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If you’re looking for a “scrap yard near me”, you probably have some scrap metal lying around.
Did you know that the scrap yard will not only take your metal scraps but will actually pay you money for it?
Some of the most common metals purchased are copper, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, bronze, and lead.
Most will also buy household items such as electronics, appliances, cars, boats, motorcycles, pots, pans, shelving, and more.
A few years back, I renovated my kitchen and was getting quotes for $50-$100 where I was actually paying someone to pick up my old appliances. I ended up visiting a local scrap yard near me where instead of paying someone to take the old appliances, I got paid.
The old saying “one man’s junk is another’s treasure” is so true!
Before you head to your local scrapyard, make sure you’ve done your research to make sure you’re making the most money with your scrap metal.
Here are some steps and tips to help with your visit.
What Is a Scrap Metal Yard
First off, it’s helpful to know what a scrap yard actually is. A scrap metal yard is a place that recycles ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals, as well as old appliances and old vehicles that are no longer suitable for the road.
The scrap metal yards collect metal items by paying customers for bringing in their scraps. The prices paid are generally by the pound. The scrap metal is then sold to refineries where it’s melted down and can eventually be used to manufacture new products.
The most frequent customers include those in the trades (electricians, contractors, plumbers, construction companies) as well as homeowners who may be renovating their house (kitchen/bathroom).
According to IBISWorld, scrap metal recycling is a $29 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone.
How Does the Scrap Yard Near Me Make Money?
Scrap yards make money by buying metals from customers and selling to refiners.
Specifically, their goal is to buy metal when prices are low and sell when they’re high. If they purchase a certain type of metal when prices are low, they can hold onto it hoping prices increase.
They are also making money on the ‘spread’ of what they’re willing to purchase scrap metal at and what they can sell it at.
For example, if copper is selling at $3 per pound to refiners, scrap yards will most likely pay you $1.5-$2 per pound. They are instantly making a gross profit of $1-$1.50 per pound.
Lastly, scrap yards may sell salvaged parts from purchased items like washing machines, dryers, and cars.
What Scrap Metal Can I sell at a Scrap Yard Near Me?
- Stainless steel
Additional items for homeowners to consider
- Appliances – washing machines, dryers, ranges, stoves, toasters, microwaves, AC units, and heaters
- Wiring – electrical wiring (especially copper wiring) and power cables
- Copper tubing (probably the hottest item)
- Electronics – computers, televisions, camcorders, game consoles and, cell phones
- Stainless steel sinks
Step 1: Determine the Type of Scrap Metal You Have
The first step in determining the type of metal you have is to grab a magnet. If the magnet sticks to your metal, it’s a ferrous metal and therefore iron or steel. Ferrous metals contain iron, which is what causes it to be magnetic.
Ferrous metals are not very valuable and it may not be worth your time to bring to the scrap yard.
If the magnet doesn’t stick then it is non-ferrous. Non-ferrous metals are more valuable and may be worth your time.
The next step is to determine what type of non-ferrous metal you have.
Copper is a non-ferrous metal, meaning it does not contain iron and will not be attracted to a magnet. It has a reddish-brown color and is the most sought after metal by most scrap yards. Common products that use copper are pipes, electrical wiring, Christmas lights, sinks, flashing, and electronics.
Brass is a non-ferrous metal. It has a yellow-orange color and will have a heavier feel to it. Common products that use brass are decorative household applications, instruments, valves, and pipes.
Lead is a non-ferrous metal. It has a dark grey color and will also have a heavier feel to it. Lead is very malleable, meaning it can be bent easily. A good test for lead is to scratch it with a key. If it scratches easily, it’s probably lead. Common products that use lead are statues and pipes.
Aluminum is a non-ferrous metal. It has a light silver color and will feel lighter than other metals. Common products that use aluminum are cans, gutters, bikes, ladders, and sinks.
Stainless Steel is a ferrous metal, but not magnetic. It has a dark silver-grey color. Common products that use stainless steel are cookware, kitchen appliances, and sinks.
Step 2: Find Out How Much Your Scrap Metal is Worth
One of the most important steps before physically visiting a scrap yard is to get an idea of what your metal is worth.
A great place to start your research is by visiting iscrap app. This site provides over 30 different types of metal and estimated prices per pound/ton/each.
In order to test the prices, I called a local scrap yard near me and asked what the price of copper was selling at per pound. The price quoted by the scrapyard was $1.90-$2.00 for copper tubing. iscrap app showed a value of $1.88-$1.95, almost spot on.
Once you’ve visited iscrap app to get a general idea, the next step is to call your local scrap yards to get their quotes.
It’s in your best interest to call several scrap yards to get their quotes. You can even use other quotes to try and negotiate a price.
I ended up calling four different scrap yards near me to get an idea of the different prices each was willing to pay.
Copper – $1.60|$1.75|$1.90|$2.00
Stainless Steel – $0.15|$0.16|$0.20|$0.20
Aluminum – $0.15 x 2|$0.20 x 2
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how calling a few scrap yards near you can make you more money. If I were bringing 100 pounds of copper in, my calling effort would have made me an extra $40.
What Can Affect Your Scrap Metal Price
Supply and demand will have the biggest influence on scrap metal prices. If there’s little demand for the metal for manufacturing, then prices will be lower. If demand is high, then you’ll most likely get a premium for your scrap metal.
The other factor that can affect the price paid for your scrap metal is the quality. If your scrap has corrosion, the scrap yard may need to spend time cleaning it, charging you for the time spent.
More Scrap Metal = More Negotiating Power
If you’re heading to the scrapyard with 5-10 pounds of copper expecting to get the best price, it’s probably not going to happen.
Don’t be surprised if copper prices are showing $1.90 on iscrapapp.com and the scrap yard offers you $1.60. If you’re only bringing in small quantities, it’s not a game-changer for them.
Now, if you have 500 pounds of copper, that could be several hundred in profit for the scrap yard, so they may be willing to negotiate if you press for better prices. Traveling to other scrap yards may be worth your trouble if you have large quantities, and they know it.
If you have a lot of scrap metal, then you may need to rent a truck to haul it all in. It’s best to first check with friends and family and see if you can borrow a vehicle (free is always better!). Hopefully, you’re able to save money by using your own or their vehicle.
It’s not all lost if you can’t find someone to loan you their truck. There are plenty of local businesses that have cheap truck rentals. Near me, I found that U-Haul and Home Depot both offered $20 truck rentals.
Here’s another reason to do your research before heading to your local scrapyard. If they end up paying you $20 or less for your scrap, it may not be worth paying for a rental truck to break even. Remember to include tax, gas, and any other ancillary costs associated with the truck rental.
Do Seasons Affect Scrap Metal Prices Near Me?
Scrap yards busiest seasons are spring and summer, during the height of the construction season. This is also when most home renovations take place.
In order for the scrapyard to make a trip worthwhile, they need large quantities of scrap metal.
Because of this, they may be willing to offer higher prices in the winter to build up their ‘inventory’ while times are slow.
Average Prices for Household Scrap Metal
While scrap metal prices do vary daily, it can be helpful to have a range that average household items sell for. Below is a list of these average household items:
- Washer/Dryer – $8-$12 ($0.04 – $0.08 per pound – average washer/dryer weight is 150-200 pounds)
- Cast-iron bathtub – $24-$30 (average weight of 300 pounds at $0.08-$0.10 per pound)
- Oven/Range – $8-$12 (average weight of 150 pounds at $0.05-$0.08 per pound)
- Refrigerator – $15-$30 depending on the material and weight
Step 3: Separate & Strip
It’s a good idea to separate your metals prior to your visit for a couple of reasons.
First, scrap yards separate their supplies by metal type. If they need to spend time sifting through what’s brought in, they may offer less money for the hassle.
They may also try to use that as a tactic to price your scrap metal into a ‘bulk price,’ instead of by metal type, resulting in a lower payout for you.
Lastly, if you’re bringing in wire that has a plastic or rubber insulation, strip it before heading to the scrap yard.
Step 4: How to Find a Scrap Yard Near Me?
So you’ve collected some scrap metal, determined what type of metal it is, separated and stripped it, and now you’re ready to find a scrap yard near you.
The best ways to find local scrap yards are:
I would suggest using Google Map’s reviews as a helpful way to determine which scrap yards might be trustworthy. Unfortunately, the scrap metal business has some negative connotations, similar to car dealers.
A unique idea for not-for-profits, townships, cities, schools, or really any organization is to host a recycling event that focuses on scrap metals.
My local township just had this sort of event. It was on a Saturday for 3 hours. I was interested so I took a drive by to see if it was a success.
There was a stretch of cars over a mile long. I’d say the event went well.
Once cars drove up with their electronics and scrap metal, volunteers were there to unload and then separate the items.
The piles of items were then driven by trucks to local scrapyards, where it could be sold and the township could make money.
As a side note, there was a $10 charge per vehicle. Not only were people willing to sit in line, but also to pay money to get rid of material that could have actually made them money.
A Scrap Yard Near Me – Know Before You Go
It’s important to understand some of the most common scrap metal laws before you visit a local junk yard. The sale of stolen goods is not uncommon at scrap yards, so proper records need to be kept to reduce this sort of behavior.
Scrap yards are required to take photos and videos of customers and the metals sold.
Scrap yards are required to pay by check in most cases over a certain dollar amount.
You may need to provide your driver’s license information.
Fingerprints, license plates, and signatures all could be required when you visit.
Have you sold your metal scraps to a scrap yard before? Did you find it was worth the trouble? It never hurts to make extra money and add it to your emergency savings account!