How to Break Down a Refrigerator for Scrap Metal

How to Break Down a Refrigerator for Scrap Metal. Every type of metal has worth, and old or broken home appliances can be traded in for cash. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, scrap metal is any piece of metal that can be recycled. Reclaimed metals and metals that contain liquid aren't considered scrap metal. To promote green living or to simply earn a few extra bucks, use an appliance as scrap metal instead of it wasting away. Instead of simply throwing out an old refrigerator, consider breaking into down into parts and selling it to a scrap metal dealer or even selling the scrap metal yourself.

Replace your refrigerator and use the old one for scrap metal.

Things Needed

  • Wire cutter
  • Screw driver
  • Pliers
  • Wrenches
  • Magnet
  • Chain saw
  • Truck
  • Protective goggles
  • Safety gloves

Step 1

Call local scrap yards to find one that will take refrigerators that still contain freon. Freon, which can damage the Earth's ozone layer if released, should be removed by only a professional, such as an HVAC certification holder, the EPA advises. Freon is located in the condenser coils, which are typically on the bottom of the backside of the refrigerator.

Step 2

Remove the shelves from the refrigerator if they're aluminum. If the rails that support the shelves are aluminum, remove those as well.

Step 3

Cut off any wire on on the back of the refrigerator with a wire cutter. Even the smallest bits of metal can be sold for scrap metal. Don't overlook certain pieces of metal because they're presumed to be worthless.

Step 4

Use a magnet to determine which metal is magnetic and which isn't. Remove any non-magnetic parts of metal from the refrigerator to use for scrap metal. Use a screwdriver, pliers and wrenches to undo any nuts and bolts and disassemble the refrigerator.

Step 5

Cut the refrigerator into manageable pieces by using a chain saw. This will make it easier to transport the scrap metal if the vehicle being used isn't large. Wear goggles and safety gloves for personal protection.

Step 6

Borrow or rent a van or trunk to move the scrap metal. Just because the refrigerator has been broken down, it doesn't necessarily make the load smaller -- it's still a large collection of metal to move. Trying to fit the metal into a regular-sized car may damage the interior.


  • Skip the trouble of breaking down the refrigerator and have a local recycling company pick it up, take it away and break it down. Some of these recycling programs will even pay for the refrigerator. Call a local recycling company to ask if they provide this service. Ask specific questions. Some companies might not take items over a certain length or weight.
  • How much a refrigerator is broken down depends on where the refrigerator is going to be taken, who will remove the freon from the coils and how large of a vehicle will be used for transportation. Some junkyards will take an entire refrigerator and remove the freon, which means that you’ll simply need to get it to its destination.
  • As long as the scrap metal follows EPA guidelines, it’s not necessary to divide the scrap into separate kinds of metal.
  • According to the EPA, the person who cuts the freon-containing coils is ultimately responsible for proper disposal of the freon. SEE REF 6 Since freon can be damaging to the environment, it’s best to let a professional, such as an HVAC certification holder, take care of the freon lines in the refrigerator.


  • Be careful of sharp pieces of metal that can cut or damage skin.


  • Scrap Metal Junkie: How to Scrap a Refrigerator
  • Montgomery County (Maryland): How to Recycle and Dispose of Appliances
  • Survival Insight; Recycle Scrap Metals and Make Money; Jon Boyd Barrett
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Safe Hazardous Waste Recycling
  • Appliance Outlet: Condenser Coils - Where are they Located?
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Complying with the Section 608 Refrigerant Recycling Rule