By Holger Reinel | Updated on June 11, 2020
Did you know you can turn common household scrap metal into instant cash at a scrap yard near me or you?
Anything from electronics, scrap cars, water heaters, kitchen sinks, appliances and more, a nearby scrap yard will buy the metal so that they can recycle it.
A while ago, I worked at the head office of Triple M. Metal, a leading scrap metal recycler in North America. My job was as an Accountant was to audit documentation regarding scrap metal purchases the company made with smaller scrap metal dealers.
After buying the scrap metal, the company would shred it using a huge shredder; the shredded metal was then resold to car manufacturers as recycled metal.
I’m about to share with you everything you need to know to get the most cash for scrap metal without getting ripped off.
If you are searching for “scrap yard near me” you’ve come to the right place. Use our search tool to find the nearest scrap yard. Simply, enter your zip code and click on the button.
Another simple way is using the iScrap app. You can easily find a local scrap yard as well as the prices they pay. Simply enter your city and click search.
You will get a listing of the best local scrap yards with contact information and links where you can check the price per pound being paid at each scrap yard. However, don’t ignore small scrap yard since those scrap yards may offer more money than bigger ones.
Local scrap metal yards purchase metal based on weight.
When you take in your load of scrap metal to the scrapyard you drive up to the entrance and stop your vehicle on a large scale that measures the weight; then you drive over to the unloading section and proceed to discharge the type of metal you’re selling.
After unloading, you drive to the exit and stop at the large scale where the weight of the vehicle will be measured again. The difference between the weight when you entered and when you exit is the metal that you unloaded.
At that point, you get a receipt which you can redeem for cash at the scrap yard atm. or at their office.
You can even register with the app to receive recycling tips and updates on scrap metal prices.
The price of scrap metals changes frequently. For example, if car manufacturers are making more cars, or if the construction industry is busy building things, that means there is a rise in demand, which naturally pushes metal prices higher.
Quality of scrap metal
The quality of your scrap metal matters most. You will receive a lower price if the scrap metal is contaminated with or materials, or worse with corrosion. This is because the recycling yard will have to clean it up before they can resell or recycle it.
Understand what you can and cannot scrap
The scrapyard you go to may not be able to take every piece of metal you take to them. For example, if you take a full-sized BBQ but the scrap yard only accepts the lid, you will get paid for the weight of the metal from the lid and not the best to the BBQ.
Before going to a scrap yard give them a call to confirm that they are specialized in the type of metal scrap you want to sell.
The most common scrap metals for recycling are iron, copper, aluminum, and brass, with copper and aluminum being the most valuable.
Most home appliances, electronics, and cars contain a good amount of copper and aluminum. Failing to recycle those types of metals is like throwing money away.
Here is a list of items you can sell at a scrap yard:
Cars, motorcycles, boats, airplanes
Home appliances, electronics, computers, laptops
Stainless steel sinks, copper plumbing tubes
Bicycles, full-sized BBQ’s, and cast iron bathtubs
Metal frames, metal shelves, and metal railings
Christmas lights and electrical wires, and lawnmowers
Cars are still the biggest source of metal recycling but increased recycling awareness of e-waste and consumer electronics is poised to push the industry to over $950-billion annual revenue by 2026.
Before you load your truck and rush off to the nearest scrap yard, here are 9 tips that will help you get the most money for your scrap metal.
You need to separate your metals before going to a scrap yard near you.
The reason is, the scrap yard staff will separate the metals as ferrous and non-ferrous. Nonferrous metals include aluminum, brass, copper, nickel tin, lead, and zinc as well as other precious metals like gold, silver, and bronze.
The easiest way to find out whether a metal is ferrous or non-ferrous is by using a magnet.
If the magnet sticks to the metal it means the metal is ferrous. A good example of ferrous metals is iron or steel.
If the magnet does NOT stick to the metal it is a non-ferrous metal.
Use individual buckets for each metal type (ferrous and non-ferrous). You can break them down even further into metal groups such as aluminum, copper, lead, etc.
By separating your metals by metal type and how clean they are, you can sometimes double the amount of money you get at the scrap yard.
Look out for downgrades
If your load of non-ferrous metals is mixed with ferrous materials, that load turns into a “dirty load” which means an entire load of metal is downloaded to a lower price.
You don’t want that.
The scrapyard should provide documentation if a downgrade does happen. Ask questions so you understand how the scrapyard deals with dirty loads and how you could prevent it with future transactions.
One of the challenging parts of metal recycling is recognizing what material you are looking at, especially if you are a first-time scrapper. As explained in the last tip ferrous metals stick to a magnet and are less valuable than non-ferrous metals.
Here is a quick depiction that will help you determine the type of scrap metal you have:
Copper – $$$$
Copper is a pinkish-orange color metal that is very common in homes. You can find it in plumbing pipes, electrical copper wires, and in smaller quantities in electronic devices. Scrap copper is one of the most valuable metals that are recycled at a scrap yard, so if you have it, separate it from other metals.
Aluminum – $$$
Copper has a bright silvery appearance. Most scrap aluminum comes from soda cans, windows, doors frames, and from car aluminum rims. 100% of recycled aluminum cans end up in new aluminum cans. According to the aluminum association, Americans throw away $700 million worth of aluminum per year.
Brass – $$
Brass has a yellow-brown appearance. Some people confuse it with gold but brass id made by combining zinc and copper. Because it’s yellowish color, brass is used in home decorations like doorknobs, locks etc. to give it a gold-like appearance.
Steel – $
You won’t get a lot of money form scrap steel but every little bit counts, right? It can ve recycled, melted down and reused over and over again. You can find steel in many places like shelves, chairs, and cars, making it of the most recycled materials.
Don’t spend hours dismantling an appliance or a motor if doing so will net you only slightly more money in comparison to the time you spend. Here is a quick breakdown of common scrap items and what to do with them:
Fridges have copper tubing so you can take it apart to remove the tubing but that won’t significantly increase what you get at the scrap yard, so you should consider scrapping the fridge whole.
If you are knowledgeable at dismantling engines and there is a good amount of copper inside, go for it. Otherwise, consider scrapping electric motors whole. The materials inside generally aren’t valuable enough to justify the time.
These are generally not difficult to take apart. You can remove the copper tubing, the electric motor, the aluminum coil, and the steel case; doing so will net you more money at the scrap yard.
These are also very easy to take apart. Remove the motherboard, hard-drive, the RAM, power cords, and the outer casing if the casing is made of aluminum.
You’ll get a lower price if you scrap a microwave whole. It is better to remove the electric motor, the aluminum casing, and the copper that’s inside so that you can scrap each metal separately which will net you more money.
Large electrical appliances
These should be scrapped whole, but if you have the time, go ahead and remove the metal components by metal type so you can scrap them separately.
Call at least 3 of the scrap yards near you or check online what prices they pay for the type of scrap metal you have. Sometimes the biggest scrap yards pay you the least amount of money.
That’s because the smaller scrap yards want to remain competitive and to do that they might offer more money – you win.
Go to the scrap yard that pays you the most; of course, you need to be mindful of traveling distance, but if you live in a big city, chances are that there will be several scrap yards near you.
What can I expect to receive for scrap metal items?
The prices you will get vary per scrap yard and the type of metal you are selling but here is a summary of how much money you should expect for each scrap item.
Washing machine: average weight of 200 lbs. $18 – $22
Dryer: average weight of 100 lbs. $8 – $10
Wash machine $18-20 for an average weight of 200 lbs.
Refrigerator: $16-20 for an average weight of 175 lbs.
Side by side refrigerator: for an average weight of 250 lbs $24 – $28
Ovens and ranges for an average weight of 125 lbs. $11 – $18
Full-size Gas BBQ with an average weight of 180 lbs. $16 – 20
Cast iron bathtub with an average weight of 300 lbs.$30 – $40
When a scrap yard resells a certain metal more often than other locations they usually pay higher prices; that’s because they will be shipping more material and recovering their money faster than other scrap yards.
So, take as much metal as possible. That’s how you will get them more interested in negotiating with you. You will always get better prices for a large quantity of scrap metal.
Think about it.
If you have just a couple of hundred pounds to sell, the scrap yard won’t be making much money on that small amount of metal, but if you have a bigger load and the scrapyard will be reselling the metal soon enough, they will have an incentive to give you a better deal.
I know this one may surprise you – The thing is Christmas lights have copper in them. While those tangled cords won’t make you a fortune, they are a great item to add to your scrap load because Christmas lights are so cheap to find.
Xmas lights will net you about $0.26 per pound. Some scrap yards may have higher prices if you remove the bulb and cut the end of the cord.
By scrapping these not only are you keeping them out of landfills, but you will also be making a decent profit.
To get the maximum value for scrapping a car here are the things you should consider before bringing the car to the scrap yard.
Remove aluminum rims if you have these
Remove the battery
Make sure there is no gas left in the tank or any other liquid like antifreeze, or engine oil. You will get a $40 deduction (or more) if you fail to do this.
Remove all trash or debris from the vehicle.
Bonus tip: You can resell the battery separately for $10. If there are other valuable metals like aluminum and you can easily remove it, do it so you can make extra money by selling it separately at the scrap yard.
No, I don’t mean clean with water and soap, but clean by removing extra attachments from the metal like a piece of concrete, drywall, screws or other materials that are not metal.
For example, copper is very valuable but if a piece of copper is mixed with another piece of brass or other metals, that’s going to result in a downgrade to the quality of your load.
Once you find a good scrap yard you like dealing with, stick with them. You should build rapport with 1 or 2 scrap yards and their workers you talk with.
If you start to sell more frequent loads, create an account with them so that they can track on their system how much business you are bringing in.
Using that information, later on, you can ask for a better price leveraging the relationship you build and the amount of business you bring in.
What is E-Scrap?
E-Scrap refers to electronic equipment like cell phones, CPU towers, motherboards, laptops, and other electronic equipment. Be sure to ask the scrap yard nearest to you if they accept E-Scrap because some scrapyards only recycle large pieces of metal.
How do I get paid for my scrap metal?
You will receive a voucher which you can redeem at an ATM or at the scrapyard’s office to receive your cash.
Do I have to remove, wood, plastic or rubber from appliances before I scrap them?
No, you do not have to remove those materials and can scrap appliances whole. However, if there is a large piece of wood, plastic, rubber, or other non-metallic material attached to the appliance, the scrap yard may not accept it.
How big does my load of metal have to be to scrap it at the scrap yard?
There is no limit to the size or weight of the scrap metal you want to cash. Most scrap yards will accept any amount, but the bigger the load the more money you will get.