With the onset of spring, many homeowners feel the urge to clean up, in some cases, going so far as renting a dumpster.
Properly loading a disposal container is a science that borders on an art, so today's column is a primer on the finer points of using one.
The first decision you must make is determining the proper size container for the volume of debris you wish to remove. This is a difficult calculation because often it involves making a total cubic account of all your debris, which, in most cases, will be scattered throughout the house.

I have found that if you make a running inventory, accounting for each piece or group of debris by their respective cubic size, you can arrive at an appropriate-sized container. When in doubt, always estimate higher than lower. Although some disposal companies offer variations of the industry standards, you usually can get containers in increments of 10 cubic yard capacities, ranging from 10 to 40 cubic yards.

You will save a great deal of time and effort by having the carting company place the container as close to the debris as reasonably possible. Note that the container has a swing door that you preferably will want to access from a convenient location, because it is best to fill the dumpster working your way toward the swing door.

Keep in mind that site contrainsts, such as narrow egresses, overhead power lines or other obstructions sometimes make it impossible to maneuver the container into an ideal position. In these cases, always abide by the driver's discretion. Have him place ¾-inch plywood strips under the wheels of the container so it will not damage the surface upon which it rests.

The process of filling a container is where the science of demolition becomes a refined art. Ideally, the trick is to load the container with as little "air space" as possible. This term refers to voids between debris. When loading a container, always wear protective clothing and safety gear.

Always fill the container from the back side, working your way toward the swing door. This will allow you to place the debris exactly where you want it. Avoid simply hurling stuff over the walls, which inevitably wastes expensive container space. Hurled debris simply falls in a random field, often full of air space.


Be sure to crush or otherwise flatten debris before placing it in the container. I'll use an absurd example here to explain what I mean by "flatten." Let's say you are throwing away your kitchen table. If you were to place it in the container on its legs, there would be a huge void of air space underneath. If you subsequently placed additional debris atop and around the table, that would be wasted space.

If your container is placed in the street or in an easily accessible location, keep an eye on it at night. Invariably, neighbors and passersby feel they can just toss their stuff into your container without asking. It is your responsibility to watch what goes into your container.

For safety's sake, keep curious children away from the dumpster. Debris poses many dangerous possibilities, which, again, are your responsibility.

Do not load a container over the height of its walls. This is illegal and could cause a dangerous accident if something were to fly off the top of the heap when the filled container was being transported.
Once it's been removed, thoroughly sweep all the adjacent areas. Errant debris, like nails, shards of glass or metal, can be dangerous to people and car tires.


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