How to Unclog a Trash Chute

A blocked trash chute can be a real inconvenience for both building management and residents. Not only does it make it difficult to dispose of trash, but it can also lead to unpleasant odors, attract pests, and even create fires.

If you're a building manager or other property supervisor and you're faced with a clogged trash chute, don't worry. With the right tools and approach, you'll be able to quickly and easily clear the blockage and get the chute running smoothly again.

Why Do Trash Chutes Get Blocked?

To prevent clogs, property managers often post signs inside trash rooms near the intake doors. These signs remind users what items are and aren't allowed to go down the chute in order to prevent blockages. Some of these items include:

  • Cardboard boxes that are too large or oddly shaped can be stuck in the chute - such as pizza boxes, appliance boxes, Amazon boxes, packing materials etc.
  • Christmas trees and other forms of larger, dead plants or flowers
  • Large children's toys
  • Bulky furniture items (yes, people will try to throw old mattresses down garbage chutes!)

What to Do When the Trash Chute is Jammed

As a building manager or other property supervisor, maintaining a clean and working trash chute is likely an important responsibility. Tenants or residents may reach out to you with issues such as blockages, odors or other cleanliness concerns. These problems can be easily resolved.

  • The first step is figuring out what is jamming up the trash chute. Grab a flashlight to inspect the chute and determine which floor the blockage is located on.
  • If the blockage is located near an intake door, you may be able to reach the clog with a long-handled tool, such as a trash grabber or long broom.
  • Try and break up the blockage with the tool, to remove as much trash/debris as possible.
  • Sometimes, the trash compactor is full at the bottom floor, causing trash to back up into the chute as well

Here's a video showing another example from the bottom of the rubbish chute:

Prevent Clogs With Proper Trash Chute Cleaning

Let's face it - as time goes on, garbage chutes WILL get dirty. Bags will break, food will spill out and people will throw things in them that they shouldn't. This is why it's important to keep up with regular trash chute cleaning and maintenance.

Removing all the built up trash residue and grime with a solution sprayed from hot water pressure washers will help prevent clogs and blockages. This is very important, as there have been building fires in recent years due to clogged trash chutes (one in Seattle and another in New York which lead to a young boy's death!).

A cleaning company can help make it easy by doing the cleaning, unclogging, and maintenance of the system on a regular schedule using specialized equipment. A clean trash chute will keep the residents happy by maintaining a healthy and hygienic environment in the building, keeping the floors free from odors and potential fire risks.