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  1. #1

    Commercial Refrigeration Copper Scrap

    Hello,

    Sorry to barge in on your forum and ask for help, but I was hoping some other people who work for a living might help me out.

    I recently lost my job and was approached by a friend with an "opportunity" to make a little money buying copper scrap from a closed Sam's Club. He wants to split the investment, the work, and the profits.

    I'm looking for some insight as to how much copper is in a store like this. The auctioneer states that the copper scrap buyer gets everything from "12" of the units themselves through the compressor house and to the evaporator units/boxes."

    But, from the pictures, it looks like the compressor house is outside and sits under the evap units? (I'm general construction, not HVAC, so I really have little idea what I'm talking about).

    Does anyone have any insight as to how much copper there may be?

    I have a chart that shows the weight per foot based on pipe diameter, but I don't want to drive 10 hours (yep, ten hours) @ 18mpg only to find out there is hardly enough to bother with.

    Virtual beers to anyone that can help, PayPal enough for a sixer for anyone that really knows what he's talking about. Thanks.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    25,787
    You're gonna need a big truck, a big saw, and/or a small crane.

    Those condensers (proper term) probably shade a ton. Not all copper, though. Steel and aluminum, too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire England
    Posts
    405
    Has it been verified that the pipes are copper? they could be steel. See if you can get the auctioneer to verify its copper.
    Martyn

    50 & 60 hz but 100's worse

  4. #4
    Thanks for the reply. The condensers are actually being sold separately, we'd only get the copper that connects all the bits and pieces together.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the second reply. The piping within the unit pictured is copper, the piping that goes to the walk-ins is black (and its not insulation), so I assume its steel.

  6. #6
    Here's another picture. Am I wrong in assuming that this is the inside of the outside unit pictured?

    (BTW, I would love to bid on the condensers for scrap, but they are < 3 years old, so my guess is that they will be snatched up for their value as fully operational, young units)
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,121
    Since when does a Sam's Club close down for good?

    The employees there must have voted in a union or something. You know the people at Wally World corporate will have NONE of that!

    Didn't mean to hijack the thread - I would imagine that the compressor room is worth more as a whole. There is a market for used equipment like that.

    There could be thousands of dollars worth of copper pipe in that store - it could be suspended in the ceiling. Are you able to spend the time cutting it all out with a scissor lift?

  8. #8
    I think the auction company's website says they moved locations, there is actually a second store about a month later that has a similar set up (copper also listed in the auction catalog there). I'm guessing in Walmart's Billion Dollar World, selling everything off is easier than moving the stuff to a new location... must be nice.

    This is what the auctioneer replied in my email to him "I state during the auction that the refrigeration units sell with 12” of copper from each unit. So the copper buyer would receive all copper within 12” of the compresser house to the evaporator units / boxes. The stores aren’t very old, so your looking at light copper, but quite a bit of it. "

    But, last time I was in a Sam's (and based on the pics) it looks like the refrigeration units have steel running to them (its black, not insulated). But, again, if I was at the actual store I'd have a better notion.

    If there is copper in the ceiling, a Sunbelt scissor lift for a couple days (only have 48 hours to remove) would not be too expensive considering the potential amount of copper...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,121
    I'd just be very wary of all the possible angles such as time and space constraints. Be aware that you probably won't have the store to yourself. Being able to just cut the pipe down and let it drop with reckless abandon is not probable. What would happen if OSHA showed up, saw you on the scissor lift cutting down pipe, and started asking questions? I'm not sure, but there may be some kind of business licensure required for this work as well. 48 hours is not much time, especially when logistics are not on your side to begin with (was it a 10 hour drive, you said?)

    I'm not saying not to do it, just to be careful. Unless you're a regular demolition for hire type and have done these things before, bid low
    and hope for the best. Make sure you get the most current scrap pricing as well.

    Most of the piping will likely be between 1/2" and 7/8". Standard 1/2" o.d. acr pipe weighs .198 lbs./ft. 7/8" o.d. acr pipe weighs .455 lbs./ft.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    25,787
    Copper will often stain black very quickly after being insulated.

    Sammy and Wally are real sticklers for insulating the piping.

    In a large grocery store, you will literally find MILES of piping. Sam's Clubs are a bit different. They tend to have a few larger boxes and a few cases. The larger boxes have correspondingly larger lines. I have seen WI freezers at Sams with a 2" suction lines.

    If you get the copper, and from the looks of the system, it WILL be copper and not steel. A quick file stroke will verify that.

    In a nutshell, if I could get an opportunity like this, I would probably take it. I could make a buttload of cash in a short period of time.

    One thing that I would get, IN WRITING, is that the copper belongs to you. If you go hauling a ton or so of copper, and I don't think that I am over-estimating the potential quantity, you may be viewed as a criminal rather than a semi-legitimate busines person.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    322
    I don't know about the law where you are at but here in Oklahoma due to copper thefts you have to have a plumber are hvac lic. to sell it here with out it when you try to sell it they will call the cops.

  12. #12
    Thanks jpsmith1cm, I had no idea that copper could stain black. Unfortunately, the pictures are not very clear and I don't think my local Sam's would like it if I scaled their walkins with a file in my back pocket....

    I think we're going to go for it. Its $400 to drive down there and get a hotel for the night. Worst case we end up back on the road the next day empty handed.

    (I'll have a receipt from the auction, but if the scrap yard calls the cops I'd take the inconvenience of proving to them I bought it legitimately over not buying it at all)
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
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    That looks to me like a 'standard' refrigeration system.

    Copper piping throughout.

    With the quantity of copper you are looking at, you will almost assuredly have trouble at the scrap yard. Maybe a few phone calls ahead of time will ease things. Also help you to figure which one pays the best prices and how to handle the copper to get the best dollar for your work. Yes, there is a trick or two.

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