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How do Dumpster Rentals Work?

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Whether you are doing a home renovation project or cleaning out a house, there is a good chance that you will need to rent a dumpster. Dumpsters are a necessary component to the clean up process as most people don't have the means to haul away construction debris quickly or have the time to make multiple trips to a garbage disposal center. When looking for a dumpster rental, you first need to know how the dumpster rental process works, what is available, and how to make the process go as smooth as possible.

Dumpster rental companies are located all around the country and they work under the regulations and policies mandated through federal, state, and local officials. When renting a dumpster, there are certain items that are banned from being included, as well as items that require a sur-charge. Rentals are gauged by cubic yards and weight. While there are many factors to take into consideration, the process is pretty straight forward and can be explained by the customer service representative at the rental company you utilize.

Renting a Dumpster

When you rent a dumpster, you want to make sure that you get the correct dumpster size. The one mistake you want to avoid is getting a dumpster that is too small for your project. Since dumpster are based on cubic yards, it is important that you rent a dumpster that will sufficiently fit all of your rubbish. If the dumpster is too full, you will likely need to have it emptied and replaced which is essentially the same as renting a dumpster twice. Instead, rent a dumpster that can hold all of the materials you need to dispose of, even if it means that you don't fill it to the top. You are better having extra room than not enough.

How Much Room is Needed for a Dumpster Delivery?

10 yard dumpsters and over are delivered on a roll-off truck and need at least 16 feet of height clearance to slide the dumpster off. They also need enough side and width clearance for maneuvering. While drivers can typically get the dumper in a designated drop area, they do need space to work.

Also keep in mind that you need room for the swinging door to open. Placing the dumpster against a building is typically fine, as long as the swing door is not abutting the structure. Be sure that the delivery driver from the rental company knows where you want the dumpster delivered and which side you want to swing door to be on. They can load the dumpster onto the delivery truck so that they can slide it off and have the door on the correct side. This is especially important if they will be working in a tight area. If you do not communicate these needs and it gets delivered backwards from how you need it, you may have to throw everything up over the sides . This can lead to an unwanted injury. Preplanning your dumpster rental is always best practice.

If there is not enough space on your property or in your driveway to leave a dumpster, you may need it be delivered on the street. However, some municipalities require a permit if the dumpster will be in the road or on the side of the road. You can call as the dumpster service directly to see if they know if permits are required in your town or call your local town hall to find out if a permit is required. Doing this ahead of time can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.

What Size Dumpster Do I Need?

Most dumpsters range in size from 10 yard to 30 yard. There are rentals available from some refuge places, that go as low as 6 yard and up to 40 yard. However, the standard cubic yards are 10 yard, 15 yard, 20 yard, or 30 yard.

One way to determine the size of dumpster you require it to try to estimate how many pickup trucks it would take to haul away what you are throwing out. A typical truck bed can handle approximately four cubic yards. If you are eyeballing about four truckloads, you will want to get a 15 yard or 20 yard dumpster. This way you are not getting a dumpster too small, and if you have room when you are done, there may be other things in your house you want to get rid of while you have access to a dumpster.

How Much Can You Fit in a 10 Yard Dumpster?

A typical 10 yard dumpster can hold approximately 2.5 pickup trucks worth of debris. This size dumpster is ideal for shed cleanouts, installing new windows in an average size home, or small room and basement cleanouts.

Keep in mind that 10 yard dumpsters, and larger, have swing doors that opens at the back of the dumpster, allowing you to walk into the container. The door must latch closed in order to picked up and remove from your property. Garbage also cannot be pouring up over the top; it cannot be higher then the lip of the dumpster. If it is too full, you will need to rent another dumpster. This is not a mistake you want to make. You need to make sure that you can latch it closed, without anything falling out, and that the contents does not go over the top.

If the dumpster rental company has weight limits, be mindful of this prior to finalizing your dumpster rental. While it is much easier to determine cubic yards, rather than weight, this is information you will want to have prior to signing any contracts. So, be sure to ask what the weight restrictions are and how much it will cost if you go over. Unless you are throwing away several cubic yards of cinder blocks or concrete, you are typically going to be under weight. However, it's still best to ask the customer service agent.

How Much Can You Fit in a 20 Yard Dumpster?

A 20 cubic yard dumpster can hold approximately five truck loads of debris and won't require emptying for most standard home projects. Again, be mindful of what you are throwing out and if there are weight restrictions.

A 20 yard dumpster is ideal for roofing materials, basement cleanouts, small house cleanouts, or home renovation projects. If you have a large house to clean out, you may want to opt for a 30 or 40 yard dumpster.

Get Several Quotes Before Renting Your Dumpster

Before finalizing your dumpster rental order, call around and get a few quotes from different companies. While they will all most likely have the same material restrictions, there could be significant differences in:

  • Dumpster rental rates
  • The amount of time that you can keep the dumpster for without additional fees
  • Any surcharges
  • Fees for additional waste, such as mattresses
  • Delivery fees
  • Dumping fees (some company allow for one free dumpster dump-out in their fees. This can be be important information)


Call each dumpster rental company and ask them what their rates are and what dumpster sizes they have available. Different companies offer discount rates from time to time, as well. Check to see if there are any discounts available for their dumpster rental service.

How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Dumpster?

Rental rates vary significantly across the United States. If there are a lot of dumpster rental companies in your area, the odds are that rates will be competitive for the delivery and removal service. However, if you live in a fair desolate area, dumpster rates can be high, based on demand and the travel required to dump the container once its removed from your property.

On average, it costs between $300-500 to rent a 20 yard dumpster and a broad range of $200 to $800, depending on dumpster sizes and overall demand.

How Long is an Average Dumpster Rental Period?

Most companies allow dumpsters to be rented for one-week periods of time. However, if you are unsure if you can finish your project in less than week, ask if there are additional fees for more time. Many dumpster service providers will allow you to keep the dumpster for an additional week, at no charge or a minimal add-on fee.


Dumpster rentals are still a highly sought after service since most people do not have the time or equipment to remove large quantities of debris themselves. Before renting a dumpster, be sure that you know the size dumpster you need for your project, what materials can be disposed of, and how long you are able to rent the dumpster. The best advice is to get a dumpster that is slightly larger than you actually need. This way you won't overfill your dumpster. If you find that you have a lot of extra room, you can tackle another project that you have been putting off or ask your neighbors if they have any items they want to toss while the dumpster is on your property. Just make sure that you follow your rental agreement guidelines.

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