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Trash Compactor 101: Why You Need One

Wondering if a trash compactor is a good idea for your home? Did you know AHS covers trash compactors? Learn how they work and who they benefit. 

Trash compactor

Taking out the garbage is one of those chores no one in the household wants to claim, but it's also one of the most important. Whether you have a large family or live in a small space, your trash cans also have a tendency to overflow. How can you keep a lid on your household's garbage and maintain good sanitation throughout your home? One solution is to invest in a trash compactor.

What is a trash compactor?

Traditionally installed in your kitchen, a trash compactor is a trash can, but with a difference. This garbage receptacle is equipped with a hydraulic-powered metal ram that crushes refuge into a small, dense package. This package can then be bagged and easily disposed of in your outdoor garbage can or at any local waste removal facility.

How does a trash compactor work?

Trash compactors are very easy to operate and employ relatively simple components — the metal ram that compresses the waste, a bin to contain that waste and an electrical switch that powers the unit. Using a trash compactor is equally straightforward. Place your waste items into the bin, and when the bin is full, close the receptacle and turn on the compactor. Most modern trash compactor models now incorporate additional safety features, such as an alarm that will sound in case of a malfunction or if the bin has been loaded improperly.

Nevertheless, a trash compactor is a very powerful appliance, and you and your family members should follow certain precautions whenever using one. Never use your hands or feet to push trash down into the bin. And never allow children to play near an unsecured trash compactor or operate one unattended.

What are the different types of trash compactors?

Trash compactors vary in size and by type. They are typically between 12 and 15 inches wide, 34 to 35 inches tall and approximately 24 inches deep. The three main models of trash compactor are freestanding, under-the-counter and convertible. 

Freestanding trash compactors sport finished tops that can double as additional counter space. Under-the-counter trash compactors are usually installed between kitchen cabinets, much like an automatic dishwasher might be. True to their name, convertible trash compactors can be installed as either freestanding or under-the-counter units.  

Why should I buy a trash compactor?

By reducing the volume of household waste by up to 75 percent, trash compactors can certainly help you cut back on the frequency with which you have to empty your garbage, but they provide additional benefits as well.

  • Compacted trash takes up less space in municipal dumps and landfills, reducing your household's environmental footprint. 
  • Trash compactors can help encourage recycling. Some homeowners dedicate their trash compactor to processing recyclable materials, such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, etc. 
  • Compacting your trash can help you save on waste removal costs, e.g., fees imposed by the city or your homeowner association (HOA) if your household produces so much trash that you need extra outdoor garbage receptacles.

If you do choose to rely on a trash compactor to help make taking out the garbage less of a chore, you'll also want to protect the investment you've made. That means following the manufacturer's instructions for use and performing any recommended preventive maintenance. 

To further minimize the costs associated with the repair and replacement of your home's kitchen appliances — including your trash compactor, all its major components and parts — consider purchasing an American Home Shield® Trash Compactor Home Warranty. Our flexible plans can help you protect your home as well as your household budget. 


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