Disposing of your old water heater can be tricky since each state may have different regulations. Some water heaters contain many different chemicals, such as mercury, and in order to dispose of them properly you may need to take them further than just to your local landfill.
Step 1 - Turn Off the Heater
Turn the water heater power off. Make sure that it is off before taking any of the parts off or draining the water. It is always best to double check that the water heater is off before taking action to prevent any significant safety hazards. To do this, flip the circuit breaker or turn off the main power to the house.
Step 2 - Drain
The water heater will be significantly easier and safer to move if you drain the water out of it first. Disconnect the heater from the electrical outlet and let the heater cool. Label the wires for easy installation and setup of the new water heater. Connect a hose to the drainage valve and run the hose outside or into a drain. Make sure you are able to run the other end of the hose somewhere excess water will not ruin anything. When the heater is completely empty, detach it from the cold and hot water pipes.
Step 3 - Call Local Landfill
Call your local landfill to see if you are able to dump the old water heater there. Ask if it is legal to allow the trash collector to simply pick up your old water heater if you leave it alongside your curb. Many states have regulations regarding leaving large appliances outside, especially ones that have certain chemicals in them, so it is best to check with your garbage collector and/or landfill before placing it on your curb for pick up.
Step 4 - Contact Utilities Company
Some utility companies may actually take care of the handling of old water heaters by picking them up and disposing of them properly to no charge to you. Call your local company to see if this applies to you.
Step 5 - Check with Recycle Centers
Get in touch with a recycle center. Start by calling your local center to find out if they will dispose of your old water heater. If your local center does not participate, ask for the next closest center that will help you in disposing of your heater. Since water heaters are normally made out of steel, and steel is in demand for recycling, many centers will pay you a certain amount when collecting your old appliance. Ask the center when you contact them if they offer payment. You can also contact local metal collectors. They may even pick up at your location.
Step 6 - Ask a Professional
If you wait to get rid of your old water heater until you get a new one, you may be able to have a professional discard it for you. Many times the professional water heater installer may be able to take your old water heater out of your home and dispose of it properly, although there may be a fee associated with this service.