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.  


Related Articles

Assessing & Improving Indoor Air Quality in the COVID Era

Buildings Need to Breathe

Pest Control Products and Methods

Choosing the Best Approach for Your Building

Securing Air Quality in the COVID-19 Era

HVAC, HEPA Filters, & UV Disinfection

Maintaining Air Quality

Managing the Indoor Environment

Q&A: Neighbor’s Annoying Bed Bug Problem

Q&A: Neighbor’s Annoying Bed Bug Problem

Pest Control Innovations

How Have Methods, Products, and Materials Evolved?



  • 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.
  • I live in a building that has hot water heaters...there are chutes that go.down to the basement and they leave the vent open and the garbage smell comes into my apartment.
  • How do we get residents to comply with not throwing cat litter or not properly bagging their trash before throwing it down rather than just dumping raw trash down the chute so it later needs to be cleaned? Tenants are nasty but they like to push the blame on management when it comes time to clean up their mess.
  • We have a trash room on every floor of high rise condo. Our trash room and chutes have not been cleaned in over one year. I have requested to Manager over and over but she continues to ignore. I have wet mopped mine recently because of the Cvirus I feeling they are playing our health Thanks
  • Neighbors on my floor continuously leave their trash bags wide open and on floor of refuse room. Or they leave them sitting in the chute wide open with garbage falling out. They also throw dirty diapers and dirty uncleaned raw chicken containers just sitting on the floor. Face masks strewn about. Half eaten food. It’s a complete biohazard. I’ve reported it to Managment but tenants won’t change. I don’t feel safe going into the refuse room with our public health pandemic. I will never understand the lack of respect for health of community. This is a rather snobby upscale building and human behavior is disgusting.
  • what happens when the trash chute is stuck with boxes in between floors and the maintenance staff if unable to remove it from between floors. Is there a company once can call to unclog the trash chute. This is happening at least once or twice per month in a newly developed apartment with 15 floors.
  • Get one of those very long poles that you’d find in a retail store and and shove that pole down the shoot as far as it could go , maybe it would reach the boxes.. those metal poles are very long, the ones they use to grab the items practically off the ceilings. Either that or throw a heavy large rock down. 🤪 That’s what I’d do.. good luck. But that’s annoying- put a sign up and tell people to fold their boxes smaller! They could do it..