When Is It Time to Replace My Mattress?

Americans have a love / hate relationship with our mattresses. We spend almost ⅓ of our time with them, and if it goes well, we have no memory of the experience.

 

Mattresses can be expensive investments, or cheap afterthoughts.

 

With this much time and money invested in finding the right mattress, when it starts to go, you want to carefully evaluate your options.

 

Here are signs that you need to throw your mattress away.

 

  1. It sags. There’s that sweet spot where you and your loved one cuddle, or you burrow in each night. You can find it easily because you sort of “roll in.” That sag, however, indicates that your support and ability to move around at night are diminished. Toss it.

 

  1. It has lumps and bumps. Lumps and bumps and buttons are signs of broken springs or misplaced foam and support. In addition to being a sign of wear and tear, they work against your good night’s sleep. Toss it.

 

  1. It is creaky, or squeaky. First, check if the creak or squeak is coming from your mattress or your box springs. Often the springs will be the culprit, and they should be replaced. If it is the mattress making the noise, but it’s not keeping you up, you can keep it a little while longer. But soon it will be time to toss it.

 

  1. Stains with odors. Pets, children, and a wide range of non-sleeping activities can leave your mattress stained. You can change the sheets and cover that up – you’re probably not hosting dinner parties on the bed anyway … right? But odors? If a quick spray with an over-the-counter cleaner doesn’t do the trick, toss the mattress.

 

  1. Bugs, especially bed bugs. No discussion here. Toss it. But what about …? No. Toss it.

 

  1. Aches and pains from sleeping. Your mattress and a night’s sleep should leave you feeling fit and rested, not tired and tested. If your mattress is the cause of your aches and pains, there is nothing to be done. Toss it.

 

Often your mattress and your box springs are a matched set. They don’t have to be, but a good match is an important thing to consider.

 

If you’ve got two large items to throw away, maybe it is time to consider renting a dumpster and turning this into a project?

How Do I Throw Out a Mercury Thermometer?

You know that you are supposed to be careful when disposing of mercury. But why? And what if it comes in such a tiny amount as what is in a thermometer?

Mercury is a toxic element that has confounded and enticed people since its discovery. The element 80, with the abbreviation Hg, has long been associated with speed. This is because, at room temperatures, it holds together well and glides almost without friction over a surface.

This speed, combined with its color, earned it the nickname “quicksilver.”

Because even water would not stick to it, a popular use for mercury in the past was to treat felt hats. Hatters would rub the element onto the felt surface, making the hat virtually waterproof.

Over time, though, the effect of daily interaction was very pronounced on hatters. They tended to suffer from mental illness or “lunacy” at a high rate, which was the basis for the term “mad as a hatter.” Mercury was the culprit.

Mercury in thermometers

Mercury was also very responsive to changes in temperature. If it got hotter, it would expand. Cooler, it would contract. It became the most common ingredient in home thermometers, as a reliable and sensitive gage of temperature.

However, as the EPA and global environmental groups came to realize, mercury was causing a host of other illnesses in people.

Worse yet, when dumped in the environment, mercury did not break down.

Instead, it steadily made its way to water, remaining in its original form. There it sat until ingested by fish, or the things that fish ate. Then people ate those fishes. As our testing became more sensitive, we came to realize this mercury in the environment threatened our health. This led to a ban on the use of mercury in 2008, with the goal of not using it in the US and limiting its use around the world.

What if I happen across some mercury?

Despite the ban, mercury is still around us. It can be found in an old home science kit, or a thermometer that your mom has used for decades.

If you find mercury in any form while you are cleaning out the basement or a parent’s house, including a trace amount in an old thermometer, there are specific rules for disposal.

Your community likely offers one or more ways to safely dispose of this dangerous element. A quick guide from the EPA is available here: https://www.epa.gov/mercury/storing-transporting-and-disposing-mercury

A search in your phone book or online should reveal a local drop-off site for your hazardous material.

Going Green with Your Dumpster Rental

We are well into the new century and we’ve all heard the phrase “going green.” We have a general idea of what it means. Being  environmentally conscious. Thinking about sustainability. Leaving a place better than we found it.

 

But sometimes when we’re doing a major project at our home, it’s hard to see how “green” fits into the work of construction.

 

Going green no longer means doing the work slowly, or with prohibitively expensive products.

 

Instead, a few simple steps in prep work are all it takes to make sure that you have done the best you can with your rental.

 

Dumpster = Landfill

 

Ultimately, whatever goes in the dumpster goes to the landfill.

 

So this means you have to pay attention at the start of your project in order to have the greenest project possible.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself about whatever project you have going on:

 

  1. Can this item be sold?

 

Sometimes a classified ad or a garage sale or some other small event (perhaps undertaken with neighbors instead of by yourself) is the right solution.

 

Rather than throwing away a room, you can sell it to people eager to PAY YOU in order that THEY CAN TAKE IT AWAY.

 

It’s really the best of both worlds.

 

  1. Can this item be repurposed?

 

One simple way to reduce landfill waste is by repurposing or reusing existing items.  Are you throwing away a dresser or other furniture? Maybe it would have a second life in the garage or perhaps given to a friend’s child who’s moving away to their own apartment for college for the first time.

 

Usually this sort of donation is so welcome that someone else will come and pick it up.

 

Green and easy!

 

  1. Does this item recycle?

 

Think about what each item is made of. Is there a large amount of metal in it, like with a bedframe? You might be able to sell this for scrap.

 

Not a lot of home furnishings recycle, but the occasional item can be recycled. And it just takes a moment of consideration.

 

  1. Can this item be donated to a good cause?

 

Most cities have charities that help find homes for useful furniture and items. Some even pay people to refurbish, clean, and sell these materials. A donation not only takes your stuff out of the landfill, but it can create work and income for others.

 

These charities, like St. Vincent DePaul, are a phone call away, and can quickly tell you whether they need your items. If they do, they will make arrangements to pick them up for you.

 

  1. Call Big Daddy Dumpster

 

Once you’ve gone through the checklist, look at what’s left. If it’s more than what can fit in your trash can or go out curbside, it’s time to call an inexpensive professional service to haul away your trash to the landfill. Big Daddy Dumpsters has all sorts of sizes and options to fit your project.

 

Going through this mental checklist at the start of each project can save you time, money, and effort. All while preserving landfill space for future use!

Remodeling and Disposing of Your Dining Room

As COVID-19 or normal nest-fluffing activities prompt us to make bigger and more comprehensive changes to our house, the dining room is typically considered as an afterthought.

We set it, we forget it.

Silverware pun aside, the formal dining room often receives little love. We do a lot of daily eating in and around our expanded kitchens, and the idea of having company for dinner is still a rare treat.

But when it is time to re-do the dining room, here is a guide for how to handle each part of the redesign.

The table – many dining room designs and redesigns focus on the table. Appropriately so. The table makes the determination for whether you will eat in the dining room at all. Is it too big? Is it too formal? Is it covered with the bills, or a vexing jigsaw puzzle?

If you dispose of your dining room table and chairs: think of St. Vincent DePaul or some other local agency that employs folks to resell furniture. If it is functional, there is likely another life with another family. If your table was damaged to the point of unusability, only then should it be thrown in your Big Daddy Dumpster.

The china cabinet: was it part of a set with the dining room table? Then it’s got to go to make room for the replacement. If not, try to determine if it can be redone in a way that complements your new look. And what about the curios that are stored inside? Are they heirlooms whose story you know? Keep them, if not …

If you dispose of your china cabinet and contents: Determine if it is functional. If so, donate it. There is simply no sense in throwing away working furniture in a country with a 40% poverty rate. If it’s broken or unusable, BDD!

The carpet: It’s the focal point of the space only in that it must work with the table. But it gets heavy use, especially on the corners where people step on it while traveling from room to room. If the whole room is getting re-done, the most likely casualty in this war is the carpet or rug.

If/when you dispose of your carpet or rug: There really isn’t a second life for carpeting or a rug. It’s time to consider renting a dumpster for your project, it just got big.

Window treatments, art, and wallpaper: Sorry, they’re gone. They served their purpose, but they were unique to that space and time and design. For the most part, they’re difficult to remove in a way that preserves them. And no one can use them again.

When you dispose of your window treatments and wallpaper: Dumpster. MAYBE your art can earn a second life at a furniture reseller, but they will have a say in that. Be willing to make the trip knowing that you will return with the same full trunk you had when you set out.

Remodeling (and Disposing of) a Bedroom

Bedrooms are our most personal expression of who we are when we can fully be ourselves. Here, we place homages to our values and our aesthetics. We transition from posters of our favorites musicians to paintings of our favorite scenes, or expressions from the minds of our favorite classical artists.

Often we are working in the bedrooms of our children as they transition from one age to the next, moving through different phases of self expression.

Then one day we must grasp the possibility of this space without them, as they take off into the world.

When our children are young, redoing the room typically means paint and rearranging furniture. When they fly from the nest, the transformation needs to be more radical.

The bed: What will this space be next? If it will maintain its use as a bedroom, but now for guests and even the welcome (temporary) return of our progeny, we keep the bed and simply accent around it.

If your vision does not involve a bed: Donate it. In almost every situation, there is a family who can benefit from a hand-me-down bed. As long as it holds together, you have all the parts, and it is not too badly damaged, St. Vincent DePaul or a similar agency will make your life easier by taking it off your hands for a modest price. The mattress, however, is another issue altogether. Your municipality may have special requirements for the donation / disposal of mattresses, and it may be required to be thrown away.

The dresser: The advice here is pretty clear. No, it’s not easily converted into something else. Nothing says “my home office is really a bedroom” like keeping the dresser. So don’t.

To dispose of the dresser: Always start by exploring the donation route. Working furniture can live a long time, why not help it avoid the landfill?

Curtains, art, and wallpaper: This room was great for your kids. You’re not your kids. These were unique to their location and are hard to remove in a way that allows them to be used again.

When you dispose of curtains, art, and wallpaper: Try and get your kids to take them with them. Maybe they have some great memories attached. It’s clear, you’re either going to throw this stuff out now or you’re going to throw it out in 20 years after storing it that whole time. Dumpster.There just isn’t a second life for them.

Remodeling (and Disposing of) Your Living Room

Once upon a time, the living room was the gathering place of friends and family. Every part of our time at home seemed to center on a space so important to our home that we named it after our primary task: living.

Today, much of the work of a living room has been turned over to the family room or den, a space carved out or given over to a large screen TV, movie-quality speakers, and multiple game devices and streaming services.

Our living rooms have become more formal. They are our house in it’s Sunday Best clothing.

The decision to redo the living room should keep this in mind. Here’s a guide to how to decide what to keep, and how to dispose of the rest.

The couch: Every living room has at least one multi-person couch. Large, dramatic, with distinct features that helped form the character of the room, sometimes it is the first decision made in a space, and all others happen around it. Is it in good shape, though maybe a little work. A good re-upholstering is often expensive, but slightly cheaper than a whole new sofa. But it is is heavily scratched or dinged, perhaps from a pet years ago, or another piece of furniture placed too close, it needs to go.

If you must dispose of your couch: consider giving it to a second-life furniture outlet like St. Vincent DePaul. Often these places will send a truck and a couple burly folks over to your house, and for a small price you can save yourself the big work, and know it’s going to a second home.

The carpet: The carpet in your living room was the most used feature especially on the corners or pathways where people walk while passing through. If it is not worn, and If the colors still work for your new vision, keep it. Otherwise, it’s got to go.

If/when you dispose of your carpet or rug: There really isn’t a second chance for carpeting or a rug. Think about renting a Big Daddy Dumpster for your project, it just got big.

Comfortable chair: This was likely, at some point, matched to the couch. It should face the same fate. Keep it and reupholster it if you can.

If you must dispose of your comfy chair: Donate it, unless it is too badly damaged to re-use. In that case, throw it in the dumpster.

Window treatments, art, and wallpaper: I hate to say it, but they’re the most likely casualties of the decision to remake your living room. They did what they needed to do, but they were unique to their location. For the most part, they’re difficult to remove in a way that preserves them. And no one can use them again.

When you dispose of curtains and wallpaper: Dumpster.There just isn’t a second life for them.

What Size Dumpster Do I Need?

One of the biggest challenges in doing a major remodel project around the house is finding the right size dumpster. This is because there are so many variables.

There are lots of sizes to choose from.

They are built on a scale that is difficult for the average person to visualize.

Most people rarely need to rent one, so we have no experience.

It is hard to imagine how big your project will look when it is dumped in a dumpster.

We are going to try to demystify the process a bit.

Garbage Bags

You’ve probably already looked at the website of a local dumpster dealer and you’ve seen a picture of an average scale human standing in front of an average scale dumpster.

This is meant to be helpful. Really it is. However, we seldom think of our garbage as being scaled with our body.

Instead, we are much more familiar with the size of a garbage bag. We handle those frequently. We have a sense of their size.  So in order to help you visualize it, we are going to explain it in terms of garbage bags.

Your dumpster choices will be marked in terms of “cubic yards” or “yd³”

On average, 1 cubic yard looks about like a medium size dresser, or about 6 trash bags.

Your smallest dumpster choice, the transition point where it makes more sense to rent a dumpster than to put it out in your own trash can, is 10 cubic yards. So this is about 60 trash bags.

  •             10 yd³ = 60 trash bags
  •             15 yd³ = 75
  •             20 yd³ = 120
  •             30 yd³ = 180
  •             40 yd³ = 240

Pickup trucks

OK so maybe garbage bags aren’t how you think. Maybe you are a do-it-yourself kind of person who understands what it means to throw a shovel in the back of a pickup truck, or what it means to load the pickup truck with mulch or dirt.

And besides, it does get pretty challenging to think about size in terms of 60 garbage bags.

Let’s measure in pickup trucks.

  • 10 yd³ = 3 pickup truck loads
  •             15 yd³ = 4-5
  •             20 yd³ = 6
  •             30 yd³ = 9
  •             40 yd³ = 12

This is an especially helpful measure when you are imagining each of those pick up truck loads being driven to your local dump. If it’s right around the corner three trips is no big deal.

However, if you’re like most folks who are doing a big fix-it-up project around the house, the local dump is NOT right around the corner.

And the further away it is, the more time and effort it adds to your project to haul everything there yourself.

Now you’re loading, driving, unloading, driving back … multiple times. And this is time added to the work of demolition or removal.

Many people might even choose a 10 yd³ dumpster to avoid that pain and hassle of even one or two trips to the dump.

Also, you should round up, and get the next biggest size if you are unsure. No one is judging you for not wanting to make any more trips than you have to. Or making no trips at all.

We hope this guide helped you with your project.

Keep Others From Using Your Rented Dumpster

We know what happens. We might, if pressed, even admit that we’ve done it ourselves.

Sometimes things get thrown in the dumpster by someone other than the owner or renter.

It’s no big deal when a member of the working crew throws their Wendy’s bag in there, or someone passing by on the street does the same.

But having strangers illegally filling a dumpster that you rented can be an expensive a time-wasting event.

So how do you prevent it?

Here are some suggestions.

Location: where are you place your dumpster will influence how much outside debris gets placed in it. If it is possible for you to move the dumpster away from the property line and against the building, that is an ideal situation. Removing from sight from the street is even better.

You should work to put it as much on private property as possible. It’s unavoidable that a dumpster placed on or near a public right of way is simply going to collect a little bit of community trash. You can reduce that by placing it in the yard instead of in the street, for instance.

You can make the call if saving some unwanted refuse is worth the dead spot in your yard.

Signs: sometimes it helps just to post simple easy to read signs that explain to people it is illegal for them to put trash in your dumpster. It can be helpful if you know the local municipal fines for doing this.

Signs can be especially helpful if they point out that the site is monitored. Of course, it can help even if you are just claiming that, even when a spot is not monitored.

Fencing: if your dumpster is going to be in place over a long period of time, or perhaps dumped and refilled multiple times, it might be tempting for other work crews in the area to dump larger and larger loads in it over time.

Putting fencing around your dumpster does several things to prevent illegal dumping. First, a good fence makes it clear that dumping from strangers is unwanted.

Second, it just makes it physically harder to get large loads into your dumpster, because now they have to go over a fence.

Third, if you can allow some space between the dumpster and the fence it can make it almost impossible to place anything heavy in the dumpster. This is important because typically charges are added to your final fee based on the weight of the trash in the dumpster. And while we’re not talking hundreds of dollars, we know that this weight and these fees can add up.

Get proactive: Does a neighbor up the street also have a project going on and no dumpster? Knock on their door. Tell them what you’re planning on doing and ask them if they want to get involved and perhaps share the cost of renting a dumpster.

Identifying and heading off potential conflicts down the road can be beneficial for your bottom line and for neighborhood harmony.

A Quick Guide to What You Can’t Put in Your Dumpster

We get versions of this questions of this version all the time:

“What CAN’T I put in my rental dumpster?”

Of course, there is a list of items included in the rental contract, but you want to know the answer before you make the decision to rent a dumpster. So here’s a quick guide to what you can’t put in your dumpster.

First of all please note, this is a list of what you can’t put in YOUR dumpster.

There is a much shorter list to what you can’t put in someone else’s dumpster: everything. You should never put anything in someone else’s rental dumpster. If you do this, you are subjecting yourself and them to possible citations and fines.

The list of prohibited items falls into a couple of different categories.

Home interior:

The following home interior items should not be placed in your dumpster.

  • Mattresses
  • Couches
  • Upholstered chairs
  • Beds
  • Paint / paint cans
  • Televisions
  • Household cleaners
  • Light bulbs
  • Refrigerators
  • Large appliances

Each of these items likely have specific rules in your community for their disposal. In some cases this is because the items can be reused, usually decent furniture fits into that category, and televisions you’ve replaced not because they weren’t working but because you’ve upgraded. Keeping them in use and in circulation saves landfill space and saves another family money.

In other cases the items can’t be disposed of because they are themselves toxic or they contain toxic ingredients. Placing them in the landfill those poses problems to your environment including the drinking water for your community. Your community likely has rules and procedures for disposing of hazardous ingredients.

Garage or lawn and garden:

These garage, lawn, and garden items should not be placed in your dumpster.

  • Pesticides
  • Lawn chemicals
  • Weed killer / herbicides
  • Engine oil or lubricants
  • Propane tanks (even if you’re CERTAIN they are empty)
  • Tires

In each of these cases throwing out the indicated item is a risk to the environment and the people who handle or work at your trash processing facility. In some cases, including engine oil and lubricants, proper recycling means that they can be useful again. It might take an extra step, but reusing and reducing waste goes a long way towards helping the community.

Large item removal

Many municipalities offer the service of removing large items for you. Often you have to call ahead to schedule a pickup of the item on a specific day. This might not be your normal trash pick-up day, because the schedule is handled separately and sometimes is handled by an entirely different company or contractor.

Most communities require you to get it out to the curb which doesn’t require any more or less work than it would’ve taken to get it into a large dumpster. Some communities will even offer the help of someone coming into or up to your house to help with the removal process.

How Do I Dispose of Something with Freon in it?

Freon is the copyright name of a range of chlorofluorocarbons or chlorodifluoromethane used for a generation to cool refrigerators, freezers, homes, and automobiles.

 

The discovery that these chemicals depleted of protective layers around the earth led to their widespread phase-out, intended to become a full ban in 2020.

 

Many of us became aware of it only as our various mechanics and repair specialists told us we would have to replace our systems, or flush them and replace them with different coolants.

 

In some cases, replacing the refrigerant is not an option.

 

 

What do I do with my old appliance that uses Freon?

 

The good news is, if your appliance is still in good working order, there is no need to make an expensive repair or purchase. The phase-out allows for these systems to be replaced over time.

 

The bad news is, at some point your system will stop being cold. Your repair person will tell you that they cannot purchase or recharge the Freon because it simply is not available.

 

(And if they offer you black market Freon, you need to know that it is a violation of federal law to purchase or use it. Say no.)

 

You will have to transition to a new coolant, or to a new system.

 

 

Transitioning to a new coolant

 

In the best case scenario, your existing appliance will be able to be upgraded with a new coolant. The properly trained technician can safely drain the old coolant and they will handle the disposal. This disposal might show up as an additional charge on your bill, but consider it just part of the cost of the transition.

 

This repair should be done by someone who can demonstrate but they were trained according to EPA Section 608. This is the law that regulates the US compliance with the Kyoto and Montreal protocols that created these phase-outs.

 

Now you know that the material will be safely disposed of.

 

A new coolant will be injected and your system should be back to normal in no time.

 

 

Disposing of an old appliance

 

In some cases they won’t be able to change coolant and you will have to dispose of your appliance. The same laws that phased out Freon also mean that you can’t simply put that item at the curb or in your Bid Daddy Dumpster.

 

You still have options.

 

First, you could purchase a new appliance. In most cases, the same store that sold you the new appliance will for a reasonable fee dispose of the old one. In most cases this is the simplest and most economical choice.

 

Second, you could research your local regulations for dealing with Freon and drop your item off. This might mean loading the appliance into your pick-up truck and taking it to a specialized location (perhaps one that is near or attached to your local dump.) This site will have its own protocol for proper disposal of the Freon and it will likely have additional uses for the remaining parts.

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