If you are considering buying a new window air conditioner, first take a look at your current unit's EER rating. Federal laws have increased the minimum EER rating for A/C units to an 8. The higher the number is, the more efficient the air conditioner is. If your window air conditioner has an EER number less than 8, it's in your best interest to ditch it and get something new. But new A/C units can be expensive. What you can do is take apart your old unit and recycle the parts, which will make you a few bucks that you can put towards the cost of a new air window air conditioner. If you want cash back for your old A/C unit, follow these steps to recycle your air conditioner for a few extra dollars.
1. Remove the Freon
Air conditioners contain Freon or another type of refrigerant, which is a dangerous chemical that should only be handled by a licensed and trained professional. Since most scrapyards will not accept air conditioners with refrigerant still inside, you need to call a local HVAC technician to remove it for you before proceeding with this project. It is illegal to remove refrigerants yourself. If you try to remove it yourself, you can be fined by the EPA for as much as $37,500.
2. Cut the Wires
Next, grab your wire snips and cut the end of the power cord off the back of the air conditioner. This cord will be the beginning of your copper wire pile. Use pliers to remove the brass plugs from the end of the wire and start another pile for brass. The goal is to organize the different types of metals into separate piles to make recycling them at the scrap metal shop fast and easy.
3. Remove the Steel
Use a power drill to open the frame of the A/C unit. This will allow you to pull the steel side panels off the unit. These side panels and the screws you just removed can now be used to start of a steel metal pile.
4. Remove the Plastic Covers
Now, take the plastic covers off the front and back of the air conditioner and set them aside to be placed into your plastic recycling bin.
5. Cut the Copper Tubes
Take your cable cutters and use them to disconnect the copper tubing that runs from the radiators to the sealed unit. This is considered to be #2 copper tubing, which is priced a bit lower than other types of copper tubes. So put this in a separate pile from your other copper items.
6. Remove the Sealed Unit
Use a wrench to disconnect the sealed unit from the base of the air conditioner. This will be a bit heavy, and it's best to scrap the whole thing at once because it's difficult to open and not worth the time.
7. Remove the Power Supply
Unscrew the power supply with your drill, and throw the screws into your steel pile. You can also take this time to remove the copper wires you see, as well as the aluminum heatsink, small transformer, and the low-grade circuit boards. These should all go in a separate pile and can be used again in computers. If you want to skip this step, you can scrap the whole thing, but you won't get as much money.
8. Take Out the Motor
At the back of the unit you will find the fan and motor. Take this out using the drill. If the fan is metal, put it into the steel pile. If the fan is plastic, put it into the plastic pile. Take a screwdriver to detached the fan from the motor, and put the copper motor into the copper pile.
9. Remove the Radiators
Also called ACRs, there may be one or two radiators in your window air conditioner. If there are two, you will see a small one in the front and a larger one in the back. Once you remove them, put each one into a vice and use a sawzall to cut the copper loops off the ends and put them into your copper pile.
10. Access the Steel on the Radiators
Take a flathead screwdriver and remove the steel plate located on the side of the radiator. This goes directly into your steel pile. Now you are left with an aluminum/copper fin for your copper pile.
11. Collect the Cash
Take your piles to the scrapyard and collect your cash. Scrap yards pay by weight. You can get about $11.80 at the scrap yard for your old air conditioner; of course this varies by the constant fluctuating price of metals.
While you can recycle just about everything these days, you can't always just throw an item into your recycle bin and never think about it again. Items like window air conditioners need special attention and considerations in order to properly take them apart and dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way. If you follow the steps above, not only will you properly dispose of your old window air conditioner, but you'll make a few extra bucks doing it.
If you have any questions about dismantling and recycling your window air conditioner, call local residential air conditioning technicians.