by Jeff Hauser ||
In a building like ours, taking out the garbage involves way more than just hauling it to the alley for the city to pick up once a week!
Recently, I sat down with property manager Tim Patricio for a wide-ranging discussion about garbage – other disposables to be covered in the next issue — and how it’s handled in our building.
It all begins at the garbage chute. The chute is a 500 foot tall tube piercing the center of our building. At the bottom of the chute is a box that compacts the garbage. From there it goes into small dumpsters that accumulate during the day.
Every weekday morning, staff moves those small dumpsters to the dock where they – along with the contents of the big dumpster behind the loading dock – are picked up by PTCA’s contracted scavenger service.
Back to the chute. It was reconstructed earlier this year, at a cost of about $91,000. Though planned for in our reserve study, work of this sort is accelerated or delayed based on wear and tear over decades of use.
The chute is constructed of tube segments bolted together. Put the wrong items – or the right items wrongly packaged — into the chute, and some very unfortunate things can happen on the way down.
Unbagged and poorly-bagged items catch on those nuts and bolts. Raw meat and dirty diapers thus snagged begin to smell. Given hot, humid weather, we quickly have a very stinky problem.
Ah, you say, not to worry because you live on an upper floor? Sorry. Due to the nature of high-rise buildings, air flows upward through the garbage chute. So you and your neighbors can fully share the experience
Tim’s suggestion: When you have such items, double-bagging them can insure that they get all the way down without leaving remnants in the chute. This is particularly good advice when bagging heavy, wet Items. Imagine the explosion of lightly-bagged food remnants or kitty litter (in a pet-friendly building) after a fall of several hundred feet.
Hard to believe, but occasionally even half-full cans of paint and other liquids are surreptitiously dropped down the garbage chute. Washing down the chute, whether by staff or paid professionals, can itself contribute to wear and tear. The pressurized mix of water with detergent and enzymes prematurely ages the chute and infiltrates gaps in the surrounding walls.
Cardboard boxes sometimes get lodged in the chute. Though lightweight, they are also stiff. When stuck just right, they can support hundreds of pounds of garbage that gets deposited afterward, with ensuing smells and significant structural damage. Actually, this wouldn’t be a problem if residents recycled cardboard as required by our Rules and Regulations (also to be covered in the next issue).
Besides the damage they can cause the chute itself, heavy objects can be a menace if dropped down the garbage chute while the small dumpsters are being moved around. A chunk of granite cut during a remodeling project becomes a formidable projectile by the time it gets all the way down the chute!
Ashtrays are yet another potential hazard. A still-smoldering butt could flare up and start a fire in the chute or a collection dumpster.
Lastly, one of the building’s ongoing headaches is dealing with items left inside the service areas, underneath the garbage chutes or adjacent to them. That is not only a problem of etiquette; it is also a violation of our Rules and Regulations. The area around the garbage chute must be kept clear for both safety and good housekeeping.
So here’s the word on the garbage chute: If it’s for disposal but wrong for the garbage chute, bring the item along next time you come downstairs. Then take the short detour out back to put it directly in the dumpster around the corner from the loading dock.
And, cautions Tim, if you notice things stuck, stinky or otherwise improper, call the office. Someone will be up pronto to investigate.