Water heaters are common household appliances used for commercial and residential purposes. Water heaters can last from 10 to 15 years. However, replacing them when they have reached their expected lifetime is important because as they age, they become less efficient and may become unsafe.

When it’s time to replace or upgrade your old water heater, you should properly dispose of the existing one to prevent any potential hazards from being created. Their disposal, however, can be a tricky process that requires careful consideration for safety and environmental protection.

Parts of a Water Heater

When making a plan to get rid of your old water heater, it may be helpful to know the parts that make up this appliance. Gas, oil, and electric water heaters have most components in common.


The tank holds the hot water. The tank is usually lined with steel on the inside and comes in contact with the water. The next layer is insulation, normally made of polyurethane foam. On the outside is an enamel metal jacket. Finally, another layer of insulation may have been wrapped around the outside of the tank to improve efficiency.

Anode Rod

Inside the tank is the anode rode. This rod is usually suspended in the water to help keep erosion at a minimum. It is made of aluminum or magnesium with a steel core.

Heating Elements or a Burner

Electric water heaters use heating elements, which are inside the tank of the water heater. Gas water heaters use a burner under the tank and also have a chimney at the top.


The thermostat is a thermometer and temperature control device. This is normally located near the bottom of the water heater.

Temperature-Pressure Relief Valve

This valve lets water escape if the pressure is too high in the tank. This component is a safety measure that, in extreme scenarios, keeps your tank from blowing up. It is normally on the side of the tank, close to the top.

Water Discharge Pipe

This pipe supplies the hot water to your home. The pipe is usually located at the top of the tank and suspended down into the water.

Shut-off valve

This component is located above the unit on the outside. It stops the water from flowing into the tank.

Drain Valve

At the bottom of the tank is the drain valve. It is used to empty the tank to remove sediment that may collect at the bottom of the tank. It can also be used to drain the tank when it is time to remove it from your home.

If you need to dispose of an old water heater, you can apply one of the ways outlined below. Before doing so, you will need to hire a professional to remove your old heater from your home and take out the hazardous components.

1. Recycle It

Depending on your area, you may have access to recycling centers that accept water heaters.

Some parts of a water heater that can be recycled include copper found on the internal and external elements, steel from the tank, and aluminum or brass. It is essential to determine what materials your recycling center accepts before taking in your water heater.

Check the recycler’s website to ensure that you meet their terms. For example, some require you to fill out paperwork, and some pick up the materials, while others expect you to deliver. In addition, some organizations recycle for free, though others charge a fee for their services.

2. Donate It

If your old water heater is still functioning and usable, you can donate it to a charitable organization or someone who needs it. You can reach out to local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or homeless shelters that might need used water heaters. You can also contact your local government to see if other charitable organizations need it.

It is recommended to have an expert check the water heater for safety before donation to ensure it is still safe to use. Suppose you are a resident of Indianapolis and surrounding areas. In that case, you can reach out to Cooper’s Water if you donate to ensure it’s inspected by a qualified professional and installed safely in the recipient’s home.

3. Scrap It

Scrapping refers to selling parts or components of a water heater for cash. The weight determines the value of scrap metal.

Your area scrap yard can be a great choice for disposing of your old water heater. The process is simple, and you may earn money by selling the components in your water heater to the scrap yard. Most yards accept all types of metal and estimate an approximate value for each.

Since most water heater parts are made of aluminum and steel, do not expect to make a large amount of money. The actual amount will vary, but it likely will not be more than $25 for the scrap metal. You can also reach out to nearby repair shops interested in purchasing water heater parts.

4. Hiring a Removal Service

The most convenient option for disposing of an old water heater is hiring a removal service. Most removal services will pick up your water heater and safely dispose of it according to local regulations.

Before hiring a removal service, you may want to research and compare prices, services, and terms to find one that fits your needs.

You can also ask for free quotes from multiple services to ensure you get the best deal. Ensure all hazardous materials are removed and disposed of according to local regulations before handing over your water heater.

5. Contact Your Waste Management Company

Your garbage hauling company may take old appliances as part of their services. You will have to contact the company to make arrangements for the pickup and find out what the fee is.

6. Use a Landfill

A landfill is an area where you can dump solid waste. In many areas, you can take your water heater to a landfill and dispose of it there. Before bringing your old water heater in, contact the site to determine their rules and regulations for disposing of old water heaters. It is essential to contact them beforehand, so you know what their fees are and to make sure that they accept appliances like water heaters.

However, this might be the least desirable option since landfills waste valuable resources that could be reused or recycled. It is best to explore other alternatives before resorting to this one.


No matter which option you choose for your old water heater, always remember to follow local guidelines and regulations. The key is to find the most suitable method that is safe and compliant with the rules for disposing of old appliances in your area.

Contact Us

Our experienced team has been in the water quality and plumbing services industry since 1980. You can depend on us for a wide range of plumbing products and services. At Cooper’s Water, we are proud to be the top choice for water softeners, filtration, reverse osmosis, and plumbing services in Indianapolis, IN and the surrounding areas.

If you have any inquiries or questions regarding the disposal of an old water heater, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experienced professionals are always ready to help you.

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