When you are clearing out a house or dealing with a giant pile of junk, chances are that you will have a significant amount of scrap metal. In the past, I’ve gone online to find someone who would save us the hassle and haul it away for us. However, as inflation continues to rise, I’m always looking for new ways to generate income. Seeing these ads from scrappers on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace proves I’m not the only one either. When my mom’s appliances gave out, it got me wondering, is it worth dismantling a washer and dryer for scrap metal? Or, should I save myself the time and the headache?
How Do You Dismantle a Washer and Dryer?
Nowadays, you can literally learn to do anything with online tutorial videos. A quick search on YouTube will give you many results with people who show you how to dismantle your appliances step by step. All you’ll need is a drill, cutters, protective gear, and things you’ll find in a basic tool kit.
If you have never looked inside your appliance, it may be worth taking them apart simply to see how they work. However, in my experience, it’s much easier to take things apart than to put them back together. Therefore, be warned this advice is simply for breaking them down for scrap metal, not for repair and maintenance.
Separating While Dismantling Your Scrap Metal
Dismantling a washer and dryer for scrap metal will bring you more money than selling it whole. But the burning question is, how much more?
If you don’t disassemble the appliance yourself, you’ll get paid by the pound for the cheapest component (steel). However, you’ll want to separate the metals if it has aluminum, copper, or brass components as these metals bring a much higher price. Once again, the videos can help you identify what type of metals you have. You can also use a magnet or a grinder to determine if it’s steel vs. aluminum.
Separating the metals as you go will save you more time later on. Although most seasoned scrappers will tell you that there are really only a few valuable parts. So the fastest and most efficient way to earn money is to separate the motor, pump, gearbox, wires, and control panel from the rest of the machine.
Fluctuating Prices for Scrap Metal
Another thing that you should be aware of is that scrap metal prices fluctuate daily. So, there are no set prices and the amount scrap yards are willing to pay per pound changes.
Unfortunately, scrap metal prices have been down recently. While copper usually sells between $3-4/lb, it’s selling for about $2.40 now. When prices are up, you can typically get above $1.80/lb for brass, however, now it’s down to $1.60. Steel is faring slightly better at $160/ton and $140/ton for complete vehicles, but it is still down compared to scrap prices from this time last year.
Based on this data, you would receive even less for the metal in your washer or dryer than usual.
Is It Worth Dismantling a Washer and Dryer for Scrap Metal?
If you’ve never done it before, dismantling a washer and dryer for scrap metal could be a valuable learning experience. But if you decide to disassemble them, prepare to spend a few hours stripping them and then hauling them to the scrap yard. Although, you could save yourself some time if you decide to sell the appliance whole.
After calling a few local businesses, most told me they pay $0.05/lb if you go this route. Your average washer weighs about 170 lbs. and dryers are around 124 lbs. If you do the math based on these figures, you’d get $8.50 for your washer and $6.20 for the dryer. On the other hand, if you were to disassemble them, you’d earn a few more dollars for the aluminum, brass, and copper (if any) as well.
In all reality, it probably isn’t worth your time if you have a single washer and dryer. And with the price of gas increasing as well, the cost to drive it to the salvage yard will further reduce your profits. Although if it’s a newer model, you might get lucky selling it for parts online.
Best Tips and Tricks
For those who are interested in dismantling appliances for scrap metal, here are a few tips to help you maximize your time and profit:
- Go online to learn more. If you aren’t sure where to start, go online to find videos, websites, and other resources to help you learn how to disassemble and identify things. Not only will it help you earn more money, but it will also make you faster at dismantling appliances.
- Start with the simplest tasks. Begin by taking off doors, covers, and other removable parts. Not only will this reduce hazards, but working from the outside in will also allow you to gain better access to the internal components.
- Sort as you go. Don’t just toss everything into the heap; separate the metals as you go. Keep separate piles or buckets for each type of metal so you won’t have to sort them again later. This will save you time and make you more efficient.
- Watch scrap prices. Scrap prices fluctuate daily, And even though prices have been down, watching the markets can help you identify trends and days when you can maximize your haul.
- Stay safe. Your safety should always be a top priority. Make sure the appliances are unplugged before you get to work. And, avoid takings things apart before you know what you’re working with and are aware of potential hazards. You should also wear protective gear (gloves, eyewear, long sleeves and pants, closed-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) when working with metal.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.