Radiators are essential in cars, trucks and other automobiles. Radiators were also once an essential part of a home heating system. What do they have in common? Both are great candidates for recycling. They are made almost entirely with metal, which is a very easy product to recycle if you can get it to the right place. We have everything you need to know about recycling both types of radiators.
What is a car radiator?
Radiators have existed almost as long as the automobile itself. As the engine moves pistons and other parts to provide the car with power, quite a bit of friction is created. That friction gives off heat. Too much heat will cause the engine to seize or even stop functioning.
The radiator pumps a mixture of water and antifreeze into the engine block to help it stay cool. When that coolant comes back out of the motor, it needs to be cooled off as well. As it travels through the radiator’s twists and bends, it slowly decreases in temperature. Once it is cool enough, it can be recirculated back into the engine. The radiator is typically positioned at the front of the car so the wind can help with the cooling process.
Radiators in older cars were likely made of brass or copper. In newer cars, radiators are typically constructed out of aluminum, which is lighter and less expensive.
Radiators also have headers or tanks at each end to hold the coolant. These can be made of brass, aluminum or plastic.
What are heating radiators?
Unlike a car radiator, which helps cool a car, a radiator in your home is used for heating. They are attached to a central boiler, which sends hot steam or water through the radiator. The heat radiates out into the room and provides warmth.
Radiators for homes date to the mid-1800s. They fell out of use in the mid-1900s when more efficient heating systems such as heat pumps were invented. Radiators are typically made of cast iron, although they can be made from other metals.
How to recycle radiators in a car
Unless you work on cars yourself, you have probably never seen a radiator and do not really want to. The best way for you to recycle your radiator is to let your mechanic remove it and recycle it, or recycle your entire car.
Scrap metal dealers or car scrap yards are the most likely candidates to take your old car off your hands. Any large or medium-sized community should have at least one of these businesses.
If you want to make certain your car gets recycled in an eco-friendly manner, look for a car recycling service like Green Vehicle Disposal
. They have a network of auto recycling companies in the United States and Canada. All their partners pick up used cars and break them down for disposal. They can even pay you for your used car in most cases. Visit their website for more details about their program.
How to recycle a car radiator
If you removed your radiator yourself and are looking for a place to take it, there are a couple steps you should follow. Before you recycle your radiator, you should make sure you have removed all the coolant. Antifreeze can be harmful to humans and animals, and is therefore bad for the environment. There are many different ways to recycle antifreeze. For more details, read our article, How to Recycle Antifreeze
Once you have an empty radiator, call around or search the Internet to see if your local metal scrap yard will take it. In most cases, they should buy it from you, especially if metal prices are high, but there are no guarantees. If you have multiple metal recycling companies in your community, you might call around to see who can give you the best price.
Some businesses make it very clear that they are in the radiator recycling business. For example, the website for Rockaway Recycling
in New Jersey has a long list of car parts they will accept for recycling, including radiators. They list their prices on their website and are open six days a week, so it is a very convenient place to take your radiator and any other car parts that may have value.
If your radiator has any plastic on it, Rockaway recommends removing it before bringing it to the scrap yard. That way you can sell the radiator as clean sheet aluminum, which will fetch more money than other grades of aluminum. Earthworks Recycling
in Spokane is another example of a scrap yard that expressly states it accepts radiators for recycling. Its prices are also listed on its website.
Your curbside recycling program is unlikely to accept radiators for recycling (especially since most do not take scrap metal at all). Even though your local recycling center may have a metal recycling bin, it probably will not accept radiators. You can call ahead to make sure.
Other resources for recycling a radiator include an auto repair garage or a car parts store. If they do not accept radiators for recycling themselves, they may be able to advise you on where to take it.
How to recycle a heating radiator
Radiators in your home should also be recycled at a scrap metal yard. If your radiators are in good shape, you can look into reusing them by selling them to someone with an older home. However, the market for old radiators is poor. Most people replace their radiators with new systems if a radiator breaks down rather than trying to keep an old system limping along.