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How To Dispose of an AC

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Air conditioners (ACs) are vital for maintaining comfort during the hot summer months. But what happens when your AC reaches the end of its life? Disposing of an AC unit is not as simple as tossing it in the trash. It contains hazardous materials that require special handling and disposal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to properly dispose of an AC unit.


To properly dispose of an AC unit, first disconnect it from the power source and hire a certified HVAC technician to drain the refrigerant. Remove any doors or covers from the unit. Then, explore disposal options such as your local disposal agency, retailer exchange programs, professional services, or recycling programs. Remember, it’s illegal and harmful to the environment to discard an AC unit with regular garbage, so always follow local regulations and guidelines.

Understanding the Importance of Proper AC Disposal

Before diving into the steps, it’s crucial to understand why proper AC disposal is vital. AC units contain refrigerants, which can act as potent greenhouse gases if released into the atmosphere. These gases contribute significantly to global climate change. Moreover, improper disposal can lead to soil and water contamination. Therefore, it’s essential to follow the right disposal practices to protect the environment and avoid legal penalties.

Preliminary Steps Before Disposal

Before disposing of your AC, there are several preliminary steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the power: Disconnect the AC unit from the power source by unplugging it or turning off the circuit breaker.
  2. Drain the refrigerant: Hire a certified HVAC technician to drain the refrigerant from the AC unit. This step is crucial, as refrigerants can be harmful to the environment and are regulated by law.
  3. Remove doors and covers: Take off any doors, covers, or hatches from the AC unit to prevent children and small animals from getting trapped inside.

AC Disposal Options

Now that you’ve prepared your AC for disposal, let’s explore different disposal options:

  1. Local disposal agency: Your local sanitation department may have a dedicated air conditioner disposal area or be in partnership with a third-party agency that handles the disposal.
  2. Retailer exchange programs: Some appliance sellers may provide recycling and disposal services for your old AC unit when you purchase a new one.
  3. Professional services: Companies like LoadUp and Trash Can Willys offer AC unit removal services for a fee.
  4. Recycling programs: Contact your power company to inquire about bounty programs, pickup services, or recycling programs for old appliances.

Remember that it’s illegal to discard an AC unit with regular garbage, and fines may be imposed if caught doing so. Always follow local regulations and guidelines for proper AC disposal.

Recycling Your AC Unit

Recycling is the recommended method for disposing of old AC units, as it prevents the release of harmful substances and helps conserve resources. You can find qualified scrap yards or facilities capable of performing proper AC disposal by visiting your local government website or browsing the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) partners of the EPA.

Consequences of Improper AC Disposal

The consequences of improper AC disposal can be severe, ranging from environmental damage to legal penalties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can impose fines of up to $37,500 per day for knowingly venting refrigerants.


Proper disposal of an AC unit is a responsibility we all share to protect our environment. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your old AC unit is disposed of safely and responsibly. Always remember to consult with professionals and follow local and federal guidelines when disposing of your AC unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I remove the refrigerant from my AC unit by myself?

No, you should not attempt to remove the refrigerant from your AC unit by yourself. The process requires specialized knowledge and tools, and it’s illegal to vent refrigerants into the atmosphere. Always hire a certified HVAC technician to perform this task.

What should I do if my local disposal agency does not accept AC units?

If your local disposal agency doesn’t accept AC units, you can explore other options such as retailer exchange programs, professional removal services, or recycling programs. You may also find a local scrap yard or facility that accepts AC units for recycling.

How can I find a certified HVAC technician to drain the refrigerant from my AC unit?

You can find a certified HVAC technician by asking for recommendations from friends or family, searching online, or contacting your local HVAC trade school. Always make sure the technician you hire is certified to handle refrigerants.

What are some signs that my AC unit needs to be replaced?

Some signs that your AC unit may need to be replaced include frequent breakdowns, high energy bills, inconsistent temperatures, and the unit being more than 10-15 years old. If you’re experiencing these issues, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional.

Are there any parts of my AC unit that I can sell or reuse?

Some parts of your AC unit, like the metal casing, may be valuable to scrap metal collectors. However, it’s important to ensure that any hazardous materials, like refrigerants, are removed by a professional before you attempt to sell or reuse any parts.

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