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How to Dispose of a Water Heater? (Quick & Simple)

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

how to dispose of a water heater

You just bought the latest and most efficient water heater and are ready to install it for the whole family to enjoy. But wait! What will you do with the old one? Do you know how to dispose of a water heater?

Most homeowners do not think about the correct disposal of water heating systems once they have a brand-new one. If you are in a similar predicament, worry no more because we will share several ways to dispose of hot water heater appliances safely and effectively.

Table of Contents

Step-by-step to Get Rid of Water Heater Units

What to prepare

You do not need to prepare anything to get rid of water heater units from your home. However, you might need a few cutting tools if you decide to “cannibalize” the appliance and sell the parts.

Step 1: Disconnect the water heater from its power source.


  • Always shut off the water heater’s fuel source before any form of activity. Switch off the circuit breaker, and if the unit has an electric plug, unplug that, too.
  • Use a noncontact voltage tester or detector to assess the electrical current in the water heater’s cables. If the tester beeps or flashes, it means there’s still electrical present.
  • You can start disconnecting the electrical wiring once you ascertain there is no electricity running through the water heater.

Step 2. Drain the tank.

  • Turn off the cold water inlet shutoff valve and open a hot water faucet near the heater. This action will help relieve pressure in the plumbing system and make water evacuation more effortless.
  • Connect a flexible water hose to the water heater drain valve and place the tube’s opposite end over a floor drain, in a bucket, or in the garden (if it is long enough). Open the drain valve and empty the water in the tank.

Step 3. Remove the tank.


  • Saw off the water pipes and other plumbing fixtures “hard-plumbed” to the water heater. Use a wrench to remove the tank from its mount.
  • When handling a saw, it’s essential that you wear your personal protection equipment. So put on safety goggles, work gloves, ear muffs, and a shirt with long sleeves if you haven’t already.

Step 4: Harvest recyclable parts.

At this point, you can call a recycling company for convenient disposal of water heater units; it’s also possible to save some bucks by doing the job yourself.

  • Start cutting the water heater’s pipes and fittings and harvesting brass, copper, or iron. Open the tank and disassemble the anode rod, an excellent source of magnesium, aluminum, and aluminum-tin-zinc alloy.
  • Disconnect the gas regulator from the water heater and resell it as is. Some scrap yards put a higher purchase price for gas regulators than other water heater components.
  • Electric water heaters might have different metals, such as stainless steel and zinc-plated copper.

Step 5. Categorize the parts.


  • Use a magnet to determine which water heater part has a metallic material. Non-ferrous components can still fetch you a decent price. After all, recycling companies know what to do with these materials.
  • Collect the scraps, categorize them, and place them into organizer boxes. Bring these materials to the scrapyard and sell them.

Other Ways to Dispose of a Water Heater

Here are other ways on what to do with old water heater units.

1. Donate


Donating an old but still-functional water heater is the most sensible thing to do. You are helping another family enjoy the many benefits of hot water use.

2. Sell on Craigslist and other online commerce platforms

This trick is almost similar to donating the water heater, except you post it on e-commerce platforms that allow selling pre-owned or second-hand units.

3. Hire a junk removal company


Some companies will gladly come to your house, uninstall the water heater, and remove it from your property for a fee. Some might even clean up the vacated space.

4. Throw it in the garbage

Contact your garbage collector and ask them if you can include an old water heater in your garbage bin. At least, you will never worry about where to dispose of your dilapidated water heating appliance.

5. Bring the water heater to the landfill


This method is your last recourse because most states have strict laws about what you can dump in landfills. You might want to call the local landfill and check if they have a water heater recycling program. Expect a fee for this service.

Water Heater Recyclable


Some homeowners ask, “are water heaters recyclable?” Yes, water heating systems are recyclable. Recycling is the best option for most homeowners.

You can contact a local recycling company for information about giving up the old water heater for them to process. It is worth noting that water heaters contain different metals. For example, copper is present in electrical wiring, water heater pipe fittings, and heating elements.

Most recycling companies observe a water heater recycling price depending on the current market value of scrapped metals. You can earn cash by bringing an intact (not disassembled) water heater.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. How much is an old hot water heater worth?

Old water heater disposal units can fetch you $7 to $30 at a local scrap yard. However, the price depends on prevailing metal market prices.

You can harvest iron, brass, or copper from water heater pipes and fittings. Meanwhile, magnesium, aluminum, and copper are present in water heater anode rods. Electric water heaters also have stainless steel or zinc-plated copper for the access panels.

These metals have their respective values, allowing scrapyards to determine the most appropriate disposal cost. On the other hand, you will get a better value for your gas water heater if you sell it whole.

2. Cost to dispose of a water heater?

Disposing of used water heaters should not cost you a dime if you plan carefully.

If your water heater still works, donating it will not cost you anything. Instead, you are helping another family enjoy the benefits of having hot water in their home.

Most homeowners recycle water heater for money, earning cash instead of spending to remove old water heaters from their properties.

However, some recycling companies charge you a fee for disposing of the water heater.

You can toss these appliances into the garbage bin if you do not want to donate or recycle old water heater units.


You have several options to master how to dispose of a water heater. Recycling services offer the best solution for converting water heater materials into equally-useful items. Meanwhile, scrap yards and similar organizations can pay you for the old water heater, whole or parts.

Donating the unit or selling it on Craigslist are also sensible options, allowing you to help other families enjoy hot water in their homes. You can also include it in your trash, hire a junk removal service, or bring the water heater to the landfill (provided the law allows for it).

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