You're probably doing your share to keep the planet healthy by recycling paper and plastic products, but like many people, you may be a bit confused when it comes to scrap metal recycling. However, once you learn a few basics, this is a fast and easy process that will not only help you rid your home of old appliances and other metal items, but will net you a few dollars for your efforts. Following are six commonly found scrap metals that you may be able to turn into money.
Copper generally brings a high price at scrap yards, and is usually found in most households in the form of wiring. It can also be found in roofing materials, plumbing pipes, and on the interior of some HVAC units. You'll probably run across opportunities to recycle copper during the course of home improvement projects involving wiring, roof replacements, and HVAC replacement or repair. Copper is rust-red in color and can have greenish areas where the metal has slightly corroded.
Brass s usually found in household hardware such as door and cabinet handles, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, and at the end of copper pipes. An alloy created from mixing copper and zinc, brass is a rich reddish-brown in color that displays a high gleam when properly polished. Next to copper, brass generally brings the highest price at scrap metal yards. However, if you've got unique brass fixtures, you may want to investigate selling them to a private party. Many people are paying top dollar from old, intact brass fixtures to use in new construction.
Aluminum is found in almost all parts of the home, from gutters to exterior siding to window casings. If anyone in your household drinks soda or beer that comes in aluminum cans, you probably already have some experience with recycling this metal. It's light silver in color and is often painted white. Although aluminum isn't worth much at the scrap yard, recycling it is a preferable option to putting it into a landfill.
Like aluminum, steel is found in a huge variety of items. Most household appliances contain large amounts of steel -- a refrigerator manufactured before 2001, for instance, may contain as much as 100 pounds of steel. It's also widely used in household construction.Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon and is a dull silver when left unpainted. Steel can be recycled an indefinite number of times because its properties don't change no matter how much time goes by.
Lead can be found in batteries, construction materials, old bullets, the original plumbing fixtures in homes that were build before World War II, and in scientific and medical equipment. It's very important that lead be recycled rather than tossed into landfills. Proper recycling procedures will prevent lead from ending up in groundwater supplies. Not only does this harm local ecosystems by killing fish and other aquatic life, lead in the groundwater also poses a threat to human health. Although lead doesn't bring much money on the open market, recycling it is the environmentally responsible thing to do.
Precious metals such as gold can also be sold to scrap metal yards. This is advised for old pieces of jewelry that are no longer wearable due to corrosion or other types of damage. However, you should make certain to remove any jewels prior to selling old gold jewelry to a scrap yard. Gold can also be found as electronics connectors in devices such as cell phones -- in fact, according to U.S. Global Investors, the average cell phone contains about 50 cents worth of gold!