Calculating Wet Debris Weight to Avoid Dumpster Overage Charges

Wet debris inside a dumpster

Updated January 19, 2023

When renting a dumpster, a certain amount of weight is included in the cost.

If you go over the included weight limit for your dumpster, you will be charged overage fees that can add up quickly.

That's why it’s important to reduce or eliminate rain or snow from entering the dumpster, as well as loading wet materials—a wet dumpster load weighs significantly more than a dry load of the same material.

Understanding the weight of a wet dumpster load can help reduce the risk of incurring overage charges when renting a dumpster.

In this guide, we discuss:

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Average Weight of Junk and Debris

General household junk is not heavy in general, nor is drywall or general wood debris, but when wet, they can become very heavy.

Understanding the average weight of common types of debris and junk is the first step to ensuring you don't get dumpster weight overage charges.

Weight of various debris and wastes

Water's Effect on Dumpster Weight

Water is heavy, and it can have a dramatic effect on the weight of contents within a dumpster relatively quickly.

For example, a quick rainstorm that comes through and drops an inch of precipitation can equate to more than 100 gallons of water in a 40 yard dumpster.

Based on information provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an inch of rainfall distributed evenly across the square footage of a typical 40-yard dumpster (22 ft L x 8 ft W) would equate to nearly 110 gallons of water.

Water weighs 8.345 pounds per gallon

How much does 110 gallons of water weigh?

Each gallon of water weighs approximately 8.345 pounds, which means 110 gallons of water weighs just under 918 pounds, or nearly half a ton.

This kind of weight can chip away at your included weight limit, increasing the chances of you going over and getting charged extra.

As you can see, one steady rainstorm could be the difference between meeting a dumpster’s weight limit and exceeding it.

Exceeding a dumpster's weight allowance can lead to overage fees averaging $50 to $100 per ton.

Porous materials, like drywall, wood, trash, and yard debris, soak up water more readily than nonporous materials, so take greater care to keep porous materials dry to ensure a lighter dumpster load.

Note: Some of the rain and moisture may drain out of the dumpster via drain holes and the door area, so this helps reduce the overall weight of the load but it does not eliminate the risk of going over your weight limit.

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How to Keep Debris Dry

Waste and debris tarped to prevent getting wet

There are several strategies that will work to keep a dumpster load dry in just about any weather.

Wait for Dry Weather

If possible, your best bet is to wait to rent the dumpster when the forecast is showing dry conditions.

However, if this isn't possible, make sure you are prepared.

Tarp It

If rain or snow is in the forecast, keep a large tarp on hand to place over the dumpster when not actively loading it. Some dumpster rental providers may be able to supply the tarp.

Make sure to secure the tarp with rope or bungees to avoid it blowing away or shifting and allowing collected rain to fall into the dumpster.

Do not allow debris piles to sit uncovered outdoors while waiting to be loaded into the dumpster.

As the materials become saturated, they can become much heavier, making it harder to load into the dumpster and increasing the total weight of the load.

Tarp or cover debris piles sitting outside to prevent this.

Position Your Dumpster Strategically

It may be possible to place a dumpster inside a garage, barn or underneath other types of shelters to help keep it out of the elements.

For larger dumpsters, this may not be possible, and some rental companies may not be able to accommodate this request due to equipment limitations.

Keep the Rental Period Short

Rather than allowing the dumpster to sit at your property for seven days (common rental period) or longer, rent a dumpster for a day or a few days to limit exposure to rain or snow.

In some cases, a shorter rental period may also provide a discount depending on the rental company’s policies.

Average Dumpster Overage Fees

Dumpster rental companies charge a fee for going over the dumpster's weight allowance.

Dumpster overage fees are generally around $50 to $100 per ton, though these fees can vary based on each company's policy.

Even if the weight of the load exceeds the weight allowance by just a few pounds, the dumpster rental company can charge you the fee for a full ton. This is why it’s so important to keep the weight of the load as light as possible.

Some dumpster rental companies have no weight limits, however there are limitations.

In this case, rental providers generally need to know the type of debris, and you must follow the rules regarding how high the load can go in the dumpster. You cannot load debris and wastes above the top of the container.

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