Recycling Electric Motors Safely: Your Complete Guide with iScrap App

Electric motors are still as commonplace as cell phones in an evolving technological landscape. These units power many devices, from vacuums and computers to air conditioners. The need for responsible recycling practices becomes crucial as these motors become more prevalent.

What Are Electric Motors & What Are Electric Motors Made Of?

Electric Motors are devices that convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, enabling the movement of various appliances and machinery. Simply put, they have four basic parts:

  • Stator: The stationary part of the motor that generates a magnetic field when an electric current passes through it. These are nearly always some form of Iron or Steel with Copper Wire wound around it.
  • Rotor: The rotating part, typically positioned inside the stator. Rotors experience the magnetic field and, in turn, move. These are usually some form of Aluminum or Copper due to their light weight and good conductivity.
  • Windings: Coils of wire within the motor that carry the electric current, generating the magnetic field necessary for motion. These are predominantly copper. However, many modern motors are starting to use aluminum as well. Hit them with a magnet, to be sure!
  • Shaft: Connects to the rotor, transmitting the mechanical energy produced by the motor. Typically, some form of Steel.
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The Environmental Benefits of Recycling Electric Motors

As these motors often contain the valuable materials listed above, it is no surprise that scrapping these come with environmental benefits. When electric motors are recycled, it reduces the need for new raw materials. The more we can divert motors from landfills, the more we conserve the resources and energy required for new production.

Maximizing Profits By Scrapping and Sorting Electric Motors.

Due to the valuable metals inside most motors, they often hold significant value for scrappers. The demand for metals, especially copper, remains high in various industries, making recycling electric motors a lucrative business. Often, scrappers may look the other way when seeing a motor due to the time needed to clean and sort them, but if you follow the steps below, you can maximize your profits when bringing them to your yard.

The Risks of Scrapping Electric Motors

While relatively simple to sort and scrap, a scrap motor has problems. Here are some common issues:

Environmental Pollution

Motors may contain oils, lubricants, or other insulation materials. While they aren’t too dangerous if they spill onto your garage floor, improper disporal substances can affect your surrounding area. Whether it’s your plumbing/septic or your yard, these liquids can seep into the soil, causing water contamination.

Personal Safety Risks

Like anything that holds a current, neglecting safety precautions when handling electric items can result in injuries. Ensuring all equipment is thoroughly uncharged is the first step in scrapping electric materials. On top of that, sharp edges, heavy components, and the casing’s lack of apparent openings make it easy to slip up and hurt yourself. The easiest way to mitigate these risks is to have the appropriate tools and protective gear.

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How To Take Apart An Electric Motor For Scrap

The first decision you must make when scrapping an electric motor is, “Should I take it apart or scrap it as is?” A fair question, but one with a vague answer; it depends. The decision to take apart electric motors for scrap hinges on your available time and whether the additional profit compensates for the invested time. If the monetary gains are only around a dollar, and you only have one or two motors, that extra 45 minutes to an hour may not be worth it. However, if you have a streamlined teardown process and have a sizeable amount of motors, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Disassembly: Pull apart the item to access the inner components. In some cases, the motor may be secured inside with screws; remove these from the base to extract the motor.
  2. Remove Insulated Copper Wire: Grab a pair of wire cutters and snip any wires. Add those to your wire pile.
  3. Cut the Outer Casing Apart: If it isn’t removable with screws, you may need to saw off the outer shell carefully.
  4. Pry Copper Windings Out: It’s fairly common practice to see scrappers taking a screwdriver out to pry the windings out of the stator.

Finding the Right Scrap Yard with the iScrap App

Choosing an ideal scrap yard to bring your motors to involves several key considerations:

  • Pricing: One of the most essential parts of scrapping. You want to find a yard that will pay you top dollar for your materials. The iScrap App was designed with this in mind. You can use the app to look up whatever metal you are selling and sort through yards by the highest (and most recent) price reported. See the photo here as an example.
  • Location: This can also be a deal breaker if the yard is too far off your local route, or if you are on the job and a bit farther away, you can use the iScrap App to find a yard nearby. Doing so can save you money on fuel, but it also is environmentally conscious of the fact that you have to drive your vehicle around to these locations. Enter your location and let the app find the yards closest to you.
  • Loyalty/Atmosphere: When going to a yard for the first time, you want to feel like you can trust what the yard is telling you. You also want to feel like every metric the yard uses is transparent and fair. If they can provide these things for you, you will likely become a repeat customer. If you become a repeat customer, yards often have discounted pricing tiers for these select scrappers.

Leveraging the iScrap App for Current Prices and Tips

We recommend using the iScrap App to keep your ear to the ground regarding price fluctuations. Once you get used to the market’s movements and see the big picture, you can more accurately make assumptions about which metals to hold or sell. We break down the scrap metal market movements weekly in a live-streamed YouTube video. If you’re interested in staying informed, check it out HERE.

As you continue your scrapping journey, remember that each decision you make with materials can contribute to a more or less sustainable future, depending on which road you take. By leveraging tools like the iScrap App, you recycle responsibly and actively participate in a global movement towards a cleaner and healthier planet.