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It’s an old expression to “waste not, want not,” and the adage carries a very simple meaning: if you are careful with what you own, you will get the maximum use out of it. Those who treat their belongings with care and maintain regular upkeep don’t have to pay for their repair or a replacement that often. For homeowners, the little extra money in one’s pocket just by carrying out a little regular maintenance, and taking care of any problems the first time that they are noticed, can build into quite a decent sum.

Inevitably, though, some things do break down completely. When that happens, what do you do? Do you throw it away when a new unit arrives? Or alternatively, can you still use it in a way that means you continue saving money? Old appliances may seem like they’re past their best days, but perhaps there is still some potential in one or two of them yet. Let’s have a look at a few ways that you can recycle broken appliances and get a little bit more out of them.

The obvious route: recycling.

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First, in order to recycle broken appliances, you must first know how to recycle properly. One issue that is faced, particularly in the United States, is that the rules on recycling are not well followed, and potentially not well communicated. This will have big implications in the future if it’s not corrected, but by recycling your own household waste properly, you are contributing to a solution and every little bit will help.

Before leaving any rubbish out for the recycling services to collect, you have to be sure that there is no debris included that shouldn’t be there. For example, leftover grease on food containers that have been included in household recycling, then contaminates the rest of the collection, rendering the recycling process useless. One has to be savvy when sorting through cabinets to determine what foodstuffs go into the recycling bin, as opposed to what goes into the regular trash. It may seem like an unusual process to switch around trash between bins, but it will make a difference in the long run.

That said, many of your appliances just can not be included in your usual recycling bin collection. They are either going to be too big or too complex to be part of either of the household rubbish collections. Instead, look up your local waste management teams and arrange a pickup. Alternatively, speak to a local charity who may also collect it from you. They may have technicians who can get your air conditioner or refrigerator back up and running, or just find an alternative use for it themselves. If either of those options fails, one person’s scrap is other person’s gain. Hand the appliance over to a scrap metal worker, they are always on the lookout for broken tech. Before deciding what to do, however, it might be worth determining if you should try and have your appliance repaired before replacing it.

Shall I repair, or replace?

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Some appliances are simply too expensive to replace often, which is why you have to make the best choice on what to do early. Most won’t retain their value, or just can’t be passed on to a different user, no matter how good a condition it is in, aesthetically. Obviously, a little bit of rust on a radiator isn’t a just cause to replace all of them with stainless steel, but there is nothing that a damp sponge can do to improve a leaking one. Some of your electrical goods are just too big to remove and replace and required an installer to ensure they were correctly fitted in the first place. When considering what to do with something as huge as an air conditioning unit, you have to factor in the cost of installation, as well as the new HVAC system itself. It is much easier, and cheaper to simply stay on top of cleaning the unit, and checking and correcting problems when they first appear. If it requires more work, then remember that AC repair is still far cheaper than replacement.

However, if your cooling system is beyond repair, and you have no option but to get a new HVAC system, then do so quickly. The longer that you hold off on having these types of systems taken care of only increases the likelihood of further problems. A slow leak can lead to water damage, which to drywall or carpet will also require much further spending to put right. Stay on top of maintaining these bigger appliances, repair them as soon as you have to, and if you need to replace it completely, do so promptly.

New life in old things.

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Of course, if you know someone who can work miracles with hardware, you can look to recycle your goods’ purpose instead. There is a niche market out there for repurposing electrical goods, by cleaning them up and out and making them the focal point of a more alternative kitchen. Some old refrigerators can be and have been, recycled into novel cabinets. It’s not unusual to see old CDs and vinyl on countertops, acting as joint coasters and fun little trinkets.

There’s no better reason why you should do a full kitchen backsplash than to protect your surfaces, but to do so with recycled materials would be an incredibly interesting and effective alternative. Left-over roof tiles can be used in a mosaic tile-esque way, providing a new pattern to compliment your unique countertops and kitchen design. Alternatively, if you prefer a more subtle kitchen backsplash style, more akin to that brought about by the porcelain tile, then use slate roof tiles instead, as they will look and function like a granite backsplash.

Jennifer Miles