How much money can you get for a scrap water heater? That will depend on many factors. More often than not, there are valuable components within a hot water heater that are beneficial for scrap. This article will help you determine how much you should 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.

In This Article

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. There are several sites that 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.
  • Junk Metal has over 330 scrap yards in its directory, but is much smaller than the iScrapp App directory.

One you find scrap yards near you, call to get a quote on the price it pays for the type of metal your water heater is made of. Just 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 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.

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 result in 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.

In December 2017 the price for light-iron, light-steel and shred scrap was around $335 per ton, about $0.16 per pound. However, this price can fluctuate over time. You can use sites like Recycleinme to find today’s prices or recent prices of shred scrap metal. Over the last 10 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 that scrap yards are able to sell their product, you can expect them to offer you slightly less than this rate, in order for them to make money. You can also use sites like iScrapApp where users report prices they have been offered at nearby scrapyards.

How to Get a Better Price Scrapping a Water Heater

If you want to get the most from scrapping your water heater and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, there are several elements that you can separate out of a hot water heater and that have higher scrap prices than what you will get for scrapping the entire water heater as light-iron, light-steel, shred, or mixed metal.

Copper Scrap in a Water Heater

There are various parts of a hot water heater made out of copper and therefore more valuable to scrap separate from the hot water heater unit as a whole. These components made of copper include:

  • Heating elements (for electric water waters)
  • Copper tube remnants, internal copper tubes, and mineral deposit sticks
  • Copper fittings
  • Copper wire

Copper prices as of December 2017 were around $3 per pound, notably higher than the light-iron price! But the value can change 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 hot water heater made out of brass that are valuable to scrap. Some brass components in a water heater include:

  • Valves (such as the pressure relief valve usually 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. As of December 2017, brass prices varied between $1.50 and $2 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. As of December 2017 prices were around $0.95 per pound. You can find the current price of aluminium on sites like InfoMine.

You can learn more about recycling and scrapping aluminum in our article Aluminum Recycling Prices: Aluminium Scrap Prices.

Options Besides Scrapping: Reselling and Recylcing

There may be times when you could get more money for your water heater 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.

In Summary

It’s not uncommon for a water heater to weigh as much as 100 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!