, you are likely to earn more money if you break down the individual components yourself.

What to Sell

If you are going to break down the unit on your own once you have had the refrigerant extracted, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. The most important thing, and the most valuable, is the copper that is found inside of your unit. Be sure that you not only remove the copper lines, but that you also look for any thick insulated copper wiring as every little bit counts.

While not everyone has the time, resources or ability to scrap their old central air conditioners, they are still worth money even if they are sold to a scrapyard as a sealed unit. It’s a great way to avoid any fees that you may be charged for the removal of these units, and you might even be able to pocket some money, too.