How To Scrap Dirty Copper Radiators

One of the more common items when scrapping, aluminum copper fin or radiators are popular for taking apart before bringing it to your scrap yard. There are different kinds of radiators from a variety of sources and it’s important to know how to separate them and clean them to get the best price at the scale. Below we have a guide when recycling your copper radiators.

What Are Radiators?

Radiators are units that are used for cooling for a variety of appliances and machines. In the scrap metal industry, they can be referred to ACRs, aluminum/copper radiators, copper fin, brass rads, and some other phrases. Radiators allow engines or machines to cool or push cool air by passing the a cooling agent through the unit.



Different Kinds of Scrap Radiators

There are a few different kinds of radiators that will come through scrap yards. There are a few different kinds of metals you will find in radiators and slightly different ways they look.

Aluminum Copper Fin (ACR’s)

  • Where It Is Found: Usually found inside air conditioners and refrigerators.
  • What It Looks Like: Aluminum on the outside (silver colored metal) and copper tubing running throughout.

When taking apart cars there are some great parts than you can salvage or scrap before scrapping the whole car. Usually found towards the front of the car’s engine, the radiators can be bulk and look like they aren’t worth much but that’s not the case. If you are removing a radiator from a car you can bring it to the scrap yard as is and get some good money for it, as they usually can get anywhere from $5-30 each depending on the car and type.

Aluminum Radiators

  • Where It Is Found: Most common radiator from a car, trucks, forklifts, or other vehicles.
  • What It Looks Like: Usually has black plastic ends and will be aluminum throughout, use a file to make sure it’s silver in color.

Brass Radiators

  • Where It Is Found: Less common radiator pulled from a car or vehicle.
  • What It Looks Like: Will be dark yellow in color and much heavier than an aluminum radiator. Use your file to make sure it’s yellow in color and will commonly have steel ends.



How To Take Apart Radiators For Scrap Metal:

If you have the right tools to cut off the steel or plastic ends of the radiators you will be able to get more money for them. They will be considered “clean” and generally get a better price per pound around $0.10 more. If you don’t remove the ends from the radiators, they will be considered “dirty” at the scrap yard and must be separated and will be valued less.

Tools Needed:

  • Sawzall
  • Power Cord (if sawzall is electric)
  • Safety Glasses
  • Gloves

1. Sort Your Radiators Based on Materials

Determine what kind of radiators you have and make sure to check them with your file to ensure the aluminum and brass ones are separated.

2. Cut Your Radiators & Remove Steel

When you have your sawzall ready and the proper safety equipment, cut down the edge of the radiator to remove the end of the radiator. Try to take off as little of the aluminum or brass as possible and get close to the steel or plastic end.

3. Separate the Ends & Clean Fin

After you have removed the ends from the radiators, we suggest piling them up separately and selling to your yard. Generally, scrap yards will pay a special price for ends off radiators.

4. Scrap Your Clean Rads

Now that you have removed the ends, you can scrap the radiators as clean material. Be sure to keep any brass radiators separate from aluminum or aluminum/copper ones. You can also scrap the ends of the radiators as well, usually, yards will pay for them at a slightly better than steel price.

Be sure to use all of the safety equipment needed when using any equipment and machinery.


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