Disposing of a Hot Water Heater

Boiler repair, replacement of broken water heating element.

While it might not be the most visible part of your home it is something that you use every day, your water heater. While it may work quietly in the background, once it breaks down you’ll need to replace it quickly.

Hot water heaters can be dumped either by a professional company or by the owner. The owner can save money by doing it themselves but will pay to leave it at a landfill or recycling center. Professionals will take the tank for a fee usually added onto an installation fee for a new tank.

However, if you decide to dispose of your water heater you want to make sure you do it right. Read below for some tips and tricks on disposing properly of your hot water heater.

Dumping your water heater

While your water heater is reliable it won’t last forever. Most water heaters on the market today have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years, with some extremely well-maintained water heaters lasting up to 15 years. Hot water heaters are made up of two layers, the outer shell, and the inner water tank. Over time minerals in the water build on the bottom of the water tank and start to corrode through the metal. Once this corrosion works its way through the tank begins to leak and the water heater needs to be dumped.

The easiest option for a leaking water heater is to dump it. Most landfill and waste treatment plants will accept water heaters. The only thing you will have to do is get the water heater to the location. Depending on the size of the tank this could pose a challenge. The larger the tank is the larger your vehicle will need to be to haul it successfully. Luckily most homes have 40 or 50-gallon tanks which aren’t massive but might require a couple of people to move them successfully.

Before you take your water heater out to the landfill you will want to check what your local location’s policies are. While doing research I found that all the locations I looked at had different ways that they handled water heaters. I listed some of the locations in the chart below. Some common things to keep in mind as you look at their website or call them are whether they accept large appliances and the cost of use.

Salt Lake City, Utah$32 a ton, minimum of $15
Madison County, Idaho$2 a unit
Orange County, California$5 – 25, depending on weight
Palm Springs, Florida$42 a ton

Your location may have similar costs or a completely different way of handling dumped water heaters. Some like Palm Springs just charge you based on a per-ton basis. Others like Salt Lake may have a minimum charge that you cannot avoid. Others may just take the tank for a small fee. This would be the best option because it saves you the most money out of all the options.

Removing your water heater yourself

If you would like to save some money you can always remove your old hot water heater yourself. Make sure that you have an extra pair of hands around to help you as you detach and move your water heater. Before you start removal you’ll want to check a couple of things. Have a vehicle available to load the water heater onto so you only have to move it once. Make sure the power is disconnected from your water heater so you don’t shock yourself as you begin handling any wires.

For larger water heaters (over 100 gallons) or older heaters, you will want to check the manufactures information. These particular heaters can have mercury components that need to be removed before you dump your water heater. Check here for more information on identifying and removing these parts.

It may be helpful to have a video explaining the different steps to removing a water heater open to the side as you work on yours. Here is a video I found that has over 900,000 views giving a brief outline of removing a water heater.

Companies that can remove it for you

If you don’t have the tools or the manpower you can always have a professional company remove your hot water heater for you. These companies generally have a lot of experience removing and moving these water heaters. While looking for a company to remove your heater look for reviews about the company on their professionality and cleanliness.

If you are having trouble finding a local company near you, large junk companies like 1- 800 – GOT JUNK and Junk King are in many locations around the United States. These companies are known for their quick work and may even offer same-day pick up when you call them. These are also a good alternative if you don’t want your water heater to end up clogging a landfill. These companies strive to recycle and reuse as much of the junk they pick up as possible. This is a great option if you want to reduce the amount of trash you are contributing to your local dump.

If you are getting a replacement hot water heater, the installation company may be willing to remove your old water heater for you. Whether they are a plumbing company or the company that sold you the new heater if they have experience installing a water heater there is a good chance they can remove one as well. While this can be a hassle-free option, having one company install and remove it at the same time, it may not be the best option if you are worried about cost. They will likely tack on a hefty fee to remove and haul your old tank, on top of the price for your new tank and its installation fee.

Alternatives to dumping your heater

If you want to avoid a landfill you can always try and find a scrap company. Water heaters have several different types of metal like steel, copper, and brass that are valuable to scrappers. They will separate these pieces and reuse them in different items. These companies will often pay you when you deliver the water heater to their business. Some may even offer free pickup. You’ll want to avoid companies that charge you for them to take the water heater off your hands.

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