Scrapping a mobile home is not an easy process. Neither is the decision to scrap it in the first place. To compound the problem, there are very few resources available online to give you some handy, and much, needed advice. It isn’t really this booming industry and “expert mobile home scrappers” are few and far between. So where to turn to find out how much scrap metal is in a mobile home?
You will most likely be limited to digging through all kinds of forums, learning about previous people’s experiences, finding questions you didn’t even know you had. So, to make things easier, we’ve provided this handy guide to speed up the process a little. We still recommend you seek some past experiences from others, but this is as good a start as you’ll get.
When should I cut my losses and scrap my home?
As we briefly mentioned, scrapping a mobile home is usually not an easy (or very profitable) endeavor. So then, what would drive someone to this point? Or, when should you seriously consider scrapping your home?
There are two main reasons: Finances and because you are left no other choice.
When it comes to the financial side of things the biggest reason people turn to scrapping their home is because it’s just so expensive to move. Even a relatively short move by a local moving agency can cost in excess of $1,000. Going cross state or a greater distance can go over $10,000!!!
Let’s not forget that mobile homes are not terribly expensive to begin with. You can buy a decent single-wide for under $50,000 and a double-wide for under $80,000. Also, mobile homes depreciate yearly by around 3-3.5%. This means that after 20 years, 70% of your mobile home’s value is already gone just from depreciation.
Add to it that the move itself will drastically reduce the home’s value and you start to see why some rather just scrap it. Suddenly, paying a professional to scrap the home or scrapping it yourself and getting a few hundred dollars doesn’t sound so bad.
No other option
Since land appreciates in value, the plot itself could be worth more than the home. If you want to sell it, you might need to move or scrap the home first before a buyer will take it.
Older mobile homes (pre-1990’s and especially pre-1976) were sometimes more like RV’s or trailers and held to a much lower building standard than they are today. This means that by now, many of these homes are completely uninhabitable and not allowed in mobile home parks. This could leave your only option to be to get rid of the mobile home completely.
Where should I look for scrap metal in my home?
This answer could vary tremendously depending on what era your mobile home comes from, what type of mobile home it is, and the specific model. Some older trailer homes are completely built out of metallic materials such as corrugated steel and aluminum, while others only have metallic frames but wall panels made of asbestos. Take note, you must dispose of asbestos very carefully. Its fibers are toxic and can become embedded in your lungs and chest.
Newer homes can also be equally different. Vinyl, wood, and metal walls are equally common. The roof could be an equally good source of metal if the home has a metal roof. However, many homes today have a plastic or rubber roof because they are more energy friendly.
One constant, however, should be the underbelly of the home. From trailer homes to new manufactured homes, they all have a chassis made up of steel support beams, shafts, and tracks on which the homes rest. These will be of a significant weight, which means big bucks, but also be very hard to transport.
The home’s whole electrical system can also yield another significant profit. Electrical wires consist mainly out of copper. It is also the most sought-after and expensive scrap metal pound for pound. If you really want to get something out of scrapping your home you should not let one bit of it go to waste. Even if it seems as though the wiring is insignificant compared to all the other metal you will scrap.
If it is a particularly old home that still has its own built-in appliances, these could be another source of scrap metal. If the home is in really bad shape or has been abandoned for years, chances are they aren’t working anyway and wouldn’t be worth trying to save. Dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines are heavy and filled with metals and electrical components. However, they are often not worth what you think because they are priced as “mixed metals”.
Plumbing can be another good source of scrap metal. Most homes have copper or galvanized steel piping. Many owners opt to go with plastic when they need to replace their metal pipes so don’t bank on the whole plumbing system consisting out of metal. Although we doubt you will be scrapping newer models, they are also increasingly being made with plastic plumbing. Faucets, taps, and valves are another solid, albeit small, contribution.
Other areas that might be worth plundering but aren’t always present in all homes include skirting, metal door or window frames, gutters and drainage, sinks, light fixtures as well as vents and ducts.
What kinds of metal are in-demand?
Let’s start with the out-and-out winner of all the metals you are likely to encounter when scrapping your home:
The reason that it is the most valuable is that it’s arguably the most widely used and utilitarian metal. Most electrical systems and wiring rely completely on copper. It is also still widely used in homes for plumbing as rusts and corrodes less easily than other metals.
It’s also relatively easy to recycle and reuse, driving up the demand even further. Copper can go for up to $2.5 per pound. Not bad at all.
Brass is another very handle metal used in all kinds of bits and pieces, here and there. Locks, handles, plumbing fittings, valves, musical instruments, and electrical components all make use of this material. Just don’t expect to find tons of it in your mobile home. As you can see it’s mostly used for smaller parts.
Brass is usually less than copper, but still respectable at an average of over $1 per pound.
This is another metal commonly found in mobile homes. While not nearly as valuable as copper or brass, it will contribute significantly because of sheer weight. Older mobile homes (pre-1971) used aluminum wiring. If you were hoping for copper, too bad. Today, they are still widely used in frames for doors or windows or in storm doors themselves. If the home has metal siding, there is also a good chance that it’s made of aluminum.
Typically, aluminum only goes for around 50c per pound, which is a step down, but should make up for it in volume.
Lastly, there is steel. As we mentioned, most of the chassis and support beams will consist of steel. Although heavy, steel is also nowhere near the value of copper and brass. You will only get around 40c per pound. It’s also worth noting that because it’s so heavy and long, they will take considerably more effort to move. Unless you deliver the home in one piece or have a huge trailer to transport it one, you will need to cut them down to size and find a way to transport them.
This page on Scrap Sales USA will help you get a better idea.
Can you scrap a house by yourself?
This depends largely on the type of house we are talking about, but generally, it would be way too much work and too dangerous for a single person to take on. For most homes, you will need a team of people to hold things up or down, keep parts from falling on someone, carry the heavier items, and do it all in a reasonable timeframe.
You will also need a long list of tools. From the usuals such as a hammer (sledgehammer too), wire cutters, utility knives, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. to power tools such as grinders, a drill, electrical steel and wood saws, etc.
It’s also not like you can start banging away at the nearest side of the home and expect it to fall apart in a way that you can transport and scrap the materials. You will need to carefully plan how you take the home apart to speed up the process and do it safely.
Do I have to scrap the home myself?
As you can see, it isn’t easy. This is also why there aren’t too many services available that do this. It’s just a job no one really wants to do for the amount of money you get. That being said, it’s always worth a look. The quote you will get is highly dependent on the circumstances.
One option is to try and find a scrapyard that just takes the whole home, but in that case, you will most likely have to pay the moving costs, which is what we are trying to avoid. Another option is to have a company, like us at EZ Homes, do the demolition for you.
(Photos taken before, during and after a demolition.)
How to dump or get rid of all the other non-metal scrap?
You then also need some way to transport it to the dump and the scrap yard. Remember that, most scrapyards won’t accept other waste such as wood or plastic. You will need to find a different place to dump these materials. If you can’t find a big trailer or truck for hire it could mean you will need to take many trips back and forth.
Some dumping grounds will let you dump these materials for free, whereas others will demand a small fee. It’s up to you whether it’s worth it.
Many people either just let the wood materials rot away somewhere out of site and dump the rest of the plastic and rubber materials in dumpsters as the last resort.
Are there any other scrap materials of value in my home?
That depends. None of the other building materials are worth much. Especially in older homes that were largely made of asbestos, it’s pretty useless. However, one thing that could get you quite a handful of cash is the appliances.
Any large, electronic appliances can either be sold to the same scrapyard, but you will only get scrap metal prices for them. If they are still in good working order you should either take them with you or sell them separately as second-hand items.
Because they are made of different materials, you will only get mixed metal prices for them, which is very low. This is because there are some cost and labor involved for the scrap yard to separate the materials for recycling. Expect to only get about 10c per pound for these appliances. For that reason, you can see it’s much more worth it if it’s in working order to sell it as secondhand goods.
Now that you know how much scrap metal is in a mobile home…
You can decide if it’s worth your time and effort to sell off your scrap metal. We hope we also answered some of your other burning questions surrounding scrapping that pesky mobile home. While mobile homes can be a dream to live in, once they are past their sell-by date or have been rundown, it can be a real burden on your shoulders. Remember to take your special circumstances into account and read up on what others have done in the past. We wish you good luck.
About Dan Paton
Dan Paton has been working full-time in this field for over a decade. Both him and his partner, Dan Leighton, formed EZ Homes back in 2006 and have seen explosive growth ever since. Dan works heavily in the administrative role within the organization. He is a jack of all trades type of guy. Dan and his wife have 4 children.
View all posts by Dan Paton