How To Scrap An Air Conditioning Unit

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Whole Condenser Coils1 How To Scrap An Air Conditioning Unit These Scrap Copper-Aluminum Coils are the most valuable scrap in an air conditioner.

Welcome to ScrapMetalJunkie! The interent’s finest scrap metal recycling resource. This entry in the Scrapper’s Handbook is an overview to recycling an AC unit for the copper, aluminum, and steel scrap value. 

Every scrapper’s dream is to find a “jackpot” of metal that is ripe for the picking. If you have any type of experience under your belt, you’ll know that “jackpots” are not happened upon often… unless, of course, you happen to find an old AC unit.

That’s right, AC units are a ripe cocktail of non-ferrous metals, and contain many pounds of copper on average! They are a specialized scrap item at most scrap yards, and they can easily get picked up or bought off of an HVAC  man. The more you know about the value of a scrap AC unit, the more money you will find yourself making.

WARNING: AC units contain freon and other refrigerants regulated by the U.S. federal government under the Clean Air Act. Briefly breathing freon will cause little harm to you physically; but if you are caught releasing freon by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) without an HVAC license (even with the proper equipment) you will be fined tens of thousands of dollars and/or jailed.

Now that I’ve gotten that line out of the way, lets discuss the three main types of AC units:

Portable/rolling AC units are built like humidifiers/de-humidifiers. They usually have a little more plastic than other types of AC units. These are worth taking apart.

Window AC units are small and densely packaged devices. They have relatively small radiators/condensers, and are heavy for their size. These are worth taking apart. 

Larger AC units have a rather flimsy build, with very large radiators/condensers. After taking out several screws (depending on the model) the whole thing will basically fall apart. These types of machines are the real money makers! They are packed with non-ferrous with very little contamination! These are worth taking apart.

It should be pretty clear; every type of AC unit is worth taking apart. Never just throw them into the scrap heap if you can otherwise help it. I realize that time is not unlimited, and for many people selling scrap metal is just a part time job or hobby; but if you are in any way serious about getting the most money for your scrap, you need to learn to tear AC units apart.

Scrap Compressors And Scrap Sealed Units

These things are the big black spheroids that weigh down the AC unit. They are a thick layer of steel plate, inside of which is a rather heavy duty motor used for compressing the working fluids in the scrap AC unit.

Some scrap yards buy these “sealed units” as is, and others want nothing to do with them. I know many scrappers who swear by sealed units, save them up for months, and then spend days non-stop breaking them down into copper, steel, etc. (The only problem is that there is always a lot of oil left over.)

If you can’t find a scrap yard that buys the sealed units as-is, and don’t want to break them down yourself, consider finding another scrapper that does! Post a selling ad, or look for a wanted ad in our Forum! Many scrappers in your area would love to buy your sealed units to break down. (If that doesn’t work, you can always network at the scrap yard, or on Craigslist.)

Scrap sealed units can be cut open with an angle grinder while being held in a vice; The wire can be stripped from the motor, or the motor can be sold as is.

Before cutting open the sealed unit, let all of the compressor oil drain out. It will take several minutes for the last dribbles to come out. This can be saved and recycled as well.

Scrap Radiators and Scrap Condenserscutcoils1 How To Scrap An Air Conditioning Unit

These are the non-ferrous tube systems that are used to compress air and radiate off heat. The bigger the AC unit, the larger its radiators are and the more valuable it is.

Scrap radiators come in a few different flavors: Aluminum, Copper-aluminum, and copper-brass. When it comes to scrap air conditioner radiators, however, they are almost exclusively copper-aluminum. That is to say, they have aluminum fins with copper tubes.

To get the best prices for your scrap radiators, you will want to clean them up! This doesn’t mean you should pull out the soap and water. This means you need to remove all steel contamination from the aluminum/copper. This means cutting off the steel with a sawzall or circular saw. (And wear eye protection!) After cutting off the steel, be weary of the hydraulic oil that will drain out of the scrap AC units and scrap radiators/condenser coils.

Scrap Copper Lines
There are numerous scrap copper lines in a scrap air conditioner, besides those in the scrap radiators. To assure that you get the best prices for these scrap copper lines, be sure to cut out any solder joints. Copper tubes without soldered joints are worth at least 10¢ more then copper tubes with soldered joints. (Copper tubes without soldered joints are called “Copper #1″ and copper pipes with soldered joints are called “Copper #2″) The difference between them is ~10¢ per pound, so it is worth separating if you have the patience.

How To Break Down A Scrap Air Conditioner

ac theft How To Scrap An Air Conditioning Unit

To master breaking down a scrap air conditioner, you will need practice. I recommend a hybrid of two methods: The Disassembling method, and the BFH method. 

We start off by disassembling the outside of the AC unit to get to the insides. Take the outside shell of the AC unit off by finding whatever type of drill bit or socket is necessary to remove its fasteners. If you are taking apart a central air conditioner, like pictured right,  then you can just cut the condenser lines and pull it out. Otherwise, work taking off appropriate fasteners until you strip the machine down to the condenser(s).

This leads us to the second method: Remember that many components are fastened to bent sheet steel, and the screws and bolts can easily get smacked out of place with a BFH.

Once you have the steel components separated as much as possible, you can next cut the copper lines out. This is usually done easily with a large pair of copper wire cutters, or a bolt cutter.  Avoid leaving any small pieces of copper by cutting close to connections, but not close enough to leave steel contamination. Cut out soldered joints in the lines as they are worth Copper #2 price; If what is left is not painted, then it is copper #1.  Be sure to have some type of oil pan ready to collect the compressor oil left in the copper lines.

Using side cutter, bolt cutters, or wire cutters, isolate any other copper rich components like insulated wire or fan motors. The fan motors in large scrap air conditioning units are generally very good motors for tearing apart.

Save all of the left over steel. It adds up  much quicker than you realize. I know it sounds crazy to most of us reading this, but there are still many people who will just throw out the steel because they don’t think it’s worth saving. (If you don’t like dealing with steel, I know many people who will “recycle” it for free. icon biggrin How To Scrap An Air Conditioning Unit )

Don’ts

  • Don’t sell your AC units as shred, if you can help it.
  • Don’t release refrigerant, because if you get caught it is a serious fine and possible jail time.
  • Don’t sell your scrap radiators and condensers without first cutting off any steel contamination.
  • Don’t forget about sealed units: They are worth more than shred. Network with other scrappers, or scrap yards, to find a buyer if you don’t want to tear them apart for yourself.
  • Don’t throw out the steel. 

{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

He's right October 14, 2011 at 12:26 am

The big black heavy Sealed Units are my all-time favorite metal. I call that the “high-grade steel” because that extra nickel to .15 cents EXTRA per lb x 495lbs is quite a bit of extra cash to walk into the LAX McDonalds with!

Didnt know other folks were into this as much as me

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 14, 2011 at 3:40 am

Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you like the site! What was the last type of metal you scrapped?

I also suggest you join our forum.

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insanecandycane July 3, 2012 at 8:17 am

the solder on those joints are SILVER solder. use the FRESHNEL LENSE (the magnifing plastic lense behind the out side plactic lense( very expensive too)from the rear projection tv to melt it. any where a ribbon cable connects to a board on a computer there is gold plated pins, best to remove with a pencil torch to the back side to get ALL the pin, not just part of it. it is very profitable to process the precious metals your self and processing takes just a few minutes of actual work. put it in the chemical and leave it for a week or two. why get say $1.00 a pound for boards when you can get 50 or more dollars a pound? selling to a refiner you get riped off too. he pays you less than spot for the gold, charges a big sum for refining it, and keeps all the other metals for free. have you thought about glass and ceramic dishes? ever noticed that gold or silver colored stuff that embellishes the fancy stuff? just look on the back, it should say 22K GOLD PLATED. this is actualy gold leaf of 22K. just buy a bottle of winks rust stain remover( hydrofloric acid) found in the laundry isle at any store. let the dish soak in the acid in a tightly covered container( to save it from evaporating). this loosens the sizeing (glue) and the gold just falls off! at even just $1000 a troy ounce (32 grams).
i have scraped exclusively at a auction center for 5 years, recycling the left overs, i do it for free and keep what i wish.i sold just 1 deck of cards for $64 on ebay. took a whole 15 minutes to pick it up and list(as auction) and send. take that kids nintendo game card apart with a hammer (2 seconds) and look at the gold on the inside. i have a “RAY B” wooden camera with tripod dated 1898 that is all there and works( made for just 1 year) with the origional owners name engraved on a nameplate .
scrapping is just another word for recycling and i do both! i laugh at the guys that cut the cords off of tv’s etc and leave all the good stuff for me.
i took the apliance demanufacturing course from the department of natural resourses in my state. the pcb’s in the capacitors everyone is worrying about, well right on the capacitor it should say “no pcb’s” if it does not say that or if it is leaking it is considdered to contain pcb’s (hazardious materials). the EPA has a $5,000 reward for turning in someone for releasing freon into the atmosphere, and the guilty party gets a $10,000 fine. get you a vacume pump, and if you do cut a line, do it in private and dont say anything. $5,000 is a good sized incentive for your brother inlaw or another scraper to rat you out. crt tubes are hazardious materials only if they are comprimised(broken). in my state (iowa) if the dnr sees an appliance in a scrap yard with out a demenufacturers registered mark on it, it is one hell of a fine, they could also be tested for contaminates, which they all have, which means super fund clean-up. free patents online look up equipment you wish for there, and then build simular to fit your needs and budget. i in NO WAY claim to be an EXPERT on anything, but i a belive in learning at least 1 new thing a day. and to me there is only 2 uses for a tv, 1 is to program you, and the other is to make me money scrapping it. i have a local source to get rid of the crt glass for free. and i smelt all my boards, high and low grade, to get maxim value.
i have learned quite a few things here. oh yea, 1 more big money maker is circuit breakers and switches. the electrical contacts are almost always a silver alloy, and some are quite big, and attached to heavy copper. thank you, and forgive me for getting alittle off topic, im adhd at 55 yrs old and my mind races at the speed of light.

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Luke Murry September 13, 2013 at 2:49 am

Hello, best wishes, and thank you so much! That was a whole lot of excellent information you just shared… I wish I could apprentice with you! I really appreciate you taking the time to pass on all those lucrative tips to everyone, helping near total strangers like that is awesome. Thanks again!

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Andrew October 9, 2013 at 11:50 am

I like you!! :-) brilliance is all I can say, oh and thank you.

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Nathan December 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Great resource. Employer had a rooftop unit that went bad, he replaced and was essentially going to toss the bad unit. After a local bud telling me that it may contain some value, I googled scrapping the unit & ended up here. Tomorrow is day 1 of tear down. Thanks again

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Thanks for the comment. I’m glad to hear you get to keep the AC unit. How did the teardown go?

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scott January 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

My dad owns a heatig & air Co. and I have scraped million’s of actually units and I mean so one time I made $25,000 on one haul but I never scraped the compressors or the scrap metal. So I’m going start doing that because I have a lot of old compressors some so big they won’t fit into the bed of a mid sized truck you have to haul them in a huge dully work truck! So thanks a lot for the info!!!!!!

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 18, 2012 at 12:28 am

I really appreciate your comment, Scott!
I am curious about, and somewhat skeptical of, your claim of making $25k from selling just scrap copper from AC units. If that really were the case, you must have sold over 4 tons of copper, roughly 2 average automobiles worth of copper. This much copper would need to be harvested from, conservatively, 800 household AC units. That is over 2 AC units per day for a year. God bless ya if that’s true!

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geno February 10, 2012 at 2:39 am

How would u be able to pull copper out a motor cause it looks like magnets around the coils please email me back scrapper

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Cargo February 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

This handbook of yours makes an excellent bookmark, thanks a ton. I’m a half-year into scrap now and I have barely a power tool to my name (a hobby dremel) so I have some advice and a question. For the condenser, if you cut the copper U’s off one end, you can hold it at an angle and whack off the steel, then (if it’s worth it? .. I did it) expose 1/2 inch of pipe, clamp down with a lg pair of pliers and start coiling the pipe around them, the fins tear apart. For the last bit you’ll have to bunch up an inch of fins at a time and ply them off. (Est. 2 minutes a pipe @ window unit length)

My best bet on the sealed unit is a hammer and axe-head combo.. haven’t gotten to it yet.

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 15, 2012 at 12:44 am

Thanks for the comment! If your question was, should you cut off the steel from condenser coils, then the answer is YES! If you have a follow up question, please ask away!

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Cargo February 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Ah that wasn’t very clear was it? My question was, at 2 minutes a pipe, is it worth it to separate the aluminum from the copper? With an alternator as an example, I believe I got $0.22/lb under “aluminum motors” or some such jazz. Which is less even than the price of al, forget the copper. That was my first day going to a yard, and since then I’ve doggedly separated every little piece of scrap that’s come my way (excepting #2 insulated).

Now that I’ve thought to check, I see Al rad’s are going for $0.45/lb. With that deal, just like the alternator, not only are we not being paid for our copper, they’re getting a discount on our aluminum!

That’s answer enough, but thanks for your quick reply.

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leonard August 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm

NEVER HIT AN AX WITH A HAMMER OF ANY KIND!!!
in 1976 i was useing an ax for a splitting wedge to split wood in the back yard, the handle was still in the ax. ill never do that again. the ax head cracked and a small splinter of ax head went into my eye. my dad took me to the hospital and they had to call a specialist. only permenant damage is some rust staining. metal rusts pretty fast in tears!
for cutting sealed units, i use a sawzaw, i have a work stsnd on wheels i use. it has a stainless steel perfrated funnel and i caped off the end. this is placed under the work top, and into the top of a metal bucket with hole in lid just for this. on the worktop is a metal pan i made for this operation too. it has a drain tube at the center of its bottom that the oil and metal shavings drain out from. i use a coffee filter in the perf. funnel to catch any metal that drains out of the pan and not stick to the magnets. if you use cuters to cut any copper you do not get copper shavings, but i use sawzaw for alot of stuff. non ferius metals will stick to the filter paper and not go threw it. this pretty well gets all the metal out of the oil you collect. i get tons of magnets as i even break down my audio speakers into insulated copper, fine bare #2 copper, brass, steel, tin, and magnets. i glue the magnets to just about anything they will not stick to on their own. makes seperating magnetic from non magnetic alot easier.
as for the oil, there are lots of places that would be more than happy to take it off your hands. just about any auto repair center will have a used oil burning heater. my local recycling center will take all they can get. lots of info on the web on useing it to heat metal melting furnace. some do not even use any type of compressed air or other fuel, but use the “chimney effect” of hot air riseing to reach increadible tempretures. why sell #2 copper when with a little work in building the furnace, you can use a by-product to convert it into #1 which is always higher than #2, if you make you some molds that will hold multiples of 1 ounce increment bars, you will have copper bullion which people will buy at a premenium to use for currency when SHTF happens. by the way, i sold laed acid batteries yesterday for $1 a pound. 2 lawnmower batteries brought $32.

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crystal February 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm

where would i go to release the freon in an window ac thank you

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george February 18, 2012 at 10:23 am

i usually just take it in the back of my truck out in the country,take a hacksaw and cut into the copper line just enough that it starts to let lose an then hit the road,window units dont take but a minute or two to discharge but as i found out today the large central air units hold a shitload of freon an take anywhere to 6to15 minutes to fully discharge their toxic little fumes and thats with a pretty size cut in the line. I am no expert an am knew to this but common sense tells me to do it legally first you need to be licensed or certified with Hazmat an there is a quick connect or valve or whatever you like to call it,you hook up to it with your fitted gas line which i ran to a nearby portable tank,open your tank,your lines an whoosh it should be on its way to safely an legally discharging. Me I just make sure no one is looking,cut it an walk away,an come back when its done an if someone happens to be there when you return,”say with a wtf did you do look on your face”why did you do that to that airconditioner,dont you know that its highly illegal,like ahh…..federal illegal to do that,not to mention bad for the environment you law breaking,lets gas the earth nazi! I think this is gonna require a little $ to keep my tree hugging,support your local law enforcement,telling ass mouth shut or i might have to contact the local authorities not to mention the E.P.A an let them see”take picture of person standing by air unit with dumb confused look on their face with your cell phone”what it is you are doing. anyway hope my answer maybe helped answer your question

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savannah patriot April 24, 2012 at 2:33 am

dude. that is the funniest thing i’ve ever read! i tell people to do the same thing and get looks that scream “WTF are you thinking”, and i have to say to myself, “oh you believe that global warming sh!t, too”

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GB July 11, 2013 at 4:14 am

You are a disgusting individual. You are the reason our children have so many health issues. We only have one world. If the greed of individuals like you continues unchecked we are doomed. Do the right thing and drain off the freon and oil correctly. So you won’t max out the amount of money for scrap -tough.

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Josh October 7, 2013 at 5:16 am

Lmfao, best post I’ve seen yet!! Keep up the good work George

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S.J.Jakes October 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

When I posted my coherent comment, there was a pause that said, “awaiting moderation”, and yet THIS???

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need cash February 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Is it worth more money to knock out the copper tubing from the aluminum/copper coils? The recycling center near us pays .48 per lb. for aluminum, $1.58 per lb. for aluminum/copper, and of course more on copper.

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 23, 2012 at 3:12 am

yes, it is worth more money! But make sure it actually worth the amount of time you spend ripping them apart.

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joe February 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

I have a bunch of ac fins how do you hold them in place and cutt them efficently I don’t want to cash them in with the steel I honestly have about 50 units worth I used to buy them on the side off scrappers when I bought mowers to repair them

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joe February 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

is the sazall better or the circuler saw , Im going to be doing this tommorw let me noe

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 26, 2012 at 12:31 am

Hey Joe!

I tried to explain this in the article, but either a Sawzall of a circular saw work great, depending on what type of set-up you have. A Sawzall works well if you can secure the rads with a vice, and then cut the steel off by cutting the pipes on the inside of the steel plates after bending any edges outward!! I prefer to cut on the inside of the plates because it doesn’t wear down the blades as bad, and it allows you to easily pull the copper elbows off with some pliers.

The circular saw works better if you don’t have a vice, or if you dont have a good sawzall. Make sure you use a circular “metal cutting” blade for best results, and try to cut on the outside of the steel plate after bending any edges inward.

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joe February 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

thanks man for the advice

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jamison wilson March 1, 2012 at 4:24 am

Scrap metal junkie, you are the man! love the site. and i love your comment to scott half way up! i make BANK off a/c units, and have made them the primary focus of my scrap company, advantage metal’s in kc buys condensers, but i scrapped them as steel until you taught me better :) keep up the good work and good job on being a great teacher of fellow scrappers. I LOVE being my own boss, and since i’ve been scrapping, It’ll take a very high paying job to steer me away. thanks again scrap metal junkie! :)

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 1, 2012 at 5:30 am

Thanks you for the warm comment, Jamison. Reading comments like yours makes maintaining this website seem so worthwhile! (Being my own boss gives me the greatest feeling I know of.) I love your attitude, keep up the hard work, and I wish you all the best!

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margaret March 8, 2012 at 2:43 am

I have a huge outdoor unit (long square – like from the 70′s) that is on its last leg i don’t even think a service person would add freon to it as the last I was told the compressor is going or now gone (it needed help to get the fan blade turning). I am not sure I want to mess with taking everything apart to scrap it myself, is there anyone that buys these units to do the tear downs and get the scrap dollars themselves? I am in the kc area and i mean i could & i would take it apart as far as just separating the parts down to the motor, fan, compressor, etc., but after reading here about taking the wire out of motors, separating the fins from the radiator, etc. I don’t think I can do that. As far as freon goes – don’t think there is any in it (definately does not blow cool air if we are able to get the fan going and not just a hum from the motor) and if there is its about a spits worth.
Thanx!

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Christian Matthew Embler March 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Hey! I am 17 years old and my friend(he is 16) has this great idea… Currently, heating and cooling companies will let other guys haul away broken AC units for free but my friend’s idea is to pay the heating and cooling businesses for the AC unit(that way we get more business because we are more marketable to the heating and cooling companies), break it apart, and sell the precious metals to the scrap-yard place. His dad owns a heating and cooling business and he thinks it’s a great idea and he is willing to lend us a truck, trailer, generator(for the power tools like Zawzall(or sawzaw.. I’m sure you know what I mean), and tools(including a machine that extracts Freon and we can resell it) to do this. My questions are: Is this a good idea?, Do you think it is worth making it a full time gig(over the summer)?, How much on average is an ac unit worth(a common one)(sorry but I don’t know hardly anything about this stuff)?, and Do you think(in your personal and professional opinion) that this idea will work well and give us lots of profit?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 2, 2012 at 1:03 am

Firstly, let me say how great it is to see a younger generation of entrepreneurs getting into the scrap metal industry. You may strike it big with this business, and you may not; Don’t be afraid to work hard, and if it doesn’t work out… well, it doesn’t work out. Worst case, at least you’ll have something to write about in college essays, or on resumes when you’re looking for internships. Best case, you won’t need any of those things because you are the owner of a successful business.

The most important connection you have if you decide to go on with this business (Which I think has significant potential) will be your ability to legally remove the refrigerants via your friend’s father’s HVAC certifications. Without this type of certification your business will not be standing on legitimate legal grounds.

The business will be profitable if you can get into contact with as many HVAC companies as possible. Chances are you already have significant competition.

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Christian Matthew Embler March 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Alrighty, Thank you so very much for all of this info! You have helped alot!

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Erik September 22, 2012 at 3:10 am

It is a great idea. Spread flyers out to different Hvac supply houses and spread the word of how old you are. And what you are going to use the money for… IE college

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Billyzeke March 2, 2012 at 12:35 am

I just found out that those radioators have more copper in them than that thin aluminum filter around the tubes ! The copper is twice the weight of that aluminum and it’s easy to reamove once you saw off the turned ends ! Just use any heavy blade and score the aluminum until you see the copper shine use heavy blade screwdriver to pry open the aluminimu off the copper tube then just pry the tube up !
Theres 42 copper tubes in small window units large 15 thou to 25 thou btu have thicker tubes but weigh more plus the windings inthe fan motor have 2- 5 lbs of copper to remove them just cut off one half of windings place the other half over any vice or opening to steady it use a punch and hammer to clen knock out the other windings through the steel wrapping ! Then put the steel and aluminum and copper seperate and one ac will pay you $25 – $50 way more on your central untis !

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Ann March 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I have a window air conditioning unit that just died. I need to get rid of it as it is an eyesore in our backyard, however I don’t just want to throw it away because I know the copper and aluminum is worth money. I don’t want to just release it into the air, as I know it is illegal and bad for the environment. How do we safely collect the freon so that we can disassemble the unit? Is special equipment needed? We know nothing about this, so the more detailed you can be with your instructions the better. Thanks.

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm

You need very expensive equipment and a special HVAC certificate. Unfortunately, you really have no legal way to salvage the copper and aluminum without these two things.

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shane November 14, 2013 at 10:56 am

Window units hold less than EPA requirements for recovery there areports manufactured onto them for checking freon charge or recovering freon, they do not apply to the rules, of the clean air act, especially, if you happens to notice one day that one of the neighboring kids, was trying to shoot the Birds off of it with their B.B. guns, because it was pooping all over your clean unit, they missed, bird, the, window, And musta hit the copper lines and it scared the kid so, that they ran off and didn’t tell till guilt eat em up inside, and they runaway to Mexico……15 yrs certified in Heat and air, and man, I’ve seen grown people accidentally do the same thing…..I’ve patched up my fair sha4re of B.B. induced leaks on every style of equipment out there. The good thing is, the only thing in the freon that the EPA had to get involved in Our industry for is the chlorine….(cfc’s) chloroflourocarbons. The oil is mineral oil or sometimes polyoester oil, neither is harmful, and actually in the right amounts, make great fertilizer, because its all natural. And too minimal in amount to be harmful to the environment. As of 2014, freon with chlorine will no longer be sold in A/c supply houses.

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Ann March 2, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I had someone at an A/C repair shop tell me that since a window unit doesn’t contain enough freon to violate the law about releasing it into the atmosphere and that I could just drill a screw into the copper line and let it seep out over 24 hours. Do you know if this is true?

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Daryl June 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I am a heating and cooling mechanic and EPA certified for refrigerants, the tech that told you that is wrong. We are allowed the deminmis which is basically the freon in our gauge hoses. It is a hefty fine to release the refrigerant.

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joe March 10, 2012 at 5:05 am

hey youd be the guy to answer this .. the metal condenser , the heavy black cyclnder , what the hell is in it am i getting screwed selling it as is , or is there somthing inside that dam thing?

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Chris A March 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Thanks for posting this. I went to apply for a refrigeration job and this was all i basically needed to know. This site was very helpful and i learned how to do it easily

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm

That is wonderful to hear, thanks for sharing!

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Rick G March 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I have cut off the end plates of the condenser, how do I remove the copper tubes from the fins?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm

use a very sharp knife, and cut down the length of the tube. Grab the copper line with some vice grips, and rip them out of the aluminum fins. This generally works pretty good. If you want, try setting the depth of a circular saw to cut along the length of the copper line without cutting the tube.

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Jackson March 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Is this just the “Crackheads Guide” to destroying perfectly good A/C units costing businesses thousands, to by $30 bucks worth of dope??

Spotts Bros Furnace Co.
109 W.Kiowa
Fort Morgan, Co
(970) 867-7414

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Sorry Spotts, I think you’ve got the wrong idea.

Every HVAC worker has to dispose of old or broken HVAC units as part of their job. If they follow this guide, then instead of paying to dispose of their valuable metals, they can recycle their units to make extra cash after a job is completed. Every air conditioning/recycling company in the country, if not the world, uses a procedure just like this one in order to recycle their materials efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way.

If you are angry about the thieves who steel air conditioners, I can assure you they cause just as many problems for recycling companies as they do for others. Just know that for every air conditioner that is stolen, there are 100′s getting recycled legitimately. Unfortunately, that is the way of the world; A few bad apples ruin the bunch.

If you have a problem with “Crackheads” I suggest you get ahold of the Fort Morgan Police Department. They will be happy to record any incidences, and send an alert out to the local scrap yards for suspicious activity. If you have any questions about how to recycle your air conditioners, I would be happy to help you out.

For more information, read Why I Hate Metal Theft.

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Scrapping to Make a Living April 15, 2012 at 1:07 am

just cause i sell scrap metal doesnt make me a “crackhead”. doesnt Spotts sell their old A/c units for scrap?

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Chuck Elledge July 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

Jackson
The problem with theft is a big one and legitimate scrappers and recyclers are the first to be angry and alarmed – do you think we want out livelihood jeopardized by these criminals? Or are you angry that you have some competition for recycling units that you think should be strictly yours? I noticed you’re a furnace company so I imagine you also do A/C work. So which is it Jackson? Real indignation or just a scared businessman who can’t hold his own in the business arena? We don’t install ‘em buddy…we just remove them when they are worn out and replaced…and we do it legally. Before I got my license I had a local refrigeration guy remove all my freon for me. He did it for the freon and a small travel charge if I couldn’t get the unit to him. Maybe I should condemn you because my neighbor was scammed by a HVAC guy who used the carbon monoxide meter scam to fake him into thinking he had a bad heat exchanger and almost sold him a $8000 system until I called my friend in for a second opinion with a working meter. Turned out he had no CO problem at all and his furnace was fine – just needed a cleaning. Because the HVAC industry is as bad as the car repair industry should I call you a crook too? Get a grip Jackson.

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joe March 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

yea you should be happy people jackin them thats what like 8,00 dolllar job

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crack head that richer than you lmfao March 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm

idaf

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Dave April 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm

To get rid of the freon legally I searched in the yellow pages for freon recovery and contacted a place two towns over. They said call them 20 minutes before I come and they will recover the freon for free.

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Cody April 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I work with for my dad hvac company. He doesn’t really care anything scrapping the old units, so he let’s me do it and keep the money. He used to just give it away so the shop wouldnt be so messy. Now that i’ve bought a house, I thought I would do it for extra cash. Last year was the first time I ever sold scrap. It was all copper and copper coils. It end up being around $2600. We sold it to an individual and he said the real money was in compressors and motors. He said if I burn the motors to get the varnish off the copper, the copper would be #1. I was wondering if he is right or if I’m wasting my time burning them. I’ve probably scrapped about 30 motors so far and still have a bunch to do.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 15, 2012 at 1:01 am

It sounds like you have the right idea, but I suggest you stop selling to an individual and start shopping around for better scrap yard prices. Check out my write up on getting paid the best scrap metal prices.

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Cody April 17, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I just called the scrap yard and these are the prices they gave me. # 1 was 3.05, #2 2.80, copper aluminum coils 1.15 and compressors 8 cents. I was wondering at those prices should I try and break the compressors and coils. I’m going to say I have at least 1 ton worth of compressors and probably 600lbs of coils. I also called another scrap yard but I believe the girl I talked to didn’t know what she was saying. She gave me a price for#1 at 2.60 and #2 2.30 and the coils were 40 cents.

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Cody April 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Oh and they both said you have to have a hvac license to sell the coils. I was wondering if that was common or if that’s just around here. It’s gotten to where people are stealing units out of empty houses and buildings

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lary April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm

While all of this information is very useful or amusing, I am curious to know if anyone can break it down into more usable numbers.

For example, an average 5TON HVAC Roof Unit will yield:
X pounds of copper
Y Pounds of aluminum
Z Pounds of steel.

That would be appreciated, especially considering that you could factor the scrap value of your old unit into the cost of the new unit. So, if I spent 4-6 days over a month breaking down my old unit, I could expect to recover how much $$?

Thanks!

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm

The only way to figure out how much metal there is in your AC unit is to tear it apart yourself. Each model is different, and there are even differences in composition within models depending on how it was installed and when it was manufactured.

If you want to guess how much the thing is worth in scrap, use the prices in the upper right hand corner of this webpage as a too; For a conservative approximation, assume the air conditioner is 4% copper by weight, and 96% steel.

And it will not take you 4-6 days to tear down, maybe an hour or so (at most, 3 hours). You dont need to be meticulous about the operation; just grab a sledge hammer and have at it!

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Eric May 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I think what he is asking, (and what I’d like to know too) is that, is it worth it for some Joe, who has one unit, and zero experience, to break it down and sell it for scrap? Of course the amounts of metal in each unit will vary. But I have a broken, outdoor AC unit in my back yard that I want to get rid of. After I tear it apart, will it be worth roughly $25? $200? $500? What is everybody’s definition of “profitable”? If at the end of the day, I tear it apart and make $35 – $50 bucks….then I’ll probably just have someone pick it up for free. Please advise. A range of estimates would be INCREDIBLY helpful here. Thank you!

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jay May 1, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Hello, does anyone know how much 1/2 inch copper tubing weighs per foot? Also how much 2 inch copper pipe weighs per foot? Thanks!

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rob May 5, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Hey I got this radiator and this is my first time,to make more money do I separate the copper from the aluminum? Meaning the copper running through the radiator,do I have to get it out with a sawzall or just leave it inside the aluminum? Thanx for any help

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anyonomous May 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Hi I found 2 big industrial ac units today first time I’ve come across ac units and I took all the motors and compressor units out of them plus the copper and brass and insulated wire and I was happy with that until I get home and come here as a curiosity. Just to see what you have to say about scrapping ac units as I have used this site as a guide for almost all the things I have scrapped and thanks to it I now no longer need to look as I now know the bones of it all but as I said I looked on here out of curiosity and lo and behold I realised that I had left behind the “money makers” as you put it and had not taken the copper\ally radiators well I raced back to where I had been working on them and luckily no other scrappers had touched them and I got the radiators but had it not been for here I would have missed out on them so nice one man cheers! And I would also say that this site is great for the begginer who knows little or nothing about the scrap game it defo helps keep you right and not get ripped off when your starting out as I have found that scrap yards(not all but definatley some)will take advantage of someone who dosent know the terminology and so forth involved or differant grades of various metals etc. so cheers again!

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ScrapMetalJunkie May 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad I could help!

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Dave May 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I have about a dozen and a half A/C’s. I found a place that will remove the refrigerant for $8 a unit. 1) Is that a good price and 2) Is it still worth it? What’s an average size A/C worth? I’m guessing not worth so much on refrigerators/freezers.

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Robert May 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I have a few old units that I want to sell, however I am told I need a letter or some kind of certificate to sell the coils? can you help?

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Eric May 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Great website!! I have an old outdoor AC unit, and was going to post it on Craigs list for someone to haul away. Then I did a quick search on if there is any value to it, and I ended up here! My question is this. I see a lot of posts regarding how much money people are getting per pound on the different components. I would like to know what is the total dollar amount, that a scrap AC unit could fetch? I know it will vary, but typically is it about $20 in scrap? $100? $500? It is a big outdoor unit. Thanks in advance!

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Patrick May 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I very much appreciate your compilation of extremely useful information. You’ve inspired me greatly, and do have a question:

How much does the average HVAC guy charge for removing the freon?

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alex May 28, 2012 at 3:05 am

It isnt clear yet, whats the most cost effective way to get rid of the freon? Im tearing one down and am stuck…

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anyonomous May 28, 2012 at 7:14 am

Is it worth ripping the aluminium fans off the copper lines that make up the radiator? I have 2 copper-aluminium rads that weigh 15 kilo each I estimate that the tiny mount of steel + aluminium makes up perhaps 5 kilo on both of them which would leave 10 kilo of copper if completley cleaned I notice that the ally fins are not acually welded on but are stacked and it is not to difficult to peel them one by one off is there a quicker way to remove the ally than that or is that how I would need to do it? Is it even worth breaking a rad down(obv ill be cleaning it of ferrous materials regardless)into sepperate metals or shud I sell it as is? Any input would be appriciated cheers

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anyonomous May 28, 2012 at 7:24 am

When I said “fans” in the above comment I actually meant fins

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anyonomous June 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hey jackson if this is such a crackheads site then why are YOU reading it then….?, Hmmmmm….? Not every one who scraps steals what they sell in fact those of us who do it honestly such as finding(and I do mean finding)it buying begging it or trade waste left after a man finishes his job plumbing or whatever as long as its honest, we actually are doing the community and subsequently the whole world a massive favour by recycling materials that might other wise have ended up as land-fill so if its done honestly and legally then its good for the pocket and good for the planet and everyones happy so where’s the problem? For you to try and tar all scrappers with the same brush just because of a rogue minority shows(in my opinion)extremely narrow mindedness on your part , for example, if we follow your logic as it appears to be then because some car drivers are joy riding all on the roads must be viewed with suspicion….your bang out of order with your comment pal most of us are hard working honest people either doing what we can to get by (LEGALLY) or we are working out of a desire to be more ecologically sound in our life styles and either one of these motivations is commendable.

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Trickrat June 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

We just replaced our upstairs central unit. I was looking at the picture of the coils. I took the coils to the scrap yard, but I needed a license to sell them. So you’re saying the coils are ALL copper covered in aluminum? If so, it’s more profitable to shave the aluminum & sell the copper, right?

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sharon June 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Do you have to take out an airconditioning unit out of a car before it enters the junk yard. Same questions about air bags.

If the scrap yard takes in air conditioning unit in as part of the car do they have to drain unit prior to them shipping?

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Cody fry June 12, 2012 at 5:31 am

I had a ? For you I have a window ac unit and I see a big black compressor and it says high voltageWhat do I do. I have cut the wires to it to be safe. So can u please give me the all clear to take this apart I dont want to hurt myself lol.

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ScrapMetalJunkie June 19, 2012 at 3:40 am

No you’re fine, go ahead and take it apart.

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BoutToScrapIt June 28, 2012 at 2:41 am

Went in person to a local scrap yard and inquired about selling 2 central/handler units and was told that i need documentation….blah blah blah…yea i got that. My question is why did they tell me that they no longer accept them broken down, only whole in-tact units and this goes for window units as well? Unfortunately they only pay 4 cents per pound for them. Does this sound right? They are citing Florida Law and I can’t seem to find that information anywhere to verify. Has anyone else run into this?

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Quick Question June 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Hi. my Ac unit broke outside and i got it replaced but not by a company my friend did it for me and i went to try recycle it but they said i need a licence and i dont have one does my friend… i there anyway i can sell it? by the way i live in Dallas Texas

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ScrapMetalJunkie July 3, 2012 at 12:27 am

If you disassembled it to the point where they couldn’t tell it was an AC unit, than you may be able to sell it. But the point of the law is to stop unlicensed salvagers from harming the environment by releasing refrigerants and it should be respected.

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S.J.Jakes October 18, 2013 at 8:30 am

Dear ScrapMetalJunkie
Firstly, your first sentence and your second are in disagreement and directly controvert themselves. Your first sentence seems to make sense and adhere to your other dozens upon dozens of comments and statements I’ve read by forwarding your agenda or beliefs that scrapping is a good and worthwhile and honorable endeavor…you even encourage kids to take it up just several posts back. Of your two statements, this first is the one I would agree with myself, and hope to be true in an ideal world. Anyway, your first sentence encourages scrapping, even to the point of fooling people or getting around ["to the point THEY couldn't tell..."] overly restrictive or unfair laws that clearly take away the liberty of individuals (in my state you are not allowed to sell ANY copper arising from your own home or own belongings, period, without a special license under the suppositions that: A) someone else is doing the same thing but stealing to do it, & B) there are more bad people stealing than good people that are not, or at least are enough bad people stealing to abridge the good peoples rights). It’s as if your first statement is Libertarian and encourages dealing in scrap metals, along with all else I’ve read on this site of yours, while your second endorses a bigger government and/or police State with just more and more laws to “protect” us.” I’ll go out on a limb and say that the majority of the people posting on this site are going to agree with your first statement, which is nice in theory and in a better world, yet it’s your second statement that’s unfortunately you admitting the truth for the first time, and de-legitimizing pretty much the rest of this, your web-site. As per usual, like the “cant-spell-or-use-English-red-State-got-his-sisters-underwear-down-in-the-back-woods-country-bumpkin” who calls himself “george”, above, even admits: there are enough few people breaking the decent laws we have, unapologetically, to justify (in bureaucrats’ minds) the writing of more and more bad, extraneous laws….bad laws that you “respect” that limit down to an impossibility your livelihood and reason for this site, which I would think you would also “respect”. So which is it? The laws being written hand over fist throughout the country are such that a vastly increasing number of the people here on your site MUST be law-breakers, since in many cases that law is stupid and self-serving. “Scrapping”, legally, will tomorrow be as popular a trade as seamstress or haberdasher has become today. Somehow this site IS attracting more commenter’s who appear (I’m just saying ostensibly) to fit the one posters’ harsh characterization as “Crackheads”, through their English and how they phrase questions alone. I was enthusiastic about the resale of metals of my own or that are given to me, until I understood the laws in my area, and how you are assumed a crackhead thief until proven otherwise. If I were you I would first, and above all, tell people here to check the laws first: new laws, by-laws, Federal, State, County, Municipal laws, EPA laws, and still other laws in their area before bothering doing ANYTHING suggested on this site.

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Jose July 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Hi,

I recover refrigerants from all types of equipment and I have the opportunity to recover 750 window units but customer asked if I will take the oil out also and I told him only what comes out with the refrigerant. Am I to remove the compressor and drain the oil or is it the scrapers job? I have sent emails and called EPA and left messages but i have not gotten any info.

Thank you,

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S.J.Jakes October 18, 2013 at 8:46 am

You were trained and even you don’t know, and nobody else including the author has replied even though he has replied before and after your comment. It all goes to show what a grey area all of this is. You could even GET a response from the EPA and still be breaking some State law or local ordinance, or vice-versa, among many different bodies of law. Accept the fact that you are an ethical and moral person willing to break some stupid laws or don’t bother “scrapping”.

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Beau July 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Hey scrap man! The condensers are filled with some kind of oil or soomething. It isn’t freon, is it? And how do I drain them completely……….of course as easy as possible? LOL. Will the scrap yard take them if they are oily? Or do they need to be totally emptied?

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dnt demo July 7, 2012 at 1:01 am

Hi ive been around scrap my entire life, here recently ive learned about the copper in the ac compressers. Ive taken the time to cut up around 50 or so and learned there is quiet abit of copper in one, but also too copper coated aluminum in the older ones(mainly the red and orange ones). My question to you is there any place that will give electric motor pricing or(sealed units). Over shred pricing? thanks.

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NJ in NJ July 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I have a 3 ton outside a/c unit that has been sitting for 2 years. I cannot break it down myself. Do you know if any companies will come out & buy it from me? I live in South Jersey. Thanks!

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Homeowner July 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I have a 3 ton condenser that died. The HVAC guy said it had a pinhole somewhere in the coils. He recaptured the freon in the lineset and disconnected everything. I was thinking I could scrap the condenser and make some extra money so I told him to leave it.

Today I dismantled the unit, tore it down piece by piece. I cut away the copper and put it in a box. I’d say I have maybe 2 pounds of #1, a pound or so of #2 and about a 1/2 pound of brass. The copper/fin tubing section weighs maybe 10 pounds. I haven’t touched the compressor.

So that means about $15-$20 for the scrap. It took me about 45 minutes to break it down. The cost for going to and from the scrap yard is about $9. That means I net about $6-$11 for 45 minutes of work and another 30 minutes going to the scrap yard and back. Now, if the unit had freon in it and I released that into the air and got caught, subtract $10,000.00 for my efforts.

Where is all this valuable scrap I read about?

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Throwing Copper August 17, 2012 at 4:48 am

I haven’t done many, maybe eight or nine. But the cu/al coils have generally weighed in at quite a bit more than 10 lbs. I’ve got a larger one sitting out back that probably weighs 50+. That one is the heaviest I have ever run across though. Still, I think you may be underestimating the weight of it. On a bad day, that alone should bring more than $20. The compressor should weigh 50 lbs or more. Add the copper, the big, heavy fan motor and scrap shred steel, it’s not likely to be below $50. The worst one I ever had brought more than that.

Of course if you are in area without competition, you can get taken to the cleaners. Some dealers don’t pay crap for motors or sealed units. Some pay crap, or won’t even buy the cu/al cores.

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S.J.Jakes October 18, 2013 at 9:05 am

Your right, there just isn’t. There is only any $ to be made in amassing many units together and doing this sort of thing for a large or main part of your time. The areas of 1) refrigerant reclamation, & 2) accepting other peoples’ recyclable metals are both increasingly covered by very restrictive laws. Actually, scratch that: your not even allowed to recycle your own in increasingly many places. If you think such laws aren’t in your area, they either actually are (as in Federal), or there will be very soon. It’s “legal” under the right circumstances to sell pot out of a store to certain people…yet the Feds still come marching in confiscating the goods all the time. Going, going gone are the days when this can be done as any kind of “side” thing. In the very near future, barring the formation of some huge semi-precious metals’ black market or underground, which will also be illegal, only a relatively few people who reclaim/recycle things of reasonable value will remain, and they will be those who do it professionally which will mean certs and licenses galore.

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CalcityRecyclers August 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Error: You noted Copper #1 as copper WITH soldered joints and copper #2 as WITHOUT solder. Isn’t that flip flopped?

I buy a lot of scrap from the surrounding area and I’ve been seeing a spike in A/C units lately. It’s extremely unfortunate when I get people that bring me stuff like this without cleaning it. Management won’t hire someone to clean it after we buy it and scrappers don’t bother with it so there is a lot of money loss happening here. If it’s not broken down I’m forced to buy it at scrap steel prices which on average for right now is $7 depending on the size of the unit.

I had one gentleman come in with a single unit and even though I’m not supposed to broke down his stuff with him before I bought it. He had a middle sized window unit and it was just a basic breakdown. Separated the copper tubes, Al radiators, and the rest I weighed as scrap steel. He went from 7.36 to 24.72. That wasn’t even fully broken down. To me if a scrapper slows down and takes their time doing it right it’s a win win. They get more money and we do too. There have even been times where I turn scrappers away instead of ripping them off because logically I dont make anymore money that way either.

The more you know….

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vince August 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

this is a dedicataded app painter from 159 painters
my name is vincent uhlmer my number 702 503 2476 if i can help in any way let me know

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Dale August 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I just had my old 4.5 Ton Central AC unit replaced. The old unit was left behind so I put it on Craigslist for free and within an hour I had over 40 inquires of people willing to pick it up. What is the ball park figure for the scrap metal price of a 4.5 Ton AC including airhandler, coils, compressor and line set. Separated and unseparated? Would it be around $50 or closer to $500?

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joe August 23, 2012 at 7:09 am

Hi i am self employed. I do concessions in summer and make good money but in fall winter i am kinda dry on cash. Mainly looking for some extra income in the winter months dec thru feb.
I know this may sound kinda weird but i was watching TV and i seen this guy make money doing scrapping and im looking for a way here in st louis. I know typically alot of people go around and scrap junk they find off streets and use that but this guy went into a place and bought their scrap metal (sheets of aluminium, scraps, copper whatever they had) and then loaded up his van and hauled it to the scrapyard and got Paid and made a decent profit. I was kinda looking into that route of scrapping. I mean i dont mind getting dirty and dont mind loading up my trailer full of metal and willing to pay for it and haul it to the scrapyard if i found the right place. Where do you think i can start searching for places like this to make some money? Im not looking to root through garbage (even though thats free) Im willing to invest some of my dollars into buying some scraps and doing the legwork (hauling) to the yard for some bucks. If anyone has any experience with this or knows of certain kind of places please fill me in. Im trying to provide for my family. I lost a business and had to file chapter 7 bankruptcy. Im starting fresh. I do concessions in spring and summer but fall winter time im out of work. pinks314 on yahoo thanks in advance and god bless yall

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Christina August 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hey my question is my compressor is orange-ish red. I noticed that everyone has said theirs is black. Does that mean mine is old like really old and not worth anything?? I am new to scraping in fact I have never done anything. Lol Thanks for the help and great info I was able to tear down my unit from not knowing anything to being somewhat educated about this. :)

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

It sounds like the compressor may be made of brass/copper? Or it could just be very rusty. Either way, you can test it using the Spark Test.

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shane November 14, 2013 at 10:23 am

Hey scrapmetal junkie, just found your site, I live in Oklahoma, and have read all post down to here, just wanna let you knw I’m , certified EPA clean air, Sections,608(residential&commercial), &609 (motor vehicle), licensed Heating, ventilation, &air-conditioning (HVAC), sales installs, service. Small towns, USA. So you have helped me, because winters are slower on work, in my area, and summer’s boom, so scraping gets me through winter moenths bills, and Christmas, by saving up all units that I replace, so, do all the other, 23 companies around me do, for bonuses, anyways since I know now I’ll legitimately gain on avg 10-20 per unit by doing complete tear down, of compressor motor (that’s the black and orange refrig pump yes i said Orange,mainly in Trane* units, then, I’ll jump in here from time to time and help you back. On top of the orange questions, just paint, by the way, the freon oil doesn’t have to be recovered and is 1of 2 types-1 is mineral oil, the other is polyoester both type1s make great fertilizer for compost piles, trees, shrubs, very natural oils you reuse in your own back yard, in saifme way you’d use fertilizers, not too much, not too little. Now, the freon R_22, phased out in 2007, and Will no longer be available to buy in 2014, or added to any equipment that used it. Most res. Holds only 4-8 lbs in entirety depending on length of linesets, and size of equipment. According to EPA standards, CHLORINE, the only part of freon, or tri-chloroflourocarbons (cfc’s) is the molecule that will molecule, for molecule eat stratosphere molecs..aka…ozone. so, EPA rules state if there’s a ‘leak’ on a/c equipment, if no more than 5lbs a year leak out, then, If leak can’te found and fixed, then it is OK, to leave equipment operating and top off on a yearly basis. Any new equipment for the last 5yrs Will probably have the new refrig. R-410a, which is Puron, not freon, and doesnt contain chlorine, nor does any replacement freon, such as nu-22, or mO88. Without chlorine to rise up and eat holes in the ozone, which most never reaches, and more was let out into atmosphere, during 1 spaceshuttle launch, than ever Woulda been let out of ac equipment, for another 20 yrs, it’s safe to say read your equipment stickers and data plates….they tell us how much of what kind, is in units, if It’sa window unit, they hold less than 4lbs, If customer ‘develops’ a leak man made with yard tools, then no Licensed person or company out there can respond in time to catch escaping freon, so there’s nothing that anybody can do or fine you for, or turn homeowners in, or even save you from losing, and I get service calls all the time for roofing nails falling into units while fan is running, chainsaws trying to clear brush from around outdoor units to weedeaters slinging sharp rocks, to customers trying to clean indoor coil and move the small capillary tubes that break off too easily, even old wires or rodent chewed wires coming loose while unit’s running and arcing a hole in copper tubing, cooper rubbing against something over time causes holes or leaks…..I think everyone gets what I’m saying…..feel free to edit and repost on main forum. Any questions about freon and what happens to running mechanical equipment goes hand n hand as normal wear and tear, that’s why Heat and air companies try to sell everybody the yearly spring and fall preventive maintenance, plans, they SAVE YOU MONEY! buy preventive maintenance plans if your local company offers it, it’s not just a sales pitch, it benefits both parties, where you get discounted parts,labor, and no costly breakdowns in the worst times. Feel free to edit what ya need to, and repost on main forum, as your own. <>> It better by gosh not be stolen, I won’t touch it, I’m a legitimate God fearing, family loving, Crackhead, and I ain’t got time or need to be in jail, sober, because of anything stolen…..!!!!

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Steven E Plowman September 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm

How much are the window units worth as scrap after you take them all apart?

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm

It all depends on the unit and location, but it can be between 7-15 dollars per unit.

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Jeremy September 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I have to get my evaporator coil replaced in my household AC unit. I don’t know the size of the unit off the top of my head, but it is only a townhouse so probably nothing too big. I was going to ask to keep the old coil, but after reading here I am not sure it would be worth the effort for me to tear it apart? What is a rough estimate of how much money the metal in the evaporator would be worth? I know prices vary, so a very rough estimate is fine.

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CalcityRecyclers September 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Well I know for my shop if you scrap the ACR’s with just removing the steel siding we buy them at $1/lb which if you take the small one up front and the large one in back it can be an easy 10-15lbs and thats for a small to medium size window unit. If its a Central AC unit you should expect about double that weight.

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Tony September 23, 2012 at 2:44 am

Love your site! I’m tearing down my old window unit tomorrow, was going to throw it away but gonna try to break it down. Thanks for all the good tips.

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Carnallwilliamsjr September 28, 2012 at 5:01 am

I cut the ends off with the cooper . ? Do I take the shawlif and cut between the metal to get the rest of the copper or do I just take it in with the ends cut off

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calcityrecycler October 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Just wondering if you could include any photos of the inside of the questionable compressors so we can get a general idea of what we will be getting ourselves into if we decide to start cutting into these beasts. I think seeing that will help a lot of people figure out if taking the time to cut them open will be worth the time and exactly how far they want to do the tear down. Some cases if you have the setup full breakdown might be worth it. I just had a gentleman come in with 2570 lbs of compressors and before purchasing them explained what he actually had before I even considered buying.

By the way, I have been referring many of my starting scrappers that come through my locations to your website and have noticed that by the second or third loads they are more knowledgeable than some of my more seasoned veteran scrappers so great job on the site.

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John Doe October 14, 2012 at 2:52 am

How do compressers sell for at a junkyard?

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Des1006 October 26, 2012 at 9:58 pm

One thing, The freon is hazardous to human health. The long term affects can be lung disease and throat cancer. Especially if you smoke. Freon, when burned, turns into phosgene gas which is a known carcinogin. If you get AC units regularly, make friends with an HVAC tech who has certs.

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leonard October 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm

phosgene gas is chemical warefare gas , will mess you up good! also “certs” ? all you need is a set of gauges and vacumme pump and container to store the freon in. then you take the freon to some one with recycling equipment or to hazardious waste facility. epa fine is $10,000 for each instance of releasing freon intentionaly and they $5,000 for turning someone in for intentionaly releasing freon. i am certified by the iowa DNR to “de-manufacture” apliances, but do not have a permit. that would require toms of money for a bond etc… the certification cost me $184 and 1 day in class. i took it because the guy at local recycling center/landfill transfer ststion told me i would have to have it to get the computers stuff he gets paid $10 each to take. at class the dnr person who runs that part of the dnr told me that iowa had no regulations for computer equip. that means i do not need any certification at all to scrap out computer equipment. and that was over 5 years ago, and just wasted money as i have yet to get even a print cartridge from the guy. we had a big flood a few years back and the dnr told all the scrap yards to forget the law and crush all the refridgeration equipment, untill the flood was cleaned up. so the dnr told them to violate federal law!!! and no one was finned even 1 cent.stupid law anyway. there has always been a hole in the ozone layer that grows and shrinks in size and always will be, even is there is never any cfc’s released again, nor any cows burp or fart. so i recomend that if you scrap any refridgerat containing equip, get an empty freon tank and vaccume pump, then write the modle and ser. number of each unit that comes in and note that it was empty, and if you do release any gasses do it where you can not be seen. the thermostat tube has a small line going to the bulb and will release contents very slowly if it gets cut. “hint hint”!

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Des1006 October 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Hmmm…set of gauges for each refrigerant – $200/ea, vacuum pump – $1000, empty tank – $150, Tank Scale – $300, cost to get rid of full tank $100, Cost of fine if you get caught – $10,000 and/or 5 years in prison. Cost of making friends with an HVAC tech – 1 case of beer. Do as you wish folks. It your butt, not mine. Oh, by the way, what’s your name? I could use the money.

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leonard November 1, 2012 at 1:52 am

thats alot of money there. $150 for an empty tank? i see them in the trash all the time, hvac tech’s throw empty ones away. so if you pick one out of trash its free!!! you just need one set of gauges, i know several hvac tech’s and they all cary around just 1 set of gauges, and i have 3 family members that have hvac license in 3 diffrent states. i have a friend that had a federal judge sieze 1.75 mil from bank acount and 2.5 mil fine on totaly unrelated mater. that was 20 years ago and they havent got 1 cent of the 2.5 yet, and he is walking around with money in his pocket. just like the metal buyers, always saying to sell them your gold and platnium bearing stuff and leave it to the professionals. i dont blame them 1 bit, i wouldnt want a regular guy getting all that gold and not let the millionaires have it all, just bring ME your gold and silver jewelry, and ill pay you 10 cents on the dollar like the guys on the commercials tell you to do. i needed money one time to tide me over untill payday. took the pawnshop a 2 month old size 11 14k. harley davidson stamper ring with the box and recipt for $750.00 and they wanted to buy it for $35.00, they would have put it in the display case with no less than $700.00 price tag.
and i never stated that i had ever released any gases into the atmosphere, only stated that if a certain line was to get cut, that the gasses would slowly escape, unlike when a repairman tries to add freon to a freezer and there is a rust hole in the line that sprays oil all over the inside of the freezer with freon escaping like crazy. see guy do that and was no relation to me. and some people do not think things threw before they do something, so if warned in advance to hide their actions from view, maybe they will.
off subject, but how is a vote for the lesser of 2 evils not still a vote for evil? and in what sane world is a 14 year old boy that throws a rock at a tank of an INVADING ARMY, invading HIS COUNTRY a TERRORIST! my ancestors who were at lexington green would call that boy a patriot!!

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Des1006 November 1, 2012 at 2:20 am

Not really sure where you were going with the rest of it but, the fridge guy obviously doesn’t know his trade. If there is no Freon in the unit, there is a leak. As far as the empty bottles, those are one time use only. The only way any supplier will accept used freon is in a recovery bottle. They are painted grey and yellow. All bottles must be marked with the refrigerant they contain AND they cannot be mixed. (ie. you cannot put R-22 and R-500 in the same bottle)

Russell Wake February 1, 2013 at 10:05 am

Hi we have just finished a job where we took out a load of the air con units we have broken them all done and scrapped in the various parts but have been left with a load of the black compressor units, have been told we would get a better price for them if they were drained – could you give me any ideas on how to do this ?

Thanks

Russell

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Des1006 February 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm

You are correct. You will get even more money if you cut them up and get to the rich copper center. Best way I’ve found to drain them requires 3 things. A 5 gal. pail, a drill, and a grate or wire rack from an old oven or bar b que. Carefully tip the compressor upside down, drill a hole in the very bottom, then set it right side up on the grate on top of the bucket for about 24 hrs. There is one caveat to this though. The reason you are going to get more money is that you are keeping the refrigerant OIL. Now you need to dispose of this. The only way I know of to get rid of refrigerant OIL is to take it to an HVAC contractor. You may or may not be charged for this. I know of no other way to get rid of refrigerant OIL.

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S.J.Jakes October 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

Des1006: A couple posts back you were “oh so smart and enlightened” talking about collecting the rat money off snitching a guy you accused of releasing refrigerant…and how exactly is it your not going to release refrigerant into the atmosphere, drilling, as you say, into a hermetically sealed compressor, professor McGenius? How are you going to do anything with a hermetically sealed system that has no evacuation/charge ports?

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new scrapper February 19, 2013 at 5:56 am

Are the radiators worth more or less after you cut off the copper tubing on each side of the radiator?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 1, 2013 at 5:37 am

Cutting the copper tubes off doesn’t change the value at all. But cutting off the any steel plates/contamination will increase the price significantly.

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Mitch February 27, 2013 at 8:20 pm

My father owns an hvac business. I hate busting down units more than anything. The condensers aren’t so bad because you just have to remove the coil, the compressor and sometimes an accumulator. Apart from the fan. Easy. I hate air handlers though. I hate cutting up coils and I hate separating blower wheels from the motor. I’m only 17 by the way. They pay me 8 dollars an hour and the thing that pisses me off is that with the amount of systems that come in we’re making around 700 bucks a day off of these things. And I’m not even getting 10%. We scrap the WHOLE system though. I just feel like these people are lowballing me

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leonard March 1, 2013 at 5:45 am

you are an hourly employee, and at 17 you are making a good wage at 8 dollars an hour. i sugest you sit down with pencil and paper to work some math. then make a decision as to wether or not you want to be self employed. you could offer to buy the stuff from your dad and scrap it out and haul it in yourself. you would need tools, a truck, a place to do the work etc…

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Andy March 28, 2013 at 12:39 am

Nice article

I am an hvac tech and so is my brother. The money that my brother made from selling used equipment to the scrap guy pretty much paid for his BWM! Depending on the season, but he typically sell 15 units a month at an average of $40 per unit which equal to $600. Since the economy is getting hit, most companies are getting greedy and required us to bring the unit back in the shop.

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Andy March 28, 2013 at 12:41 am

Just out of curious,

how much do you guys get by scraping a condensor, evaporator coil, or furnace?

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Braden May 8, 2013 at 3:09 am

So do scrap yards ever as you for a licence to let out the refrigerant, or what. By the way, I’m 12 years old and scraping is my new hobby. I just scraped a household AC Unit and a water cooler leaving me with two compressors.

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Braden May 8, 2013 at 3:10 am

Sorry I meant to say ask in the first sentence.

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Jim June 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm

The reason why its a fine for releasing freon into the air from an airconditioning unit is that its ruining the atmosphere.Ozone is getting depleted and thats why theres more skin cancer than ever before.So if you care about anyone else in this world you better evacuate the freon instead of release it into the atmosphere,otherwise the fine is in order.J.B.

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ScrapMetalJunkie June 4, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more Jim, the laws exist for a reason and need to be respected!

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S.J.Jakes October 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

So heart-warmed by these laws are you, SMJ, that you construct a website that can only serve to inform mostly those who break those same laws you adore. All the people who do it exactly the correctly proscribed way are trained to do so, thus already know what their doing, thus don’t need a website like this one. Only the naive, who are the ones who will break the laws, need your web-site. Think about it.

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kevin June 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

I have just acquired a giant ventalation and heating unit from the roof of my factory I work at..it had a huge grid on one end made up of rows of pipes aprox 3″ in dia. It was gas heat..now it looks like copper..its soft like copper..wont rust..but its also magnetic. ? ..im stumped as to what type of an alloy or what this might be?..any help?

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ScrapMetalJunkie June 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I can’t say for certain, but if it looks like copper and is easy to cut than it shouldn’t be magnetic. Use the spark test to help identify the metal, or bring a sample to your nearest scrap yard and ask them to help identify it.

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kenneth June 7, 2013 at 1:47 am

hey there i have a 15000 btu 22v ac it works but its old and not in the most eye pleasing condition, wondering how much i could get for it its 27 wide and about 27 tall and a good 2.5 to 3 feet standing on its back off the ground i have pics of it but i dont know how to post them here any help?

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LUDA June 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm

qhello to all. my situation is very simple i have a 2ton a/c unit i would like to scrap for cash just dont know how to go about it. someone HEEEELLLLLPP.

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heating @ cooling company July 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

dont you know the freon is worht the most to recover in a a/c unit if it is r12 or r22 they dont make it anymore r12 is worth about $10 oz and r22 is worht $1 oz to your heating companys so why not recover the freon only a moron will release it plus it is ilegal to do so i recover it all the time sell it to heating and cooling companys for alot more then that

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Dale July 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

How much for a window unit once you break it down..ScrapMetalJunkie said “It all depends on the unit and location, but it can be between 7-15 dollars per unit.
That hardly seems worth it unless you have dozens of AC units and can take them apart in minutes flat, and even then consider the physical labor involved!!
When you consider that you can get 5 bucks or more for just throwing the whole unit right in the scrap yard, that makes more sense to me, but that’s because I don’t have the luxury getting broken AC units handed to me everyday where I could make a side business of it.

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senseblogger October 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm

OK been scrapping for 6 yaers ! MY 1 question is a/c ccpper tubing always low grade copper like #2?

Or if cleaning it by hand with heavy grit sandpaper and shining it make it #1 bare bright copper!?

In other words remove all outer dark pigmentation and make look light brand new penny!

Thanks for answering!

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TJ December 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

Why anyone would not recover R-134a, R-22 or for that matter R-12 is beyond me, pound for pound the refrigerant is worth more than ALL the scrap you will get from the unit. Salvage an old sealed unit compressor from a fridge, collect a few empty refrigerent 40lb bottles from a heating and cooling company (they will give them to you if you ask) and some creative plumbing you can set yourself up to recover the gas. If your wondering “how do I tap it?” A few specialty hardware stores OR your local heating and cooling company can sell you a tap that you clamp to the tube, then thread a needle valve to pierce the pipe, it will contain a standard low pressure quick connect that allows you to remove the gas. R-12 sells for 80 dollars a pound and heating/cooling companies will practically salivate to get it.

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candycane January 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm

it is easy to see that you have never sold your second hand refrigerant. it takes very expensive recycling machines to remove the oil, water etc… to make sellable refridgerant. if you are a landlord you can use your recovered refridgerant to refill your old and leaky refridgeration equipment. in a sealed system life refridgerators, freezers, airconditioners, and dehumidifiers, you do not ever loose any at all and therefore require refilling a unit unless there is a leak somewhere. and if you do not repair the leak, it will just escape into the air, just as if you cut the line with a saw. my local scrap yard considdered buying such a unit when in the planning stages for their apliance demanufacturing section. i already had my training and there was a long waiting list for them to send their employees to get the training threw the Department of Natural Resources, so i loaned them my book and started the process of getting the zoneing for them and told them my ideas on how to set it up. they decided to forgo the recycling of the refridgerant because of the cost of the equipment. so they pay( transportation costs etc)to get rid of all they recover,it costs them to get rid of it. the equipment is simular to antifreeze recycling equipment. very expensive!! a junk yard can get about $1 per gallon of used antifreeze by selling unrecycled stuff to individuals, but quality is always questionable. i have never heard of a comercial refridgeration service man buying home bottled refridgerant, as there is no guarantee it is not several types mixed, which would ruin his business when his being cheep ruined his customers equipment which would get him in very serious problems with the epa also. if you can design a system the average scrapper can purefy refridgerant with at working man prices, you could make tens of millions of dollars from its sales.

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Milo January 14, 2014 at 7:09 am

I just had my ac/heater unit completely changed and installed for my house and i wanted to now if and what can i sell and what cant be sold at the scrap yard. Its my first time selling metal and I would like some cash back for the purchase i did on the new unit. I somewhat have an idea but ill rather be ready and know what im selling instead of going blind and getting ripped off. I also have a oil drum thats been sitting for years that i was going to make a grill with but it rusted over can i sell it also? Thanks for the help

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Alan January 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Is it worth melting the aluminum of the copper piping?

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 30, 2014 at 9:13 pm

In general, no it is not worth melting the aluminum off the copper piping unless you have a very large quantity. But in small quantities it should be worth your time to cut the aluminum off of the copper pipe using a bandsaw or a table saw, etc.

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matt March 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Hello partner scrapperzzzzz!!!! I have a few questions regarding scrapping a/c units in southwest florida, i recently took in copper from a couple of large units and the guy told me that the cooper was restricted? Unless i had a note from owner.WTF? I haven’t tried bringing in my ac condesers yet. Does.anyoneone know if they would be restricted also? Please help i need info because i was so pissed off i.was about.to reach under my seat lol. What else do i need to.be concered about here in.southwest florida. Thanks

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Rebecca March 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm

We’re a business in Santa Monica, CA who has two units with bad compressors. Is there anyone out there that would recommend a local place I can call to sell them to?

Thanks.

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Joe S. April 15, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I could give a crap about venting r 134a and r410a but PLEASE DON’T VENT R12, R22, AND R500 AND OTHER CFC’S PLEASE FIND SOMEONE TO RECYCLE IT NOT BECAUSE OF THE ENVIRONMENT BUT YOU CAN SOMETIMES FIND SOMEONE TO RECYCLE FOR FREE OR MABY EVEN PAY YOU!!!!! R12 IS WORTH ABOUT $20-$30 A POUND / CAN EBAY http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=R+12&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR6.TRC2.A0.H0.XR+12+FREON+12&_nkw=R+12+FREON+12&_sacat=0
I COULD CARELESS ABOUT THE ENVIROMENT SOMETIMES, BUT FREON IS VERY VALUABLE PLEASE DON’T WASTE IT , IT IS NOT MANUFACTURED ANYMORE, THE ONLY FREEON AVAILABLE IS ETHER RECYCLED OR NEW OLD STOCK

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jen April 17, 2014 at 9:38 am

I have a fairly new a.c. unit that my dad’s friend dropped off an never came back for… what can I do. It’s huge! Like the warehouse that hold Jay Leno cars lol. But seriously I need to get rid of this thing. Please anyone one with ideas. I’m in Miami. .

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Lisa Preciado April 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

How much could i get for 2 Carrier 50EZ060-5 air conditioner units.

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