What To Do With Old Water Heaters? (Find Out Now!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Water heaters are essential for modern life, providing hot water to bathe with or scrub the dishes. But what happens when your water heater stops working, or it is time for an upgrade? Many homeowners are left questioning what to do with an old water heater.

Functioning old water heaters can be donated to charities like Goodwill. Broken water heaters can be recycled, tossed in the trash, or reused to do DIY projects at home. Certain water heaters may be sold for scrap if they contain valuable metals like copper, steel, or brass.

Of course, before putting your water heater out for the trash or hauling your water heater to the local recycling center, it is a good idea to call ahead of time. In many areas, you’ll need to schedule a special pick-up to accommodate such a large and heavy appliance.

Before recycling your water heater, check local ordinances that may require a photo ID to recycle a water heater. Turning your old water heater into a fun planter, functional smoker, or even a solar-powered water heater is the perfect way to upcycle and reuse an otherwise wasted product.

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How Can I Remove an Old Water Heater?

If your water heater is no longer working or simply looking for an upgrade, you’ll need to remove the old water heater first. Operations differ between gas-powered and electric water heaters. To remove a water heater, you should first empty the tank and then:

Gas Water Heater

Step 1: Locate Shutoff Valve

Usually, the main valve is located on the supply line. Follow the supply line until you reach the lever.

Step 2: Turn Off Supply

Turn off the gas supply by turning the level 90 degrees to shut off the gas.

Step 3: Disconnect

Disconnect the supply line and remove the water heater. Find a friend to help because most water heaters will weigh about 150 pounds.

Electric Water Heater

Step 1: Locate Power Supply

An electric water heater will be connected to your electric panel, usually located in the basement or garage. Find the breaker that corresponds with the water heater and turn the breaker off.

Step 2: Confirm

Use a voltmeter by attaching the test leads to your water heater. When there is no reading across your water heater, it is safe to continue disconnection and removal.

Step 3: Remove

Using a wrench, you’ll want to disconnect the hard lines plumbed to your water heater. After disconnecting, remove the water heater in preparation for its replacement.

Can I Recycle a Water Heater?

Recycling an old water heater is a great way to keep your old appliance out of a landfill. Often, recycling centers will disassemble the heater and use the metal and parts to create other products. Usually, a water heater contains steel and brass, which can be easily recycled and made into other components.

You’ll want to check with your local recycling centers ahead of time to ensure they have the availability and space to take a large appliance. Rules and regulations vary from state to state, with some states requiring an ID to recycle the water heater. Be sure to check your local restrictions and limitations in your particular area before driving an old water heater to your recycling center.

Can I Sell a Water Heater for Scrap?

Those that are willing to invest a little elbow grease can end up making some cash from their broken or old water heater by scrapping the appliance for the metal parts. Many water heaters have some valuable metals, including brass and copper, that can be sold for some extra cash. Making some money from your old water heater could even help you pay for a new one.

You can use a magnet on your old water heater to confirm the heater contains valuable metals. If the magnet sticks to the heater, you have an appliance that is worth money. If the magnet does not stick, you most likely will not make much on your heater in scrap. Even if you don’t have valuable metals in your water heater, you may be able to remove the gas control valve, also called a gas regulator, and sell this item separately.

Can I Throw a Water Heater in the Trash?

If your water heater is no longer in working condition, it is possible to throw your water heater in with the trash simply. Local areas may offer special curbside pick-up to handle large appliances like water heaters. In most areas, you’ll have to contact your local waste management company to schedule a pick-up time to dispose of your water heater properly. Simply putting your water heater out with the trash is a quick, easy, and effective way to get rid of a broken appliance.

Can I Donate a Water Heater?

If your water heater is still in reasonable and working condition, you may donate your water heater to charity. Many homeowners simply upgrading their water heater will have an old heater that is in perfectly good shape.

Donation centers, like Goodwill, are usually willing to accept home appliances like water heaters. Be sure to contact your local Goodwill store ahead of time to arrange a drop-off. Plus, by donating your water heater, you’ll be able to claim your charitable donation on your taxes. Salvation Army centers will take used but working appliances like a water heater in some parts of the country.

What Can I Make with a Water Heater?

Using your water heater to do a DIY project at home is an excellent way not only to create something unique and original but to reuse and repurpose an otherwise useless appliance. Some great options for DIY projects using your water heater include:

  • Planter – Use your water heater to create a planter for your garden. You can easily cut your water heater in half or cut out sections to make individual planter spots. If you are feeling extra creative, try cutting latticework patterns into the side of the heater. Your new planter will be perfect for flowers or vegetables.
  • Smoker – Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a new smoker, try to turn your old water heater into a DIY version of the backyard appliance. The cylindrical shape of the water heater makes it the ideal shape for a smoker. You’ll need to have some welding experience, but the design and execution are straightforward.
  • Solar Water Heater – If your old water heater is still in good shape and isn’t leaking, it can be transformed into a solar water heater. You need to modify the water heater by removing the outer casing and insulation. The heater should be painted with heat-resistant black paint. Then, house your water tank inside a house that has the interior covered with reflective material. Add a large pane window, similar to a greenhouse, and you’re ready to go!

Do You Need Water Heater Installation or Replacement?

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Related Questions

How Much Can I Earn from a Water Heater?

Selling your water heater for scrap metal is a great way to earn some extra cash. At a traditional scrapyard, you can expect to earn between $7 and $30 for your metal. Usually, a hot water heater will provide a total of 150 pounds of metal, including steel, copper, iron, and aluminum.

Will my plumber take the water heater?

If you are simply replacing your water heater with a new model and have hired a professional plumber, there is a significant likelihood that your plumber will take the old water heater with them. Many companies include water heater disposal as part of the job. If you have hired a professional plumber, be sure to ask about how the old heater will be removed from your home.

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Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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