How to Properly Recycle an Air Conditioner

Did you know that United States Federal Law requires that all room air conditioners must be stripped of their various refrigerants, oils, and other potentially poisonous compounds before the steel and other metals can be recycled?

Many utilities across the country offer consumers incentives and run recycling events for old, inefficient air conditioners. If you have an old air conditioner you’d like to recycle and replace with a newer, more efficient unit, check out Energy Star’s Database for Incentives and Joint Marketing Exchange (DIME) web page to find an air conditioner recycling program near you.

Recycling Your Air Conditioner

IMPORTANT: Removing Freon is one part of the air conditioner recycling process that must be taken care of by a licensed HVAC professional. Removing or handling any kind of refrigerant is illegal without obtaining a Section 608 Type 1,2,3, or Universal License.

As noted above, it’s important to confirm that whoever removes your refrigerant has obtained the proper licensing. The last thing you want is to find yourself in legal trouble for improper disposal when recycling your air conditioner.

Once the refrigerant has been properly removed you can begin dismantling the AC unit for scrap parts. Collect aluminum coils, the motor, and the radiator for the most valuable parts of the unit. Scrap metal collectors and sellers often seek out old air conditioners because of their many valuable parts.

PRO TIP: have a magnet handy to test various metal components of the unit. Aluminum, copper, and some of the steel components such as the shell, grill, screws and fan are all worth money as well. If your old air conditioning unit has a digital display, it has a motherboard that may contain a small amount of gold.

Recycling All That Metal

Once you’ve properly disassembled the air conditioning unit, it’s time to find a reliable scrap yard to sell it to. In Fort Collins, Aragon Iron and MetalARC Thrift, and the City of Loveland Recycling Center are all good options to sell your scrap metals and other materials recovered from your old AC unit.

If disassembling your air conditioning unit sounds like too much work, there are scrap yards and recycling facilities where you can leave your AC unit and walk away. Many scrappers are all looking for AC units because of their many valuable parts.


When it’s finally time to say goodbye to your air conditioning unit, there are several things that you must consider. While it might initially seem easier to just take your old air conditioning unit to the dump, you may actually be able to reap a bit of cash by recycling your old air conditioning unit. It’s a win-win: you get some extra money and you’re doing your part to reduce waste in landfills.