Disposing of old appliances can be tricky, especially when you’re living off the grid. If you don’t have municipal recycling facilities, getting rid of old appliances is pretty challenging. In an age when re-purposing and recycling is king, check out these four things to do with used appliances if you can’t dispose of them easily.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Repair and Use Old Appliances
Before deciding whether to repair your appliance or buy a new one, there are some things you should consider.
Is your appliance is more than eight years old? If so, you should consider replacing it with something more energy-efficient and cost-effective. Also, if an appliance repair will cost more than 50% of the original cost, budget for a new one. However, the situation can be different for everyone, so make sure you stay within your budget.
If you do need to buy a new appliance, make sure you check for any government rebates in your area. Depending on the type of appliance, and the age of your existing one, you may qualify for energy-efficient rebates from the government, which can save you quite a bit of money.
Give Them Away
If you can’t easily dispose of appliances in your area, post them online for free. Scrap metal haulers will be more than happy to remove your used appliances. Plus, they will probably give you some cash for the metal.
As an added bonus, you can be certain the item will get properly recycled. If they aren’t used for scrap metal, you can be sure there are some creative people who would love to up-cycle your old appliance.
Re-purposing Old Fridges
Re-purposing is the best thing to do with used appliances. There are endless possibilities of creative ways to use your old and broken appliances. Some of my favorite ideas for old refrigerators include:
- Turn it into a pellet smoker
- Remove the door, lay it down and make a mini pond
- Turn it into a bookshelf or office cabinet
- Build a fridge cellar
- Fridge patio icebox
- Fridge drawers turned into planters for herbs
- Add some UV lights and use your old fridge as a place to raise seedlings before your planting season begins.
Some innovative companies have even started turning fridges into unique couches. Old tube TVs are great for turning into a mini bar by removing the internal components.
If you decide to re-purpose your appliance, make sure you remove any dangerous chemicals beforehand. For example, most old fridges, freezers, and A/C units use Freon as the refrigerant chemical. Freon is extremely dangerous and a contributor to ozone depletion, so make sure you have it removed before getting creative with your appliance!
Up-Cycling Other Household Appliances
There are lots of great ideas for re-using refrigerators, but what about the rest of your old household appliances? No matter what unwanted old appliance you have, there is a way to reuse it, you just have to think outside the box. Use some of the ideas below to help jumpstart your creativity.
Blenders - Remove the screw cap and blades, add a lightbulb and enjoy your new lamp.
Washing Machines - Remove the washer drum and turn it into a small fire pit for your patio. Alternatively, add a cushion to the top of the drum to add some unique and cheap seating to your home.
Tube Tv - If you still have a Tube TV lying around, try making it into a small aquarium or bar cart. Or, remove the screen and components and use the space for whatever you see fit. My grandparents actually liked the frame of their old TV so much, they removed the internals and placed a new flat-screen TV inside it!
Microwaves - Remove the electrical components and turn your old microwave into a miniature aquarium or terrarium. You can also just turn it into a simple bookcase or shelf space.
Fans - Even if the motor is dead, your old fan cover will make a great display for air plants, which will fit nicely between the wires of the grate. With a few clips, you can also repurpose the fan cover into a picture-holding display.
Swing-Arm Lamp - Like many old appliances, those old metal swing-arm lamps work great as a repurposed planter or vase. Remove the light bulb and wiring, and fill the cone of the lamp with soil.
Old Sinks - Not exactly an appliance, but old sinks make beautiful birdbaths or planters in your garden.
Piano - Again, not an appliance, but it seems like lots of people are getting rid of pianos lately. If your piano's best days are behind it, save the frame and retrofit it into a kitchen island or table. The woodwork and craftsmanship on pianos is usually amazing, and it would be a shame to let that go to waste.
Use a Junk Removal Company
Despite your best efforts at re-purposing or donating, sometimes you just need to call a professional company to help you out with removal. These companies will come to your house at a time of your choosing and provide a free estimate on how much it will cost to remove and dispose of. Prices vary depending on your location, but for appliances, it is relatively cheap.
If you use a junk company, they do all the heavy lifting, transportation, and disposal. So if you can't donate or upcycle your heavy appliances in the basement, I suggest calling some junkers to haul them out.
The most recognized and largest such company is 1-800-GOT-JUNK, spanning the United States, Canada, and Australia. Next time you can’t reuse old appliances, give them a call.
Old unused appliances tend to sit in basements and garages for years until someone finds a way to get rid of them. These hidden gems can be upcycled into all sorts of crafty things. If you don’t have the time or inclination to repurpose them, post them online for scrap metal haulers or DIYers to come to pick up. There’s no excuse to keep your old appliances sitting around.
Interested in learning more about how to recycle and live frugally off the grid? Read more below.