How To Dispose Of Your Water Heater – 2021 Complete Guide

| Last Updated: June 15, 2021

The complexity of disposing of your old water heater can vary greatly; it can include asking someone to haul the old unit away or taking matters into your own hands as a DIY enthusiast and repurposing the old unit. 

In this article, we look at some of the issues concerning disposing of your old water heater. We’ll give you some ideas on how to go about it.

Quick Questions Before Starting

Disposing of your old water heater doesn't have to be a demanding task:

How Difficult is This to Do?

  • This is an easy task to undertake; if you decide to go the repurpose route, it could be a fun project for the whole family.  

How Long Does it Take?

  • Telephone call: 15 minutes

  • Repurposing it: a couple of hours to days

How Much Does it Cost to Dump a Water Heater?

  • $10 to $30 to dump the unit at a city landfill

  • Up to $215 to do it yourself

Items Needed to Dispose of Your Water Heater

If you get a professional company to replace your water heater, then this section will not apply to you. However, if this is something you intend to tackle as a DIY project, then this is what you need: 

Empty The Tank of Water: $40

  • A garden hose: $30

  • A bucket: $10 

Tools You’ll Need: Max $155

  • Hand tools in a carry case: $60  

  • Adjustable wrench: $30 

  • Diagonal cutters: $10

  • Hacksaw: $15

  • Workman's Gloves: $15

  • Eye protection: $10 

  • Dust Mask: $15

Transport

  • U Haul: from $19.95 

How to Dispose of Your Water Heater

Before you dispose of your old water heater, you'll need to replace it. This is a task well within the limits of an everyday handyman with a basic set of tools. 

To help you with the job, here are a couple of videos that show you, step by step, what to do:

  • Replacing an electric water heater
  • Replacing your gas water heater

Once the old water heater is out, there are several ways that you can dispose of it:

Professional Plumbers Will Take the Old Unit Away

If you’ve had a professional company replace your old water heater, they'll take your old unit away when installing the new one. 

Municipal Removal on Certain Days of the Month

Some municipalities will collect and dispose of your old appliances on specific days of the month. 

It will mean holding on to the old water heater for a while until your day comes around. This will ensure that the water heater is safely disposed of for you. 

Contact your local authority and enquire whether they offer this service and when. On the designated day, place the old water heater outside. The municipal workers will collect it on your behalf. 

There may be costs associated with this, so check the prices when contacting them.

Dump the Old Unit at a Municipal Landfill

Dumping your old unit at a municipal landfill is probably the least preferable way to dispose of your old water heater. It’s not environmentally sound and waste dumps are already under pressure. 

Check with your local authorities about the regulations around dumping an old appliance. Many municipalities are incredibly strict about disposing of old appliances, especially pressure vessels. These vessels can collect gasses as they decompose, leading to a risk of explosion. 

Before transporting your old water heater to the dump, ensure that the landfill will accept it. Also double-check how much it will cost you to dump it there. 

If you intend to go this route, try to find a dump with a recycling center attached.

Recycle With a Qualified Recycling Company

If recycling your water heater with a qualified recycling company is your decision, all it will take is a telephone call to dispose of your goods.

Most of them will collect the old water heater from you and ensure that it’s safely recycled. A Google search will find the closest recycling company to where you live. 

Recycle the Old Water Heater Yourself

You can take the old unit apart, separate the components, take them to the recycling center and sell them. Most old water heaters will contain metals such as copper and brass, which are valuable. 

If you have a gas water heater, the gas burner and regulator are also valuable.

The metals in a water heater are worth as much as $20 to $30 if you sell them to a scrap merchant. 

Donate the Old Unit to a Charity

Many charities will be delighted to take your old water heater if it’s still in good working order. 

Search for Goodwill charities in your area or search for reclamation yards and ask if they collect on behalf of charitable institutions. You can also contact Habitat for Humanity.   

Repurpose or Upcycle the Old Water Heater

This is where you can have fun with the entire family as you think of ingenious ways to repurpose the old water heater. These ideas require some power tools; your basic tool kit won’t be enough.

Some ideas are:

  • Make a fire pit: 
  • BBQ grill or smoker: 
  • Plant pots: 

Tips and Safety Considerations When Disposing of Your Water Heater 

As with any DIY task, the safety of you, your family, and your property should be high on your list of priorities.

Personal Protective Equipment

Before you start the job of disposing of your water heater, ensure you have sturdy gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. Also, make sure you have all the tools you'll need for the job at hand, along with a clear plan on how you'll deal with the weight of the old unit.

Weight

When full, water heaters weigh anywhere from 500 to over 1,000 pounds, making it a hazardous object. Ensure that the water heater is empty before you try moving it. If the water heater is old, it may contain a great deal of sediment at the bottom of the tank. 

This will add to its weight and make the drain valve useless. If this is the case, you can drain some of the water through the hot water faucets. The water heater will still contain a fair amount of water, so be aware of the weight and be sure you have a plan to deal with it as you lower it.

Hot Water

Turn the electricity or gas lines to the water heater off some time before you start this task. Struggling with the weight of the unit, as well as very hot water, is a recipe for disaster. 

Don't forget that the pipes leading to the faucets in the house will also be full of water. Make sure you turn on the lowest faucet in the home so all the lines are drained before you disconnect them. Lastly, don't forget to close the cold water inlet.

Conclusion 

Disposing of an old water heater isn’t difficult. There are actually many ways to accomplish it. There’s no excuse for simply dumping this unit in a landfill, and with a bit of care, you can ensure that it’s safely recycled. 

People Also Ask

Here we answer a few of the more common questions that people ask:

Does Home Depot Take Old Water Heaters?

Yes, if Home Depot undertakes the task of replacing your old water heater, they'll haul the old unit away at no cost.

Can You Throw a Water Heater in a Dumpster?

No, you may not throw an old water heater into a dumpster. Dumpsters are tipped into landfills; the tank may collect gas over time and eventually explode.

How Heavy is an Empty Water Heater?

You can roughly calculate the weight of a water heater using 2.6 pounds per gallon of water it will hold. This makes the average weight around 150 pounds.  

Will Local Trash Services Pick Up Water Heaters?

This is dependent upon the area in which you live. Contact your local municipal office and ask if they’ll remove the old unit. 

Many do provide this service, but only on specific days of the month. Other trash dealers will also remove the old tank, but be sure to ask how much they charge before making any arrangements.

How Much is a Water Heater Worth in Scrap?

This depends on the scrap metal prices in force at the time you sell. Metals such as brass, copper, and aluminum will bring a great deal more than the steel that the tank will earn. 

You can expect about:

  • Steel: $6 to $9 for the entire tank

  • Copper: $2 per pound

  • Brass: $1.50 per pound

  • Aluminum: $0.80 per pound

These prices vary and depend on where you live and the going price for scrap metal.



My name is Bob Wells and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs. Find more info about me and HVAC Training 101.