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