Salvage strategy

Thread Starter

Joe Stavitsky

Joined Apr 5, 2020
A lot of ewaste on the curbs around my residence. Mostly flatscreens, but occasional PC peripherals (printers mainly) and kitchen appliances (microwave). I'm wondering if there's any salvage potential for projects or any chance to repair it for flipping. I'm on phyical disability and I have too much time and not enough cash.

Many thanks in advance



Joined Aug 7, 2020
You would be surprised how many trivial faults you would find. Sometimes all that is required is to replace a mains cable or even just a fuse.
My neighbours threw out a flatscreen TV, and I expected it would just be the backlight power supply and easily fixable. However the backlight worked and there was no picture, fault was a broken ribbon cable with thousands of conductors, so it was un-repairable. I removed the LCD entirely and turned it into a over-bench light for my workshop.

If you are selling your repaired products as working items, you need a Portable Appliance tester, you need to keep records of the tests and you need product liability insurance.


Joined Jan 6, 2004
I spent too much time in that salvage activity. All what I got is still with me.

The few projects I built with those components do not justify de so many hours (a huge amount) wasted.

Took me 40 years and moving where I live now, 6 years ago, to understand that.


Joined Jun 7, 2009
I had submitted a comment in a local board, looking for electronics, and was flooded with people looking to get rid of their junk. I did end up meeting some good folk and purchased a couple of tube radios. My local eBay recycler had offered a lot of 6 pro art monitors, not working. I won the lot with a bid of $25 and free pickup. Repaired all the monitors with the same two capacitors, and resold each monitor for $100.
I still put out postings for local area, but I only look at high end audio, guitar amps, collectables. Depending on your mobility, appliance repair can be good work.


Joined Jan 23, 2014
People chuck out working LCD monitors and small TVs, so don't be surprised if there's nothing wrong. (My 27" Samsung monitor was a sidewalk freebie.) Might be possible to sell them for money to the kind of people who are too busy/lazy to look for real bargains.
Not much to salvage in a inkjet printers. Monitors can have useful frosted plastic diffusers, or strips of white LEDs, and can potentially be turned into light panels. DVD players have tray motors that are ideal for kids to tinker with (they'll run from an AA cell and already have a pulley), and the spindle usually has a rare earth fridge magnet which isn't worth the effort to remove. I save the TOSLINK transmitters, IR receivers, and sometimes the RCA connector blocks. DVD recorders have lasers capable of burning. Really old Amana microwaves may be collectible now (I regret chucking mine out now); they may just need new caps. The other micowave problem I've seen is a thermal switch/fuse that opened because someone cooked a muffin for 15 minutes instead of 15 seconds. I bypassed that and have been using the oven for nearly 20 years. Microwave oven transformers are good for hobby projects like spot welders; you might be able to sell those to tinkerers. Thermal switches would be worth salvaging to potentially fix other ovens. Save the glass turntables. If you encounter a fridge or freezer, the thermostat might be the problem or be worth salvaging to repair another one. iPod sound docks can have useful speakers or amplifiers lurking inside, and might be adaptable to Bluetooth. There's probably good money to be made screwing a bluetooth amp module to the back of an orphaned speaker and selling that as a one-of-a-kind Bluetooth speaker.

There's only one place left in town that sells electronic components (used to be four, plus Radio Shacks), and they don't stay open late or on weekends, so for me it's useful to salvage small parts. I can't justify $8 shipping from Digikey for a couple of bucks in parts, and buying from China is rolling the dice. Things might never arrive, or be counterfeit. The best things to salvage are older boards with through-hole components. I harvested loads of transistors and resistors from a CRT monitor and a "black plastic cr@p" AM/FM tuner; an Alpine car amp is up next once the bench is clear enough. Genuine original Japanese semiconductors with provenance (take a picture before desoldering) may be worth selling online. High power battery chargers were full of inconvenient surface mount components, but I did get some useful power resistors (fixed a 1955 Chevrolet radio with them), and flash PIC microcontrollers, film caps, 3 mm LEDs. And the alloy case may be useful. I've come across a few gizmos with in-circuit-programmable Atmel micros; eventually I may try using one as an Arduino. Several things with character LCD displays, which can be easily connected to Arduinos with the aid of a cheap adapter board. A Ford Ranger instrument panel yielded gauge stepper motors which I'm hoping to use with Arduino to update a mechanical tach, and maybe do something sillier like indicate number of unread emails. There might be money to be made selling bits like that to local hobbyists through online ads that link to a personal site or with a regular flea market table.
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Joined Jan 23, 2018
Salvage parts, IF they can be easily salvaged and are not the cheap stuff. Salvaged small resistors do not make sense, but those rated over a few watts do. Some capacitors, mica and plastic, but not usually electrolytic. Transformers, power, output, and other functions can be quite handy. Heatsinks never go bad, but they might be ugly. Many connectors athat are soldered can be re-used if you know how to unsolder and re-solder. Often vacuum tubes are still good, or at least sort of good. So lots of the more expensive parts are worth salvaging, but only if you are able to figure a use for them. If one is miserably slow at unsoldering then NO, don't waste your time. And never pay for scrap, there is so much for free to be rescued from the trip to a landfill. Actual repairable items are another realm, so far I only mentioned salvaging parts. Repairing requires either understanding how they work, or a lot of really good luck.


Joined Oct 2, 2009
Salvaged small resistors do not make sense...
Actually, I save PCBs with SMD components.
While I have a very good stock of 5% 1/4W E12 series thru-hole resistors, my stock of SMD resistors is lacking.
I do salvage SMD resistors from old boards when I have to.


Joined Oct 3, 2010
I think there is a cost(time)/benefit analysis that yields a different result for each person. As far as mine goes, the only thing I'll stop if I see, is an older (non-inverter) microwave, for the transformer. And the door switches. Most everything else, isn't worth the (my) time. This was not always the case though; I used to come home with roadside TVs, refrigerators, washers, etc. I never made any money at that, and the space that the junk took up was space that couldn't be used for better junk. I'm a more discerning hoarder now. Industrial surplus only. And microwaves.


Joined Sep 24, 2015
You'd be surprised how quickly you can build up a stockpile of stuff you almost never use. I salvaged a bunch of microwave ovens. Modified a few transformers but have yet to find a practical use for them. One thing that DID come in handy was the micro-switches that come in those ovens: I have a water and ice dispenser in my refrigerator. It got so that you had to literally bang the glass under the lever to dispense ice or water. The problem was a faulty microswitch. Turned out I had in my stockpile just the right switch and quickly replaced it. Dispenser works great now.

I've used a few more switches. One detects the freezer door (not refrigerator) when it's open. If it's open too long it triggers an alarm. That has been helpful too. A major part of the electronics involved in that project came from a tread mill. I have a band saw that had a bad motor. The replacement cost $185 (US). I welded up a bracket and mounted a tread mill motor along with the TM speed controller and now have a variable speed band saw. I also have a TON of junk I won't need until after I toss it in the recycler. Always happens that way.

Scrapping can have its advantages. But it comes with big disadvantages too. Storage and finding a part you need. It's like having a coffee can full of nuts and bolts. You have to dig through to find suitable combinations in the right size. Often much easier to just go buy new.


Joined Jan 27, 2019
SInce you mentioned repairing items I would suggest you contact for some advice. They are a right-to-repair advocacy group. mostly in the UK and EU but international. They have workshops and events, and actively repair items of all kinds. I would expect they could provide some advice on the idea.

Also, if you intend to repair, collecting spares from otherwise unrepairable items is a very good idea. Unlike salvaging for the sake of general parts (which is sometimes helpful if you know what to bother with), salvaging for a spares inventory can be extremely useful.

Once you know popular parts, PCBs, and sub-assemblies, you can figure out what to stockpile and what to pass on. Even mechanical parts and cases can be useful for some items. It’s a matter of learning what you are likely to be able to find, how it is likely to have failed, and being able to categorize the discovered spares by failure mode so you can get working bits from them to fix things that failed a different way.

If you have the spare time, I think you can be successful. It‘s a matter of accumulating practical knowledge about candidate items and also about which non-working things might help fix them.

Good luck.

DNA Robotics

Joined Jun 13, 2014
Window unit air conditioners and other appliances that have a big ugly plug with a circuit breaker on them, that is a weak point. Inexpensive A/C quits and no one is going to call a repair man. All it needs is a new plug without a fragile circuit breaker PC board.