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What to Do With Old Radiators: Complete Recycling Guide

Despite their differences, car radiators and home radiators are essentially the same once they’re old: they leave you wondering what to do with them. Since you know you can’t just throw worn-out radiators, what are the things you can actually do with old radiators?

Among the things that can be done with old radiators are converting, repurposing, recycling, and scrapping. Worn-out radiators can be turned into air conditioners and other things or sold for their metal parts.

This article will serve as your guide to recycling old radiators. This means you’ll learn about the things you can do with worn-out radiators, how to convert radiators into other objects, how to recycle radiators properly, and how to sell a radiator’s parts. Similarly, you’ll learn about common radiator materials and why it’s terrible to improperly throw an obsolete radiator out.

Things You Can Do With Old Radiators

If you’ve had radiators before and just threw or sold them once they malfunctioned, you may be surprised to find that worn-out radiators have other uses besides being radiators. With enough creativity and resourcefulness, you can transform your radiator into an air conditioner. 

You can ask someone to do the conversion for you, or you can opt for other repurposing options. Meanwhile, other radiator repurposing examples include turning it into a table, a chair, or a shelf.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to keep your obsolete radiator, you can choose to scrap it. You can take it apart or have someone take it apart for you and then see which parts can be recycled and sold.

While you won’t make a lot of money from selling a single scrapped radiator, you will be helping the environment by recycling. Moreover, you’re supporting a sustainable future, so it will be worth doing in the long run.

Converting and Repurposing Radiators

If you don’t really need a heater anymore, one of the best things you can do with your old radiator is to convert it into an air conditioner. The steps are achievable and easy even for beginner do-it-yourself enthusiasts, so check out In a Fix’s YouTube video about it:

On the other hand, if you appreciate design and beauty more than anything, you can repurpose your worn-out radiator into various home decors. Preloved has excellent ideas accompanied by pictures. According to them, old radiators can be transformed into tables, chairs, and even lamps.

Meanwhile, if your radiator is old but you don’t want to get rid of it, try disguising it instead. You don’t have to deal with having its aged glory rub on you whenever you see it. To prettify your worn-out radiator, you can paint it, cover it, or turn it into furniture you can place things in.

Recycling and Scrapping Radiators

If you’re given a choice to simply throw something out while knowing it’s bad for the environment in the long run, you probably won’t take it. If you’re given a simple and understandable guide on how to recycle something, you’ll have a greater chance of recycling. 

Recycling is among your best options when getting rid of your old radiator, and it’s not a complicated thing to do either. You can recycle whether or not you have plans on selling your radiator’s scrap metals.

To do so, all you have to do is head on to your local scrapyard. Most of the time, they will accept it and pay you without a fuss. However, sometimes they may also prefer that you hand them only your radiator’s metal part since some radiators come with a plastic shell nowadays.

Guide to Recycling Old Radiators

The first step in recycling your worn-out radiator is to remove its coolant. Radiators contain antifreeze, which is highly useful to them since it lowers their water’s freezing point. However, it can cause significant harm to humans and animals alike, so it should not be carelessly thrown out.

Generally, you’re given three choices when it comes to antifreeze recycling. You can head on to an on-site unit, opt for a mobile unit, or avail of off-site recycling services. An on-site company is a special facility that handles the recycling of toxic materials, a mobile unit is a truck equipped to handle the recycling on-site, and an off-site service comes from companies that offer hazardous waste recycling.

After emptying your radiator, you can either head straight to your local scrapyard or strip your radiator first. If you choose to remove the plastic sheet that often covers newer radiator models, you’ll get a better price for your radiator. However, it’s also fine to just sell your radiator to the scrapyard without peeling it.

If you’re curious about how radiator recycling looks like on a bigger scale, here’s a good YouTube clip from E-Waste Recycling Machinery:

On the other hand, if you want your own wire stripping machine, check out StripMeister’s Automatic Wire Stripper. Automatic wire strippers work well enough for radiators when done right, and it will save you from hard manual labor.

StripMeister Automatic Wire Stripper Machine

Guide to Selling Old Radiators

The best place to sell your old radiator is on your local scrapyard, but you can also do some research and check if there are nearby companies that specifically buy radiator scraps. If you’re curious about scrap metal prices, visit iScrap.

Generally, radiators with copper sell at a higher price than radiators made out of aluminum. Meanwhile, brass is more expensive than steel but lower-priced compared to copper. 

When you’re trying to sell your radiator, it’s wise to look up its metal’s current market price to know what to expect. However, if you don’t really care about how much you’ll earn from scrapping your old radiator, then simply selling it to the first person that offers to buy it would do.

If you want to learn more about radiator and metal scrapping, view Thub Print’s awesome YouTube video for metal scrapping beginners:

Common Radiator Metals

Radiators are often made from copper, brass, steel, aluminum, or cast iron. Aluminum radiators are expensive but can’t be sold at a high price when scrapped. Meanwhile, copper radiators are highly desirable due to their metal value, steel radiators are cheap but effective enough, and brass and cast iron radiators are great for people who value design.

Generally, aluminum radiators are considered the best, but they’re not worth much when scrapped. This is because aluminum as a metal is quite common. However, since aluminum is less affected by age than the other metals, you can easily repurpose your old radiator when the time comes.

Why It’s Bad to Just Throw Your Radiator Out

If you’re here, it’s because you wanted to figure out what to do with your old radiator rather than simply throw it out. You may have also known that it’s bad to improperly throw hazardous waste. Either way, you’re doing the environment and everyone else a great favor by choosing to recycle your worn-out radiator.

Simply throwing your old radiator without following proper procedures will harm the environment, and eventually, you as well. Harmful effects of improperly thrown toxic waste include water pollution, air pollution, poisoning, and a range of other illnesses that can affect humans, animals, and even plants.

Final Thoughts

The things you can do with an old radiator are numerous. If you want to get rid of your worn-out radiator, you can opt to sell it to your local scrapyard. However, if you still want to have your old radiator around, you can transform it into an air conditioner, a table, chair, or lamp.


  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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