Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Scrapping an old house.

ganger631 - 22-4-2016 at 22:48


Anyone have experience scrapping an old house?My friend's house is getting torn apart for reconstruction, just curious if anything is worth taking. I was wondering what kind of rare metal you could obtain in a old house built back in the 1950-1955, apart from copper and steel, what else could you possibly get?
Thanks In advance!

[Edited on 23-4-2016 by ganger631]

Tdep - 22-4-2016 at 22:54

If it's built in that time period there's a high likelyhood of there being some lead sheeting on the roof. Should be easy to identify and pull out of the rubble, very heavy grey metal that you can easily bend.

NedsHead - 23-4-2016 at 00:45

yeah check for lead flashing on the roof, that and some copper piping is all I can think of worth grabbing, be careful of any asbestos

j_sum1 - 23-4-2016 at 01:22

copper wiring might be worth it too.

I think you are more likely to find useful items than useful materials.

Tdep - 23-4-2016 at 01:39

Oh also, if the house is that old it may have a mercury thermostat, which relies on a large mercury tilt switch. Worth saving that, although it would be removed before the house is knocked down due to environmental laws.

Morgan - 23-4-2016 at 05:46

My sister gave me a bucket full of old brass sash pulleys from some old house she bought built in the late 1800's with huge windows. I hammered the pins out of some and buffed up a few of the ~7 centimeter wheels which look vaguely like these but with smaller holes. They are kind of pretty polished but I don't know what I'd do with them. Maybe if I was into art or something steampunk ...

Nectarine - 23-4-2016 at 09:53

You can take the americium from all the smoke detectors...


Sulaiman - 23-4-2016 at 09:56

Vintage fixtures and fittings can sell for quite a lot via eBay etc.

Look at what is on sale for what price and go from there

Despite the great fear nowadays
you may want to keep some asbestos wool and/or sheet (carefully)
it has many uses and will be impossible to find soon.

ganger631 - 23-4-2016 at 10:16

So, no chance of any silver/copper alloy metal in circuit breaker?

violet sin - 23-4-2016 at 12:37

Yep, silver on circuit breaker contacts, quite possibly all black iron water pipes though instead of copper. Sewer drain pipe usually has lead poured on any union between pipes. May find a decent transformer for the doorbell. Ceramic tubes supporting the electrical wires through wood can be usefull. I have found several old light switches that mooved fluidly instead of clicking. Inside was a small glass joined metal drum(2 small cups sealed face to face with glass), which sloshes if you shake it, pretty darn sure its mercury. Havent opened one yet. But it wouldnt contain much as its a little smaller than a penny in diameter and 0.5" end to end.

You may not have a whole lot of fun getting the electrical insulation off copper wire. Ive seen a lot that is like tarred fiberglass, LAME to strip. Not worth the headache, just recycle it wrapped for a lower price save your skin and lungs. It got me through a pair of coveralls.

220 socket for the stove or dryer looks somewhat promosing for an electrode holder in electrochem. Heavy duty, free and about the right size if you mount it facing downward on a support. Lamp globes for old lights (ceiling/halls/closets) come in a lot of cool shapes and some are usefull for crystalizing dishes. Lots of brass in an old toilet, seat/tank joint is sometimes solid brass ~2" dia tube( yucky yes) found an old one in the woods one time. 30+ years exposed to nature has a way of cleaning the yuck off.

If anything else pops to mind ill post it. I do a lot of remodels and have come across all kinds of things. Old shed or garage might have some useful solvents

[Edited on 23-4-2016 by violet sin]

Dr.Bob - 23-4-2016 at 12:54

The trim wood in many older homes is incredible, I have seen old homes up north with all walnut trim, some is huge, can be worth a bit but hard to remove and hard to find the right place to sell it. But it might be worth it. And some of the larger beams and rafters might be worth a bit as recycled lumber. If it is old enough and large enough, they are worth a bit.

mayko - 23-4-2016 at 15:14

The high school I attended was previously an old hospital. Legend has it that, while the construction crew was remodeling and repurposing, they pulled a bunch of pipes out of the walls and dumped them on the lawn. An enterprising fellow drove by in a pickup truck, stopped, backed up, and asked if he could have them. The construction crew readily agreed that he could take their garbage for them, and would he like the pile of copper on the other side of the building?
No, he said, just this stuff here.

They later realized that he wasn't after the copper. The pipes he was interested in had come from the old dark room where medical X-rays were developed. Decades of silver salts had been poured down the drain, and displaced the copper.

One person's trash....

j_sum1 - 23-4-2016 at 16:37

That is an interesting story mayko. And really quick thinking on the part of the guy who got the pipes.

CuReUS - 24-4-2016 at 02:58

I can't believe that the radiology techs were that stupid.:o ,didn't they know you could get back the silver using even a weak reducing agent like glucose, from the urine of diabetics (after you alkalized it :D )

Dr.Bob - 24-4-2016 at 13:19

I know someone who when leaving an analytical job, asked if he could have all of the old gaskets saved from one of the old MS's. Since that MS was very old and about to be junked, his fairly new and young boss said sure, not aware of the fact that they were made from gold, and the pound or so of them saved for years was worth a good chunk of cash. I have seen similar cases were idiots threw out $1000's worth of chemicals, catalysts, or rare materials. Oh well.