How Does a Trash Chute Work?

Posted on Jan 1, 2021

Maybe you have one of these in your apartment building, or maybe you have noticed a small door on each floor of your office building. These small doors lead to the trash chute, or garbage chute, and are an integral part of the health, safety and cleanliness of your building. A garbage chute is a length of tubing, usually made from galvanized steel, that allows objects to fall from a higher location to a lower point. Trash chutes are a continuous length, so the people on the top floor and the people on the second floor (and everyone in between) use the same chute to move their trash downward.

Why Use Trash Chutes? 

Many high- and mid-rise buildings have trash chutes, especially in apartments or condominium buildings, where many people are living in one building. These chutes are used to collect garbage and move it to one central location for pick up or removal. So why do we need trash chutes? Why not walk to the end location, like you would in a home walking out to your trash can? In an apartment building, there may be many stories, and if you live on the higher stories, you probably do not want to walk down many flights of stairs or take the elevator every time you need to take the trash out. Additionally, carrying a bag of trash through the halls and elevator of a crowded building is not sanitary or attractive, where trash chutes are discrete and much more sanitary. Keeping the flow of trash through these chutes smooth and avoiding blockages does require regular garbage chute cleaning, however.

Where Does The Garbage Go? 

Once you toss your bag into the trash chute and close the door, your job is done, but you may wonder where that bundle of garbage goes. Different locations will have different models of trash chute. Some will deposit the trash into a dumpster or larger garbage can at the bottom, to be picked up by local trash collection weekly. Some places may have a trash compactor at the bottom. 

What Can I Put In My Garbage Chute?

Trash chutes get a lot of use, because so many residents use them every day. Many times, the building manager or property supervisor has posted signs at the intake doors outlining what can and cannot be put through the trash chute. Common items that should not be put down a trash chute: 

  • Pizza boxes or other overlarge or strange shaped boxes – these can get stuck in the chute
  • Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands or other live plants – these can leak sap or other material on the inside of the chute 
  • Hangers, strands of lights or other protruding objects – can get stuck in the chute 
  • Cleaning products, liquid soap or disinfectant – can make a mess or combine with other chemicals to create toxic fumes 
  • Flammable items, such as recently lit cigarettes or cigars 

Other items that may be a concern, such as cat litter, dirty diapers or household food waste, should be wrapped tightly in a small, secure bag. Do not overfill bags or use oversized bags that do not easily slide down the chute. 

Maintaining A Trash Chute

With so many people extensively using the trash chute, you will want to be sure it is working properly. Regular chute maintenance can prevent build up, as well as unpleasant odors or sights, which will keep all residents happy. Make sure all doors on the trash chute seal when closed. This will keep odors and germs in and prevent the spread of smoke or flames in the event of a fire.
Trash chutes need to be cleaned and sanitized regularly to prevent the spread of odors, germs and bacteria. Hiring a trash chute cleaning company is the easiest way to have this done, and many places offer annual service contracts, so you do not have to think about regularly hiring someone. Hiring a professional trash chute company that cleans, deodorizes, disinfects and maintains your trash chute will save you time and money in the long haul, and will help keep your residents happy. 

As A Resident 

Even though it may seem like it is not your job as the resident to maintain the trash chute, there are some key things you can do to help keep things running smoothly.

  • Use smaller garbage bags. Smaller bags will slide more easily to the bottom of the chute. Instead of building oversized 30-gallon kitchen bags, switch to a smaller trash can and 13-gallon sized bags. 
  • Take the garbage out each day, instead of allowing trash to build up over several days or a week. This will ensure small size, so the bag can slide easily to the bottom. 
  • Break down your trash as much as possible to conserve space. This includes breaking down cartons, crushing coffee pod cups or flattening boxes. 
  • Use recycling when applicable. If your building has a recycling center or specific room, separate out your recycling. Not only is this better for the environment, but it also saves space in the trash dumpster or compactor. 
  • Use your garbage disposal if you have one. The less food that is put down the trash chute, the less chance for bacterial and unpleasant smells. 

Are you in need of a trash chute cleaning service? Contact the team at Airpro Indoor Air Services today for more information or to set up your appointment.