Someone gave me an old air conditioner to scrap

Home Forums Scrap Metal Discussions Scrap Metal How-To’s & Guides Someone gave me an old air conditioner to scrap

This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  James Capone 2 months, 1 week ago.

  • Author
  • #3576
    Janet Scott
    Janet Scott

    It looks like it has tons of copper on it. It also still has the Freon. Anyone know how to identify the Freon line so I don’t end up with it all over me? This is my first air conditioner for scrap so any helpful hints from anyone would be great. I started to take it apart yesterday and realized what a big job it was. Hopefully its still there for me to take apart when I get off work. Should I try to take motor apart to or turn in as a motor?

  • #3579


    I’m guessing from your post that the AC is not a through the wall unit. If it is a through the wall AC I would suggest that you take it home before breaking it down.

    If it’s not a TTW AC then my next best guess is that it’s a modular split system with the condensing unit outside and the Fan/blower located somewhere inside.

    I owned a Mechanical Contracting Company for 18 years and HVAC is my specialty. I’ve installed and/or serviced just about every type of AC you can think of. From roof mounted units so big that you open a door on the side of it and walk inside it to service the unit. Some have so much room inside them that you can lay down and take a nap (not recommended) to small split systems that you can carry in one hand.

    I tell you this because you really have not provided enough information for me to answer any of your questions. I can tell you this, the refrigerant (freon) is in the copper lines and the coils. One side of the system will have the freon in liquid form and will also be mixed will oil to lubricate the compressor motor. The other side of the system will have the freom is a gas form, no liquid. I know that does not make much sense to you and there’s no way I can explain the theory behind how a HVAC unit/system works in one session, just take my word for it.

    There is another situation where the system may not have any refrigerant in the coils or copper lines and that’s if there is a leak in the refrigerant lines or coil somewhere. here’s how you can find out if there is freon in the pipes.

    If it’s a split system where the condenser is setting on the ground outside, the panel where the two pipes enter the condenser is removable. Pull that panel and you should see a couple of Schroeder valves, one in each of the copper pipes. These are used to charge the system (put freon in) after installation. One of the pipes is smaller than the other pipe. The small pipe will always be the liquid line and the large pipe will always be the vacuum or suction line. If the Schroeder valve on the smaller copper pipe has a cap on it, remove the cap. then you can take a key or pen or anything you have and press down of the stem in the valve. If there’s freon in the system you will know immediately as it comes hissing out of the valve. Be careful in case any of the liquid comes hissing out.

    Liquid refrigerant is very, very cold when it looses it pressure and and turns to gas. It can cause a freezer burn if you are exposed to enough of it. To dismantle the condensing unit you first have to get all of the freon out of the system.

    In the old days before the government got involved and started to regulate and dictate how to remove/recover refrigerant from an AC system, we would take a hack saw and cut both of the copper lines where they entered the condensing unit and then go take a break while all of the freon came hissing out of the pipes. 15 minutes later when we returned if there was no more hissing or freon escaping from the pipes we would finish removing the condenser.

    Of course I can not legally recommend that you dispose of the freon in that fashion, that would be against the law. How you get the freon out of the system is up to you to decide, but you have to get it out first before you do anything else.

    Did they also give the the evaporator that’s inside the building? The evaporator is the fan/blower unit that the other end of the copper pipes connect too. If they gave you that also, is it a free standing unit in a corner or closet somewhere or is it a suspender unit that hangs above the ceiling somewhere? if it’s free standing, removal is easy. if it’s suspended above the ceiling then you will need another person (another set of hands) to help you get it down and outside.

    Not sure if that was any help too you but I hope it was. If you have any additional questions or I can help in any way, please let me know

  • #3580
    Janet Scott
    Janet Scott

    Ok the Freon came out already when I was moving in. I only took the two radiators that were in it. The rest I put in trash for someone else to deal with. Now I have these two radiators that have copper tubing and through these thin sheets of aluminum. Am I going to have to separate the alum from the copper. geez this is a lot of work already. You sure know a lot of stuff Darksky.

  • #3581


    No, scrap yards will buy the 2 mixed copper/aluminum coils as is and give you a pretty good price ,……. Provided you do one thing to each coil.

    The coils actually have copper, aluminum AND a steel plate on each end. If you look carefully at the ends of each coil where the copper comes out and loops back in (sorta looks like a bunch of little “U’s”) you will see a steel plate that runs from top to bottom of the coil and the copper “U’s” penetrate this plate before going through the aluminum fins. There’s one on each side of the coil.

    You have to take a sawzall or a small hand grinder with a metal cutting blade on it and remove this steel plate from each end of both coils. If you don’t remove both steel plates the scrap yard will downgrade the copper/aluminum coils to a aluminum breakage category and you will get next too nothing for the coils. When they downgrade your coils it cuts what they will pay you for the coils by a factor of 4. YOU HAVE TO REMOVE THOSE STEEL PLATES OR YOU HAVE WASTED YOUR TIME!

    You can still sell the steel plates to the scrap yard but the good news is once you remove them from the coils they the copper “U’s” will still be connected to the plates and instead of an alumiumn breakage price the yard will now give you a copper breakage price for the plates

  • #3582


    And I’m sorta like that State Farm commercial where they say, “We know a lot because we’ve seen a lot!”

    LMAO, just kidding. Let me know if you need anything else.

  • #3583


    I noticed that you said you trashed everything else. I can certainly understand that! Just a little something for future consideration;

    * There is normally a small circuit board in the outdoor units that might be worth holding onto and depopulating
    * All outdoor units have contactors which controls the start/stop of the unit, some have two depending of the design of the unit. Contactors use silver and/or a silver alloy for the points in the them for a variety of reasons. These contactors and points are very easy to remove. If you pull the points and save up a few pounds there are plenty of people online who will buy the points and refine them for their silver content.
    * Outdoor units will have either a start capacitor or a run capacitor in them to help get the compressor started or help keep it running once started. Depending on the type of capacitor used it may have PM’s (Precious Metals) in it. Definitely worth saving
    * The motors on the fans can be sold to scrap yards mainly because of their copper content. They are also very easy to open up and remove the copper from. In most cases there are only four bolts, two on each side of the motor. To get inside the motor all you have to do is remove these four bolts and pull the armature out. You can also sell the motors intact to your local yard but the PPP (price per pound) that they pay for an intact motor is a lot less than what they pay for just the copper.

    Again, just a little food for thought

  • #3631

    James Capone

    I do know where I live, our yard would not take the pieces we brought from an outside AC unit. Home unit Central Heat/Air. They said we need an HVAC license in order for them to accept the ACRS(Radiator) and a few other pieces. Even though we cleaned the steel plate off an all. Check with your local yards about the rules.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Need help? Contact us using this form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.