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Tips on How to Get the Most Money Out of Your Old Refrigerator

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The average lifespan of any of any large refrigerator is less than twenty years. It is just a matter of time when you must buy a new one. But what will you do with the old one? You are not alone in this decision. It is estimated that more than nine million refrigerators are disposed of each year. The last place you want to send your refrigerator is to the landfill.

It will take numerous years for a refrigerator to decompose, and refrigerators contain dangerous oils, refrigerants, and other compounds that will damage the environment during the decomposing process. Fortunately, they do not have to end up there. You can go about recycling scrap metals in several ways and you may even make a dollar or two in the process.

Trade Your Refrigerator In

Some retailers will give you a small discount in addition to picking up your old refrigerator from you. These are often retailers who participate in the EPA's Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program. This is a voluntary program designed to reduce the amount of ozone depleting chemicals being released into the environment.

If your retailer does not participate in this program, you may be able to find a partner locally, who would be willing to come and take the appliance off of your hands. While some of these partners may not pay you for your appliance, they may be willing to pick it up, and make sure it is properly disposed of. This will save you the hassle of having to deal with it through other means.

Take Your Refrigerator to Your Closest Metal Recycling Center

If you have a truck available, you can load up your old refrigerators, as well as any other large appliance, and recycle them directly to a scrap metal recycling center. Your old appliances can be valuable, since the recycling centers pay you by the pound.

All metals are not equal in price and some are far more valuable than others. While most scrapyards will be willing to pay you a flat fee for your refrigerator as it is, you may be able to make even more money if you take the time to break it down. With a little time, and a little know how, it really is not that difficult to do.

  1. Many scrap yards will not accept a refrigerator containing refrigerant, or freon. Although not dangerous to inhale, this chemical is dangerous to the ozone layer when it is released into the atmosphere. Removing freon needs to be done by a licensed HVAC contractor, but they should be willing to remove it for you at a very low cost. 
  2. Once the freon is removed, you are ready to start breaking down your unit. Remember, one of the most valuable metals you will be able to retrieve out of a refrigerator is the copper. This can be found several different places, but you must first remove the back of the unit. This is simply held in place with a couple of screws, and once these are removed, you will be able to see directly into the unit.
  3. Remove any wiring you see, along with the power cord. These can go into your copper wire pile.
  4. Remove the large sealed unit you see inside the refrigerator. You have a choice of scraping it as is, or breaking it open to retrieve the copper wiring and other components contained within. 
  5. You will also be able to reclaim the copper piping you find around the sealed unit, and in the back of the fridge.
  6. There should be two fans, along with an electric motor. All of these can be scraped for extra money.
  7. Use a common magnet to determine if there is any other metal in or around the unit. Although the inside of your refrigerator is usually made up of plastic, your outside hull is usually some form of aluminum, or steel. You may also find metal edging on your glass shelves. All of this can be removed and added to your scrap pile.
  8. Save your glass shelves since they are recyclable too. 

Once you have everything broken down, take your materials to the scrap yard to have them weighed. How much you receive will depend on how much the metal is selling for that particular day or week.