The amount of money you can get scrapping a water heater will depend on many factors. More often than not, there are valuable components within a water heater, such as copper pipes, that can earn you more money than a whole water heater at the scrapyard. This article will help you determine how much you can expect to get for a scrap water heater, how to get the most money possible for your scrap water heater, and how to find a place near you that will pay top dollar for your scrap water heater.
Average Price for Scrapping a Water Heater
The easiest way to dispose of an old water heater for scrap is to bring the entire unit to a scrap yard, but this will also get you the least amount of money. When you bring a whole water heater into a scrap yard, you get the going rate for what is called light-iron, light-steel, shred, or mixed metal. The exact price you get for your water heater will depend on the current spot price of scrap metal and your location.
The selling price for light-iron, light-steel, and shred scrap for 2018 was around $450 per ton or about $0.23 per pound. Over the last ten years, light-iron scrap prices have varied widely between about $200 per ton and $500 per ton. Since these quoted prices are often the rates at which scrap yards can sell their product, you can expect the scrapyard to offer you less than this rate in order to make a profit. We found one scrap yard in New Jersey offering just $0.05 per pound for light-iron.
Most traditional, tank-style water heaters weigh around 150 pounds when drained, so based on 2018’s rate, you can expect a high estimate of around $30 at the scrapyard. More realistically, your water heater may only bring you about $7 to $10 depending on the prices available at scrapyards in your area. The exact price will depend on the size of your water heater, too; some brands manufacture water heaters that hold over 100 gallons of water and weigh around 200 pounds when dry, but the most common size in homes is 40 or 50 gallons (or 100 to 150 pounds dry).
How to Get a Better Price Scrapping a Water Heater
How much can you get for a scrap water heater if you’re willing to put in some effort? If you want to get the most money from scrapping your water heater and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, there are several valuable elements that you can separate from a water heater which have higher scrap prices than light-iron, shred, or mixed metal.
Copper Scrap in a Water Heater
Several parts of a water heater made out of copper and therefore more valuable to scrap separate from the water heater unit as a whole. Components made of copper include:
- Heating elements (for electric water heaters)
- Copper tube remnants, internal copper tubes, and mineral deposit sticks
- Copper fittings
- Copper wire
Copper prices in 2018 were around $3 per pound on average, which is notably higher than the light-iron price. Scrap values change frequently and will vary based on the type of copper, the purity of copper in your water heater, and your location. You can get up-to-date copper prices on sites like ScrapMonster. You can also determine the value of your separated copper scrap with a copper scrap calculator.
Want to learn more about scrapping copper? Check out our article Scrap Copper Prices (By the pound/ton/ounce/gram).
Brass Scrap in a Water Heater
There are also various parts of a water heater made out of brass, which are valuable to scrap. Some brass components in a water heater include:
- Valves (such as the pressure relief valve, usually located at the top of a water heater, and the drain valve at the bottom)
- Regulator (for gas water heaters)
- Knobs (which may be on valves, control boxes, and regulators)
- Burner assemblies (for gas water heaters)
The price you can get from scrap brass from a water heater will vary based on your location, the type of brass, and the purity of the brass. In 2018, brass prices were between about $1.38 and $1.50 per pound. You can find up-to-date brass scrap prices on sites like ScrapRegister.
Learn more about scrap brass in our article: Scrap Brass Per Pound, Ounce, and Ton.
Aluminum Scrap in a Water Heater
Water heaters may also have aluminum components that are worthwhile to remove before scrapping the water heater unit as a whole. Some examples of aluminum in a water heater include:
- Electric control boxes
- Pilot light pipe (for gas water heaters)
- Burner pipes (for gas water heaters)
- Valves and valve bodies
Like other metals, the price of aluminum can change over time and will depend on various factors such as your location and quality of the aluminum. Scrap prices were around $0.60 per pound for 2018 — low, but still stronger than the per-pound price for mixed metal. You can find the current price of aluminum on sites like InfoMine.
You can learn more about recycling and scrapping aluminum in our article Aluminum Recycling Prices: Aluminum Scrap Prices.
The weight of only the copper, brass, and aluminum elements of the water heater will be lower than the weight of the full tank, and the total you make from these metals will still be dependent on their quality and quantity. But by separating the water heater, you can get the highest possible value for these metals and should still be able to scrap the rest of the tank as mixed metal, increasing your total profit.
How to Scrap a Water Heater
Find a Scrap Yard
The first step to scrapping your water heater is to find scrap yards near you. Several sites will aid you in finding nearby scrapyards:
- iScrap App, which is both a website and an app, maintains a nationwide directory of local scrap yards. Users can report current prices, so sometimes you’ll be able to see what a nearby scrap yard has been paying others for scrap.
- Scrap Metal Network in another directory of local scrap yards. It’s less interactive than the iScapp App, but you can search by state.
- Scrap Monster has a useful search function and includes scrap materials besides metal as well. You’ll want to narrow your search by location, and then you can filter by what you want to scrap or recycle.
Once you find scrap yards near you, call to get a quote on the price it pays for the type of metal your water heater includes. By calling around, you may be able to find locations paying much higher prices than others.
Clean & Prep Your Water Heater
Next, prep your water heater for scrap. Ensure the water from the tank is drained. Some scrap yards may require tanks to be punctured to prove there is no water inside. When you call your nearby scrap yards for quotes, ask their specific requirements for a water heater.
Before you go to the scrapyard, have the different materials (such as copper, brass, aluminum) neatly separated. This will help ensure that more valuable materials do not get counted as lower value metals. Don’t expect to be able to break down the unit any further once you get to the scrap yard. Many scrapyards will pay higher prices for larger amounts of scrap material, so you may find it worthwhile to hold off on taking that water heater to scrap if you will have more scrap material soon.
You can also check state-specific laws regarding scrap material to prepare for your trip to the scrap yard. Because of concerns about people scrapping stolen goods, many states have ID requirements, don’t allow scrap yards to pay cash, or have other restrictions to protect against theft. You can ask about these requirements when you call scrap yards for quotes, too.
Options Besides Scrapping: Reselling and Recycling
There may be times when you could get more money for your water heater by selling it rather than by just scrapping it. If the unit still works, you may be able to resell it for more than it is worth as scrap on sites like Craigslist or your local Facebook buy/sell/trade group.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of a scrap yard, you can also use one of these sites to search for a recycling organization:
Recycling companies may pay you a small amount for your water heater, just offer to remove an old water heater away for free, or may even charge you based on your location. However, if you don’t have the means to take a water heater to a scrap yard, this can be the best option.
How much can you get for a scrap water heater? The average price for scrapping a water heater is $7 to $30. It’s not uncommon for a water heater to weigh as much as 150 pounds, so you may find it worthwhile to take the effort to scrap your water heater. There are many more valuable components in a water heater that, if removed, may raise the average price you can get for scrapping a water heater. Scrapping your old water heater may prove to be an easy way to make a few bucks! Want to scrap more things? Here’s how much you’ll earn by pulling the copper out of refrigerator compressor.