How To Scrap A Television – Scrapping a TV

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It’s amazing how easy it is to make money from things we were about to throw out. (Check out the Scrapper’s Handbook for Scrap Metal Tips).

This TV is ready for recycling!

Take, for example, old televisions; They are generally worth less than the scrap metal contained inside of them. So before you send them to your local landfill, pull out the scrap copper, scrap aluminum, and scrap circuit boards! Here is how to break them down for their scrap metal value.

If you are unhappy with how much money you are making from scrapping TVs, I suggest you try scrapping Computer Monitors instead. They have less glass and more metal.

Tools you will need

  • Screw driver / power drill with screw bits
  • Nut driver / hex (socket) head bit
  • Side cutters, or wire cutters of your choice.
  • A razor knife
  • A few 5 gallon buckets (for sorting metals at the end)
  • Gloves
  • Patience
  1. Remove The Scrap Television’s Back Cover

    In most models, this is just a molded piece of plastic on the back of the TV with a few fasteners holding it on. Every TV is different, so it requires a little trial and error. (If you’ve ever disassembled an old tube tv, you know exactly what I am talking about.) 

    Often times the fasteners are 3/8” hex head screws, and there is at least one in every corner of the back cover. Once you remove these screws, the cover will usually just pop off. If this is not the case, and you have a larger style TV, my only universal suggestion is to keep removing screws until you can see the “guts” of the TV.

    In some TV models, the power cable may need to be cut off before the cover comes off. Either way, cut the copper power cable and set it off to the side.

  2.  Discharge the TV’s capacitor

    All devices containing  large capacitors – microwaves, TV, etc – can hold an electrical charge that is powerful enough to hurt you! (Some would even say kill you.) It’s danger is often exaggerated, but it could still give you a very nasty shock!

    If the TV you plan on scrapping was plugged-in any time during the previous week, then it could still hold a charge. Conversely, if it was unplugged for over a week, then you can pretty much expect the capacitors to have lost their charge. So no worries.

    This is a really great guide to discharging a CRT.

    If you electrocuted yourself while scrapping a TV, please leave a comment at the end of this post so we can learn from your mistakes!

  3.  Cut Out Scrap Circuit Boards

    There are at least two circuit boards in a scrap TV; one of them is attached to the narrow top of the tube (the “electron gun”) and the other is the large board that usually rests at the TV bottom. Both boards can get separated from the TV usually by hand, but sometimes it requires cutting zip-ties or undoing screws.

    The printed circuit board connected to the electron gun just above the copper yoke is usually held on with some soft calking that acts as an electrical insulator. Pull this board off carefully, without breaking the glass on the TV.

    Once you have isolated the scrap circuit boards from the rest of the TV, you will be able to pull off any attachments that you think are more valuable, for example: small scrap transformers, small inductors, small aluminum heat sinks, and small precious-metal-bearing IC chips.

  4.  Disassemble the Scrap Copper Yoke

    The copper yoke is a cone-shaped coil of wires at the end of the tube. It’s easy to pull all the copper out once you separate it from the tube.

    Most scrap copper yokes have 1 or 2 stainless steel screws/clips holding them onto the tube. If you simply undo these screws, you will we home free. Just give the scrap copper yoke a firm twist, and it should slide off the tube. (Sometimes it’s a bit sticky, but just keep twisting, and it should come off just fine).

    As a LAST RESORT you can use a hammer to break the yoke off of the glass. This is horribly messy, and dangerous. Once the glass is broken, it will be difficult to dispose of without cutting up your gloves or hands. Don’t break the yoke from the tube with a hammer. Once it is removed from the tube, however, that is a different story…

    Scrap Copper Yokes from a Scrap TV

    So much copper!!!

  5.  Breaking Apart the Scrap Copper Yoke

    After removing the yoke from the tube, you will want to separate all of the copper from its ferrite core. Ferrite is a type of magnetic ceramic, and will break very easily when hit with a hammer. Use this to your advantage!

    My method for separating the copper is simple: Set all of the copper yokes you have on their side in a wide based bucket. Then, with a sledge-hammer, firmly tamp down on them from above with the top of the sledge-hammer pointing down, just like you are leveling a foundation. (Actually, if you have a tamping tool, that would work just as well.)

    Pulverize the black ferrite that the copper is wound around; This will make separating the copper from the rest of the bucket’s contents much easier.

    After you have broken the yokes completely apart, it only takes a second to pull the copper from the mess that’s left. Your scrap yard may or may not want anything else that is in the bucket, but check before recycling it’s contents.

  6.  Separating And Stripping The Scrap Degaussing Coil

    The scrap degaussing coil is a thick gauge wire that runs around the front of the tube. The degaussing cable is normally covered with a thick, sticky, black electrical tape. It is generally copper, but can be made of aluminum. (If it is aluminum, then it will feel much lighter than equivalent copper wire)

    Near the degaussing cable will be some tinned copper wire (It is usually braided). This is worth copper #2 at most scrap yards, so cut it from the tube with your wire cutters along with the degaussing cable.

    The copper degaussing cable is, in most people’s eyes, worth stripping to the core. This can be done with some time and a razor cutter. Do not unwrap the electrical tape by hand; it is a waste of time. 

    After carefully (and patiently) cutting a slot down the extent of the degaussing cable (without cutting yourself), pull the copper out! It will most likely be sticky from the electrical tape.

    I have found, after extensive trial and error, that most of the small gauge wire is worth the same at my scrap yard whether it is stripped or not. If your scrap yard pays great insulated wire prices, then it may not be worth stripping.

  7.  Disposing of the Leaded Glass TV Tube

    Now that all of the salvageable items are out of the TV, you will want to get rid of the tube. This may be tricky in some states, which require businesses to dispose of their CRT tubes in an environmentally conscious manner. If you are not technically a business, then you have nothing to worry about!
    In general, it will be just fine for you to wrap them in a trash bag and set them to the curb with the rest of your trash. (After all, you were going to set it out there anyway.)
    I have disposed of my CRTs, among other ways, by bringing them to Best Buy, which has a buy back program that works as follows: They take the CRT if you pay them $10, but they give you a $10 gift card in return.

 Don’t Forget to be safe!

  • Leave the CRT unplugged for a while before scrapping. This will assure the capacitor has enough time to bleed its charge away.
  • Always were gloves! This is especially important when dealing with any broken glass.
  • Don’t break the glass! Be careful not to smash anything against the tubes.
  • Place finished tubes in a safe area, away from where you are working. If you were to fall on the tubes, you could seriously hurt yourself, or impale yourself.

Give comment, send feedback, or share your stories and question in our Scrapper’s Forum!

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