Disposing of a Window Unit Air Conditioner in Texas – argh!

Posted on July 23rd, 2010 in Brenham,Commentary,Engineerboy by EngineerBoy

Don't lose your cool...

We recently replaced two of our old, crappy window unit air-conditioners with newer models.  The new units were from Home Depot and the installation was do-it-yourself, and when I was done I realized that I had two undisposable hunks of junk to deal with.  You can’t just throw away a system loaded with refrigerant, so I figured all I had to do was figure out how everybody else did it, then do that.

My first strategy was to ask at the local recycling center here in Brenham.  They said I could probably take them to the collection station (dump), so the next time I went to the dump I asked at the office if they would take window unit air-conditioners.  They said they would, as long as all the coolant had been recovered by an authorized contractor, and the units were officially tagged as being empty.

That sounded good, so I started calling the local AC contractors around town, and found that 90% of them responded with “we don’t work on window units”, 5% took a message and called me back looking to schedule a coolant recharge, and 5% had no idea what I was talking about (and/or feigned ignorance because they didn’t want to do it).

At this point I’ll clarify that I clearly expressed that I was willing to pay a fee for this service, I wasn’t looking for it to be done for free, or anything, and still no takers.  I finally started doing some serious web searching and found this site:

http://www.texaspowerfulsmart.org/rebate/recycling_partners.php

Which bills itself as “Official Texas Trade Up Appliance Rebate Program”, and that link goes to their list of recycling partners.  That list looked very promising, especially when I saw that all Best Buy locations were drop-off locations that take room air-conditioners, as shown here:

Problem solved?! Nope...

With a song in my heart and a ‘green’ aura, I figured my problems were solved, so I loaded up the air conditioners (one of which was a 25,000 BTU model weighing 200+ pounds) and prepared to get rid of my albatrosses…albatrossi?…albatri?  Before heading out I figured I’d make a quick call to my local Best Best buy to confirm, and that’s when I got the bad news – they didn’t take air conditioners.  They didn’t really care too much about the fact that they were listed on the Texas site as being an authorized recycling center that took window units, it was no dice.

I figured I’d double-check on the Best Buy website, where I found this:

Confirmation of misinformation, frustration

I figured, oh well, just some miscommunication and/or old information, no worries, and I’ll just work my way down the list of nearby listed recycling centers.  Unfortunately, each one I contacted had variations of the same story, they either didn’t deal in window units, or they only recycled old units when they were selling you a new unit.

My strike-outs continued and my frustration mounted, until I got to ‘Barker’s Heating & Cooling Inc’ in College Station.  They knew what I was talking about, told me the fee ($75), said I could drop them off, and that they were open until 5pm.  I headed out as fast as I could, overjoyed at finally being able to finally get rid of these units in an ethical way.  Dealing with Barker’s could not have been any easier, they knew what they were doing, offloaded the units quickly, I paid the invoice, and I was on my way within 15 minutes.  Whew.  Here’s their website:

http://www.barkerservices.com/company.shtml

We’re planning on eventually installing central AC, and when we’re ready Barker’s will be getting the first shot at it due to their efficiency and friendliness in dealing with the recycling/disposal of these two window units.

I’m posting this in case it might prove helpful to somebody else in the same dilemma.  Those of you Texans in bigger  cities and/or in towns that already have a straightforward way to recycle air conditioners, be thankful.  For the rest of you, I hope this saga includes information that may prove helpful to you if you happen to be finding it frustrating to figure out how to get rid of your old window units ethically and legally.

2 Responses to 'Disposing of a Window Unit Air Conditioner in Texas – argh!'

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  1. KK said,

    on September 20th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    If anybody’s in the AUSTIN area, and needs to recycle their old window a/c units, I’m happy to report that I just found a place that does it. I, too, was searching the internet in vain and calling scrap metal places, to no avail. Then, I had a thought…call 311. They put me onto a recycling place called FM 812. It’s located in Austin, on, you guessed it, FM 812, out by the airport. Phone number, 512-243-3325. I just called and they said they could take out the refrigerant and recycle the old unit. So, while I’m not going to make any money from these old beasts by turning them in for scrap metal, I do feel good that the freon is (hopefully) not going to be released into the atmosphere. 311 is great!

  2. Peter D. said,

    on October 28th, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Thanks EngineerBoy and KK. I found the same place here in Austin, TX on the City of Austin website.
    http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/residential_fm812_center.htm#notaccepted
    I as well have been very frustrated with the lack of green industry in a City that boasts itself to be on the forefront of the environmental movement.

    Anybody familiar with how to make an environmental resource website to assist others with their quest to stay earth friendly?

    Stay green,
    Pete

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