Chutes and Ladders Properly Maintaining Trash Chute Compactors

 Keeping the trash chutes and collection rooms of multifamily buildings clean,  sanitary and stench-free is a big job, and an important one. Poorly-maintained  chutes are not just gross—they're breeding grounds for pests, bacteria, and other harmful contaminants you  really don't want in your building. That's why it's critical that your building  staff and maintenance professionals stay on top of keeping your chutes in good  order.  

 Into the Hopper

 Trash chutes—also called hoppers—were originally used to drop rubbish down to a basement incinerator, where it  would be burned. While burning garbage is a pretty good way to get rid of tons  of bulky, smelly trash, it's terrible for the environment. For that reason,  incinerators were banned in most New York City residential buildings in the  1980s. Today, building refuse is routed to trash compactors where it's squashed  into manageable parcels, which are in turn picked up by the Department of  Sanitation (DSNY) or a private carting company.  

 Compactors are certainly an improvement over incinerators, but bags of trash  still have to get down to a building's basement via a trash chute—and unfortunately, they don't always make it down there in one piece. Bags  break, even in the compactor, and some residents will also stuff items in the  chute that are clearly too large to fit (pizza boxes are a prime offender),  causing backups. Careless residents will even throw dirty diapers and cat  litter directly into the chute, sans bag. Just imagine being the next person to  open the trash chute door after such shenanigans and getting a face full of  bacteria-laden air.  

 Beware the Air in There

 Waste material, debris, and allergens can build up in a building’s airways and passages, turning the duct system into a perfect environment for  the proliferation of mold, bacteria, and other harmful organisms. Some studies  have even shown bacterial growth, including salmonella and e.coli, on the inner  surfaces of garbage chutes and near the trash rooms. And the problem doesn't  stop at the chute—garbage chutes are equipped with vents, and the air inside can circulate into  the hallways and even into individual apartments, exposing everyone in the  building to airborne bacteria.  

 When chutes are not cleaned and maintained properly, grease, grime, and bits of  debris can also pose an increased risk of fire. And let’s not forget the wildlife that can move in and turn a dirty trash chute into a  five-star hotel; primarily roaches, rats, and mice. Vermin can be a year-round  issue, but in the colder months when buildings are shut tight and food sources  are scarce, the problems can multiply with alarming speed.  

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2 Comments

  • What is needed is to enforce those rules you have described. There is nothing more nauseating than a filthy, smelly garbage chute.
  • I do agree with the above comments. My apartment where we live our trash chute continously stay jammed even on Sundays because our leasing office is closed on Sundays and severals tenants are continously leaving their trash bags on the floor. I live in Southern California how do tenants enforce those rules.