Discover Why the Chute Room Smells Disgusting… it’s physics!

Chute rooms and chute odours can be really strong. Luckily, there are two solutions for this.  The key questions are:  what odour eliminators are out there and why does it smell to begin with?

What can be done to remove garbage chute odours?

Illustration of untreated chute system

The air in the chutes passes over the garbage compactor and bins on its way up the chute (for a more detailed description of why, keep reading).

Illustration of air movement and smell in condos
Left untreated the odour wafts in the compactor, up the chutes, into chute rooms and then into hallways

Solution 1 for chute odours: Stop garbage from smelling

One solution for chute odour control is to stop odours at their source. After all, when the garbage has no odour, then no smells rise up the chute, into the chute room and down halls. Ideally, this solution should be eco friendly.  If the process is unscented, the air will be too. in addition, the chute door won’t smell when opened, and the halls won’t smell of either garbage or heavy scent.  This is the Unscented Odour Control option.

unscented garbage does not cause wafting odours
If the garbage does not smell, there will be no wafting odours

Solution 2 for chute odours: Treat the air with scented masking agents

In this scenario, perfume is pumped over the bins and up the chute. This allows the air to mix with perfume which covers up the smell. Also, scent blocks can be placed in the chute rooms. To be effective, the scent will need to be more powerful than what you might use in a scented candles or other home fragrances if you like them, but it is generally more effective than the no treatment option.

You can add scent to the air to mask bad odours
By adding scent to the air, the updraft still smells, but is quite well mixed with perfumes and less noticeable

What is the physics behind chutes and halls smelling of garbage?

Physics principles

This is a common due to how air circulates. The phenomenon is called the stack effect. 

The stack effect is caused by two laws of physics: The Bernoulli Principle, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. 

The Bernoulli Principle states that a fluid moving faster has less pressure than a similar fluid moving slower. 

The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that high pressure and low pressure systems move to balance out.

This is the explaination for chute odours: "the stack effect".

The air that hits you when you open the chute is caused by an updraft. This can smell bad.

Why? It exists because the outside air (considered a fluid in physics) at the top of the building has lower pressure than the air inside the chute because air inside the chute moves slower. 

The result is that to “balance” the pressure, air in the chute is pulled up, creating an updraft. 

The stack effect also means air flowing through the chute is pulled from the garbage room. If the garbage smells, the air will too.  As a door is opened a rush of air flows upwards,  enters the chute rooms and then moves outside the room into hallways. and yes, it carries all odours with it causing  them to smell too.

bad smell

Pro-Active Odor Control