In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to be a DIY-er (that’s Do-It-Yourself-er, if you didn’t know). Websites like angieslist.com and houzz.com are filled with professional builders, designers, plumbers, remodelers, architects, and more, giving away the secrets of their trade for free. Vacuum repair gurus post videos of their procedures on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. 30 years ago you were forced to consult a professional, find a book on the topic (and pray it answered your question), or just pay for the service. Today you can find discussion after discussion about any project you would ever undertake. However, no amount of information will change the fact that professionals have the tools to perform their jobs well, and you most likely do not. You can’t expect to perform a plumber’s job without a plumber’s toolbelt. So today, we are writing about the one of the biggest tools of them all: dumpsters.
If you live within Cincinnati’s city limits, you are only allowed one city-approved garbage can, and you are subject to a hefty fine if you overfill it. If you live outside the limits, chances are your garbage men are more lenient with your trash, but you still can’t pile all of your debris by the curb on Sunday. Again, not only will the garbage men not pick it up, you’ll get fined! That’s where you need a dumpster, and that’s where we come in.
Of course, some jobs are too big for trash bags, but too small for dumpsters. In the recent years, dumpster bags have popped up. You’ve probably seen them advertised on TV or in your neighbor’s front yard. We’re going to tell you all about dumpsters, dumpster bags, and when it’s best to use each.
What are dumpster bags?
So, here’s the rundown on dumpster bags. They’re 3 cubic yards in volume and are usually big and green. You buy them at any home improvement store, like Home Depot or Lowes, and they only cost $30 each. They come in a small package. It’s no more of a hassle than buying, say, a bunch of garbage bags. The real cost comes from the pickup. In Cincinnati, it costs $119 for the first bag pickup and $99 for any additional bags. The catch is that if you have three bags, they all have to be picked up at the same time for the discount to apply. You can’t schedule one pickup for Monday and the next for Tuesday and still get the discount. The price varies by location, and in some places, it’s as much as $200 a bag. So, we’ve got it pretty good here in Cincinnati.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare a tiny dumpster bag to a dumpster designed for industrial-scale jobs, so we are going to make the comparison with the 15-yard dumpster—the closest in size to the 3-cubic-yard dumpster bag. It’s the smallest size we offer, and it’s like the dumpster bag in that they’re both intended for residential jobs only.
Rules and Restrictions
You might not have known this, but there are certain things you can’t put in a dumpster: things like refrigerators, tires, tree stumps, and batteries. Dumpster rentals don’t prohibit these items out of spite, though. After dumpsters leave with your garbage, they are taken to a landfill, and landfills charge extra to dispose of these items. If you fill a dumpster with prohibited items, rental companies will pass these costs on to you along with an additional fee for the inconvenience.
Dumpster bags are subject to these restrictions and then some. Only 1/3rd of the dumpster bag can be filled with either bricks or dirt because of how heavy they are. Also, if the dumpster bag does contain bricks, dirt, or other dense material, those materials need to be arranged evenly. If they are too concentrated on one side of the bag, it will rip, spilling garbage all over your yard or driveway.
Additionally, both dumpsters and dumpster bags have weight limits. It varies for dumpsters, but for dumpster bags, it is strictly 3,300 pounds. Any more than that and the crane that comes to pick up the bag cannot hold it.
What happens if you break the rules?
Keeping within the weight limit is the most difficult part of using a dumpster or dumpster bag. Since there is no home scale that can weigh something as heavy as a dumpster, you are forced to take your best guess. Unfortunately, if you have a dumpster bag and guess wrong, the pickup company will refuse to pick it up until you get it down to the proper weight. They’ll charge you for the trip, though. Then you’re left with almost two tons of garbage and no way to get rid of it!
Dumpster rental companies still fine you if you put in restricted materials or go above the weight limit, but they will take the dumpster away either way. Think about it: when you buy a dumpster bag, you own it. When you rent a dumpster, the rental company owns it. No dumpster company is going to leave their dumpster (which cost them thousands of dollars) with you (unless you’ve reserved it for a certain number of days, of course). And since there is no easy way to weigh either a dumpster or a dumpster bag, if you’re worried you’re going to go over the weight, you’re much better off just renting a dumpster.
How soon can you pick up my trash?
Dumpster rental companies are quick to remove their dumpster from your property. Almost every company out there—including us—will pick up your dumpster within 24 hours of when you tell them to. Dumpster bag pickups, however, can take up to three days to come after you call.
How portable are they?
If you’re considering getting a dumpster or a dumpster bag, you might be worried that you won’t be able to fit one in your yard or driveway. Alternatively, you might be worried because dumpsters can damage driveways. To that second point, we have dumpsters with wheels that protect your driveway, but size is definitely a concern. Dumpster bags have a definite advantage over dumpsters in that you can place them basically anywhere, and they’re easier to get into places like the backyard where it would be difficult to place a dumpster. Despite that, you can basically put a dumpster anywhere you could put a dumpster bag. Homeowners can use their driveways or yards. Dumpsters tend to make the grass underneath yellow because of sun deprivation, but there are ways to reverse that. In the city, you can get a permit from the city to park the dumpster on the curb like a car.
Are there different sizes available?
This is another area where dumpsters trump dumpster bags. Since the dumpster bags get picked up by a crane, there is only one size available. This is great if you only need a little bit of trash collected, but there is no replacement for a dumpster if you are remodeling any part of your house.
Dumpsters, on the other hand, come in all shapes and sizes. There are even dumpsters that are just for trees and grass waste, so you can sidestep that pesky no-tree restriction.
Dumpsters > Dumpster Bags
We feel that dumpsters are so much better than dumpster bags that there’s really no contest. However, dumpster bags do have their place. If you are absolutely sure how much garbage a project will accumulate, dumpster bags offer a cheaper and more portable alternative to dumpsters. It’s difficult to be sure, though, and renovations always bring surprises, so we think a dumpster is better every time.
Your home is important to you, so when you remodel your home, you want the best tools for the job. Give us a call and we can talk about the dumpster that’s right for your home and your project.