Separating Scrap And Components From Computers

Posted on: 11 April 2017


Old computers are treasure troves for scrappers and computer enthusiasts alike. Between resale value for used parts and recycling rates with scrap metal buyers like United Scrap Iron & Metal Co, there are many different ways to get extra money from used or even broken systems. Here are a few computer component and scrap material points to help you maximize recycling profits or find components still worth selling.

What's Wrong With The System?

Before committing to scrapping, you need to know more about the recycling market and the computer sales market. Is it more profitable to sell specific components or even the entire computer, or would it be better to send the system off to the scrap heap for a recycling payout? The answer depends on what's wrong with the system.

The best situation would be a computer that was thrown out just because it's old. "Old" can have many definitions, such as not being the current year's newest system, but still far more than the average computer user needs. It could be just too slow to run current software at a comfortable pace for the user, or it could be a relic from another time.

What you need to figure out is if it will work, if it can be fixed quickly, and if you can sell other components. For scrappers, you're not trying to restore an old, working operating system (OS); don't spend time removing viruses or patching information when you or a technician could just wipe the hard drive of its data and show that the components work.

Removing Components And Scrapping Contents

Here are a few components that can be pulled out for reuse and scrap, based on their ease of reuse:

  • Memory modules. These rectangular modules or sticks can be popped out of the computer's motherboard by pulling back on plastic tabs and removing without much effort. They also store well, and can be scrapped for the small amount.
  • Power supply. The power supply may seem complex because of the wires, but the wires are connected to plastic connectors that come loose with a simple pinch of a notch and a pull. They're secured to the computer case with screws. Recycle power supplies for the aluminum casing and the copper contents, but make sure a professional electrician discharges the electricity from the component.
  • Fans. Multiple fans are inside the computer that can be used for many different machines and projects. They're mostly held in place by screws in every location except the processor, which usually has screws or clamps attached to an aluminum or copper heat sink that can be scrapped.
  • Computer case. Most computer cases are made of aluminum, and can be resold as a separate unit when the contents are removed. You usually need to unscrew the motherboard, power supply, and any storage or disc drives added to the front-area storage bays.
  • Motherboard. The motherboard connects all other components to transfer information, and acts as a switchboard of sorts. It is secured to the case with screws and attached to different components with plastic connectors that either need a pinch and pull to remove or a screwdriver for safety bracket removal.
  • Processor. Processor removal is difficult because it is easily damaged. The most sensitive area is the gold pin side of the processor, as these pins can be bent with a slight finger nudge or accidentally dropping it even less than an inch as you remove it. You must remove the heatsink and/or fan.

Contact a scrap metal professional to figure out current prices for your scrapped computers.