Many ways to clean up your house and your DIY project

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Sep. 13, 2012
- Contributed Photo

The topics in this column repeatedly focus on renovating, building, repairing and replacing things in your home, every one of which generates some amount of refuse, rubble, junk, scraps - call it whatever you like.

So if your to-do list includes cleaning out your garage, basement or attic, expect to have plenty of rubble that will have to go somewhere other than back in your garage, basement or attic. The thought of having to get rid of that mass of superfluous stuff may be motivation enough not to begin the project at all.

You could just call your local DPW to come take it all away. That's quick and easy. But as you work on that solution, you learn that the DPW folks don’t take mounds of rubble away just because you are a good tax-paying citizen. There is usually a pickup charge and a weight-based disposal fee. The alternative to calling DPW is hauling it all off to the dump or 'transfer station' yourself, and they will charge you, too.

If a wholesale elimination of your renovation refuse is what would please you most, you might need to spring for a small dumpster, which the provider will come and cart away -for a fee, of course. Another solution that is fairly new on the scene is the Bagster® alternative. This is a flexible dumpster-like container that holds three cubic yards with up to 3,300 pounds of material. You buy the Bagster® at a local home store or hardware store, fill it up with household junk or construction debris and schedule a pickup. There are restrictions: electronics, yard waste and tires are not allowed. You will still have to find a disposal method for such items. You don't have to pay too much for the Bagster® ($29.95), but you will have to pay a fee to have it picked up and disposed of. That fee varies, but in north central Connecticut I was quoted $164.

The ubiquitous 1-800-GotJunk signs offer a similar solution, with a twist. This franchise company will determine the scope of your rubble removal needs, and quote a fee to remove it. The uniformed service personnel will deal with a wide array of used commodities, including appliances, electronics, trash and more. One added benefit is that their people will not only load and haul away the leftovers, they will clean up after themselves.

If you are averse to what could be costly bulk removal solutions, there are some others to consider. They might not bring you rapid removal, but they might also not charge you a fee to get the job done. Depending on your accumulated commodities, you might actually be able to convert some of the trash into treasure.

Recycling yards are interesting possibilities. The wall of that now-defunct above-ground pool could go right to the scrap yard. They don't pay a lot for scrap steel, but if you can collect an assortment of other metal items, the trip might be worthwhile.

If you have a fair amount of framing lumber left after renovation, shredding the wood for use as mulch might be useful on your own property or attractive to a neighbor with such a need. This involves a little work to remove hardware and nails, as well as the cost to rent a shredder through which to process the scrap wood.

Broken-up concrete, stone and brick qualifies as “clean fill.” Some property owners occasionally have a need for such rubble.

Every so often the state resource recovery department organizes recycling days through town public works programs. They usually collect electronic products - TVs, computers, stereo equipment and such, and sometimes they offer a parallel paper-shredding service.

Some of the more interesting ways I have found to offload unwanted commodities have been through Internet outlets, such as Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle. I discovered a few boxes of old Commodore computers that I sold to multiple eBay-ers in Italy. A friend of mine liquidates items donated to his church using multiple Internet outlets. These items - lighting, music equipment, game tables - were once clutter in someone's garage, basement or attic.

Don't overlook newspapers (like the ReminderNews) and their classified and neighbor-to-neighbor sections. Sometimes what is no longer useful to you might be exactly what someone else needs.

The curb is still one of my favorite outlets. Clean up what you want to dispose of, display it at the curb, with an attractive signs that says, "It Works" and is "Free."

Have patience and have a little fun while you are doing it. See how much you can get rid of in creative ways. Take satisfaction from having helped someone in need or maybe even having raised some charitable funds.

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