If you’re asking yourself: “where can I find a local scrap yard near me?” And you want to learn the basics of selling scrap metal for cash, you’ve come to the right place.
Here you’ll find a one-click search tool and tips to help you find the scrap yard that will pay you the best scrap metal prices.
Scrap metal recycling is a legit way to make extra cash. Instead of just letting it sit in your garage, basement or your business, you could sell it to a scrap yard near you for some extra money.
In this article, we’ll cover some useful ways to earn more money from your scrap metal. Here’s the best tips you should consider before selling your items to the scrap yard.
What is a scrap yard and how does a scrap yard work?
So you may be wondering what is a metal scrap yard and how does it work? Metal scrap yards are in the business of purchasing metal products for processing and recycling. They attract homeowners, contractors and businesses who want to sell their used, damaged, left over or waste metal and be paid by its weight.
Broadly speaking, scrap yards accept materials that fall into one of these three categories: ferrous metals (such as steel), non-ferrous metals (such as copper) and electronics (which contain precious metals such as platinum).
The amount you’ll get paid for your scrap metal depends on several factors:
- The category of metal you have
- Its grade (more on that later) and
- Its weight
Because they use heavy machinery and need a lot of space to operate, most scrap yards are in out-of-the-way locations. But you’ll find them relatively close to urban areas to secure access to plenty of scrap materials.
Also, each state has different laws and regulations applicable to scrap yards near you. These regulations are necessary to protect the parties involved. So when you visit the scrap yard, you’ll need to provide a form of ID. The scrap yard also will keep records of your transaction with them.
How can I make more money when I sell to a scrap yard?
When selling your scrap metal, it’s important to know the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Knowing this distinction can help you make more cash.
Ferrous metals have iron in them and non-ferrous metals do not. Why does that matter? Because non-ferrous metals are less plentiful and are typically more expensive than ferrous metals.
In addition, non-ferrous metals can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing their properties. Pound-for-pound your local scrap yard will pay you more money for non-ferrous metals such as copper and aluminum.
Distinguishing between metal categories is simple. Just put a magnet to it. Any kind of magnet will do. If it sticks to it, it’s ferrous. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.
» Further reading: For additional ways to make money, check out these 23 Smart Ways to Make Money From Home.
Examples of ferrous and non-ferrous metals
Some examples of ferrous metals and the kinds of products where you can typically find them are highlighted in the table below.
|Ferrous Metal Type||Found In|
|Cast Iron||Furnaces, cast iron skillets, waffle irons, deep fryers, and auto components such as gears, axles, camshafts.|
|Light Iron||Household appliances like dishwashers, washers, dryers and water heaters.|
|Stainless Steel||Pots and pans, tableware and cutlery, kitchen sinks, garden equipment, furniture.|
|Steel||Cars, rebar, structural steel, tubular furniture, fencing.|
Examples of non-ferrous metals and the products where you can find them include the following.
|Non-Ferrous Metal Type||Found In|
|Aluminum||Ladders, gutters, window frames, sinks, faucets, siding, beach chairs, soda cans.|
|Brass||Brass faucets, RV water pressure regulators and elbow fittings, musical instruments, radiator cores.|
|Copper||Domestic water pipes, wires, occasionally in premium roofing materials.|
In addition to the metal’s category, scrap yards also classify scrap metals by their grade. And some metal grades make you more money than others. Take copper for example. Copper can come in various grades, including what is known in the industry as bare bright, #1 and #2.
Bare bright copper will make you the most money. This grade is copper wire or cable that is uncoated and bare. The next most profitable grade is grade #1. It’s copper that’s free of liquids and dirt. Grade #2 is the least profitable of the three. It’s somewhat dirty and has paint on it or it’s otherwise coated.
» Further reading: If you’re interested in additional ways to make money, check out these 21 Simple Ways to Make Money Online.
Average scrap yard prices for common types of scrap metal
Before you head out to your local scrap yard, you should have a good idea of the current scrap metal prices of the items you want to sell. Be sure to make a few phone calls to confirm that you’re getting the best price from the yard of your choice.
Know your average scrap metal prices ahead of time
Different scrap yards tend to specialize in certain scrap metals, and they’ll be able to offer you better prices on certain items. So once you know the price range you can expect, call a few scrap yards near you and visit their websites to find the ones who will pay you top dollar for your items.
Another consideration is that scrap metal prices change over time depending on market conditions. So when you get prices from any source, it’s always a good idea to check the date when those prices were quoted. This will save you disappointment, and more importantly, time and effort when you visit the nearest scrap yard of your choice.
Below you’ll find indicative average prices for various scrap metals as of the date of this article. If you want more recent prices, check out www.iscrapapp.com/prices. The prices they quote are not necessarily the prices that scrap yards near you will offer, but are a good reference point for you to consider.
Indicative average scrap metal prices:
The table below provides indicative average national prices for select scrap metals.
|Scrap Metal Type||Indicative Ave. Price*
|Bare Bright Copper Wire||$2.52 / Ib|
|#1 Copper Tubing||$2.40 / Ib|
|#2 Copper Tubing||$2.20 / Ib|
|Insulated Copper Wire||$0.68 / Ib|
|Brass||$1.32 / Ib|
|Aluminum Siding||$0.26 / Ib|
|Aluminum Radiators||$0.26 / Ib|
|Car or Truck Batteries||$0.15 / Ib|
|Stainless Steel||$0.30 / Ib|
|Hard Drives||$0.35 / Ib|
|Personal Computer Towers||$0.11 / Ib|
Make more money from your scrap metals by separating them before going to the recycling yard
Sometimes your scrap materials will consist of valuable scrap metals that are joined or fused to less valuable ones. For example, if you’re recycling air conditioners or radiators, you’ll come across HVAC coils.
These coils use copper tubes and aluminum fins, which are valuable, but will often come with a steel bracket along the side. Cutting off the steel bracket will make you more money at the scrap yard.
By the way, if you recycle these coils, make sure they’re free of freon / CFC’s as many local scrap yards won’t accept them if the gas hasn’t been removed.
If you aren’t sure what kind of scrap metals for cash you have, try to separate them the best you can before heading out to a scrap yard near you.
Common and popular items you can sell to a scrap yard or metal recycling yard
You might be asking: which household items are popular to sell to a scrap yard? Below is a list of common everyday items sold at scrap yards:
- Air conditioner units
- Aluminum rims
- Aluminum siding
- Car and truck batteries
- Christmas lights
- Computer towers
- Copper piping
- Electric motors
- Metal sinks and bathtubs
- Washers, dryers, dishwashers
Here’s additional tips that will help you get more money out of your scrap materials when visiting a scrap yard near you:
Additional tips to sell your scrap household items to a scrap yard
» Air conditioning units: They come with several scrap metal components that can be sold individually or scrapped whole. Individual components include the copper tubing, the electric motor, and the aluminum fins.
» Aluminum rims: You can get different prices for your aluminum rims depending on whether the lead wheel weights and rubber valves are still attached (lower price), whether the rims are coated in chrome (lower price) and whether the rims are clean (higher price).
» Aluminum siding: When selling aluminum siding, check that it’s free of plastic coatings, foam, dirt and steel, including steel nails. That way you’ll get a better price when you sell it at your local scrap yard.
» Car and truck batteries: In addition to car and truck batteries, some scrap yards accept forklift batteries as well. Scrap yards that take batteries usually accept lead-acid batteries, steel case batteries and cell site batteries.
» Cars: When selling a car for its scrap metal, it’s a good idea to get quotes from several scrap yards near you. You can also negotiate the pick up service if you can’t drive the car to the scrap yard.
» Christmas lights: Christmas lights have copper wiring. To maximize the price you can get from them, remove the plugs and bulbs from your scrap Christmas lights and separate them from your other wires.
» Computer towers: You’ll get a better price from computer towers if the hard drive is still inside. That’s because the hard drive has components with precious metals that the scrap yard can recycle and sell.
» Copper piping: As mentioned earlier in this article, copper piping / tubing comes in different grades. You’ll get more money for #1 copper tubing, which is bare, uncoated and unalloyed copper.
» Electric motors: Electric motors usually have copper coils inside the unit. While you could try to remove the copper from the motor and sell it separately, it’s time consuming. It’s usually best to sell them by the pound. Just make sure there’s as little steel attached to it as possible to maximize the price for your scrap metal.
» Metal sinks and bathtubs: Most stainless steel sinks have a steel ring at the bottom and will get you a lower price at the scrap yard if it isn’t removed.
» Microwaves: Smaller appliances such as microwaves can generally be sold at a light iron scrap price. So it’s a good idea to take them apart if you’ll be selling the components together with other items. Also, be sure to check with the scrap yard near you what’s the minimum weight required before they’ll pay you for your scrap metal.
» Refrigerators: You must get the freon / CFC’s removed from refrigerators by a licensed HVAC professional. If you do it yourself, and the gas is released, you could be fined by the EPA.
» Washers, dryers, dishwashers: Some scrap yards will buy each appliance at a fixed price instead of weighting them. Be sure to ask ahead of time before taking them to the yard.
Best ways for getting money for scrap metal
Selling your scrap metal can make you some easy extra cash. Here are our top three recommendations for getting the most money out of your scrap materials.
1. Check the minimum weight of scrap metal that the scrap yard will take
Some scrap yards have a minimum weight for certain types of scrap metal they’ll take before they pay you. If the weight of your items is below this minimum, they’ll take your scrap metal for recycling, but won’t pay you for it.
This limitation is more common for ferrous metals which are more plentiful and carry lower prices. Calling the scrap yard ahead of time will alert you to any such limitations.
2. Sort and organize your scrap metal before going to the recycling yard near you
Before taking your metal to the scrap yard, make sure you spend some time preparing it. For example, if you have different grades of copper and you don’t separate them beforehand, the scrap yard will pay you the price of the lowest grade in the pile.
Also, scrap yards won’t encourage you to sort your scrap materials in their premises. Though there can be some exceptions, they don’t have an incentive to let you sort your wares and pay you top dollar.
The same limitation applies materials like insulated cable. If you have copper wire you need to strip, it’s best to strip it before you go to the scrap yard.
3. Get price quotes from several scrap yards before choosing one
Doing some research beforehand can help you get top dollar for your items. If you’re recycling copper, for example, determine the grade of copper you have. Get price quotes from several scrap yards and ask them if they have metals in which they specialize.
Check the scrap yard’s website. Do they quote prices? Can you submit images of the materials you want to sell? Do they have one location or several?
A transparent website with quoted prices and a frequently asked questions page is generally a good sign. Scrap yards with multiple locations do higher business volumes and may be able to pay better prices. Importantly, though, make sure you give them a call and get all your questions answered.
How do I find a scrap yard near me?
We’ve made it simple to find a scrap yard near you. Just click the button below. It’ll open a new tab listing scrap yards near you together with a Google map. The recycling locations will display users’ ratings, when available.
» Further reading: Would you like to get out of debt faster? Learn how with our free Shed Debt Faster guide.
Scrap yards typically only provide pick up services for commercial and industrial accounts. You might be able to find some scrap yards who will pick up scrap metal from your home, but it will depend on the weight of the material you want to scrap.
Yes, you will need an ID to sell scrap metal to a scrap yard. Most states have laws and regulations that require transaction records and an ID of the selling party.
Yes, but heavily rusted metal weighs less than clean metal and it’ll earn you less money. Standards do vary for different scrap yards, so be sure to call ahead to confirm their policies regarding rusted metals.
Always separate your ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals such as copper, aluminum and brass are worth significantly more money than ferrous metals such as steel and iron.