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Household Appliances and Demolition

Volunteers carrya refrigerator out to the curb for disposal.
Volunteers carry a refrigerator out to the curb for disposal.

Household appliances, such as kitchen and laundry appliances, water heaters and furnaces, should be removed from residential buildings before demolition.

Certain materials and substances must be removed from appliances prior to recycling or disposal:

Refrigerants

Fact Sheet: Construction and Demolition: How to Properly Dispose of Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Equipment

  • Specific regulatory requirements apply if a refrigerator, freezer, air conditioning system, or other refrigerant-containing appliance is going to be repaired for reuse.
  • If the appliances are not fit for reuse, they should be recycled rather than buried in a landfill.
  • Regulated refrigerants (e.g., CFCs) must be removed properly from refrigerant-containing devices before they are recycled or disposed of.

Refrigerant recyclers must certify to EPA that certain standards are being met. You can verify that the recyclers are meeting these requirements by asking them to provide a copy of the certification they have sent to EPA.

Mercury Switches or PCB-Containing Capacitors

If appliances contain mercury switches or PCB-containing capacitors, those should be removed before the metal is recycled.

In EPA Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI), you can use the Disaster Debris Recovery database to locate recyclers and other waste management facilities.