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Trash Compactors: The Less Considered Appliance

As host of the podcast "Consumer Review Report," I'm always excited to talk and write about different kinds of products such as this.

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Appliances that are used frequently need repair at times, and trash compactors are no different. A trash compactor is a trash receptacle that makes the most of its space by compressing the trash until the bin is completely full.

Trash compactors come in varying types and sizes, manual or automatic, and can be freestanding, under-the-counter, or convertible models. However, because a trash compactor is made up of parts and components, which operate a hydraulic ram that compacts the trash, these parts and components can wear or be damaged, causing failure.

Why Having a Trash Compactor is a Good Idea

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Not only does it make the chore of taking out the garbage easier, but a trash compactor also has an eco-friendly impact as well.

Compacting household trash reduces waste by up to 75%. This helps in the chore of taking out the trash because it doesn't have to be done as frequently.

Not only does it make time spent on trash chores more efficient, but it can save money. Less money is spent on waste removal fees and extra trash containers.

The eco-friendly impact that a trash compactor has is two-fold:

  • Encourages recycling by being able to use the compactor to process recyclables
  • Takes up less space in landfills and municipal dumps.

Types of Trash Compactors

There are different types of trash compactors that will fit your needs based on the space available and the affordability factor.

Manual or Automatic

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The manual trash compactor requires manual force to compress the trash. Some of these types of compactors have a compactor built into the lid that you push down on. These are more affordable but require more effort.

An automatic trash compactor can compact trash at the touch of a button and a motor. They may cost more but are more efficient at compacting trash.

Freestanding Models

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These trash compactors need extra space in the kitchen but do provide additional counter space. Cutting boards are manufactured to fit the tops of these types of trash compactors for a flexible workspace.

Under-the-counter Model

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These models fit between cabinets, hidden away and not visible to guests. These do not provide additional counter space.

Convertible Models

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These versatile trash compactors can be converted into freestanding or under-the-counter appliances depending on the needs of the homeowner.

Common Trash Compactor Problems

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1. The Trash Compactor is Making Unusual Noises

Noises such as banging, thumping, squealing or whining can signify a worn or broken part. Plastic parts such as drive gears and motor gears have teeth that can wear or break. Damage to the power screw sockets can cause this sort of racket as well.

2. The Trash Compactor Won't Start

Faulty switches, such as the start switch or directional switch can prevent the compactor from starting. Another possibility is the drive motor. Even the foot pedal can be at fault.

3. The Trash Compactor's Ram Gets Stuck

If the ram is stuck in the down position, the drive gear, directional switch, or switch terminals may be the culprit in this situation. If the ram is stuck in the up position, the power nuts may be damaged.

4. The Trash Compactor Keeps Running After the Cycle or Won't Stay On to Complete a Cycle

Again, switches such as the top limit/directional switch, the cycle selector switch or the drive motor can contribute to these problems.

If the trash compactor continues to run after the cycle, the top limit/directional switch or the start switch may have to be replaced.

If the compactor does not stay on to complete the cycle, again, the top limit/directional switch may have to be replaced. Other faulty components that can display this problem are the cycle selector switch or the drive motor.

5. The Drawer Won't Open or Won't Stay Closed

The drawer rollers could be damaged or warped in some way. They could also need to be greased for a smooth operation.

If the foot pedal is misaligned because of loose screws, this can cause this type of problem as well.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Trash Compactor?

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It costs considerably less to repair a trash compactor than to replace it. Parts can cost anywhere between $20 for a roller assembly to $400 for a motor and drive gear kit. Switch kits can range from $75 for an actuator switch kit to $200 for other types of switches or switch kits.

Is it Worth Having a Trash Compactor Repaired?

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It certainly is worth having a trash compactor repaired rather than replaced. According to HomeAdvisor,

"Trash compactor prices are around $1,400 on average and typically range from $700 to $2,500, depending on the manufacturer and brand you purchase. If you plan on hiring a pro to install your new trash compactor, expect to pay around $150 to $250 on labor alone."

Noting the cost differences between replacing and repairing, the choice to repair rather than replace is an obvious one.

What Causes Trash Compactor Repairs to be Expensive?

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Trash compactor repairs can get expensive when the trash compactor continues to be operated, even when there is an obvious problem. For example, if there is an unusual noise, and it is ignored, this can turn into a bigger problem and cause the cost of repairs to be more expensive.

The way to avoid expensive repairs is to take notice of anything unusual in how your trash compactor is operating. Once you've noticed an anomaly, discontinue use.

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