The page you are reading now is limited to the unit in the sink of a flat. To learn about the estate-wide Garchey refuse disposal system click here.

If your flat is original, the Garchey is a mechanism in the original double sink unit in the kitchen into which you are meant to put your wet rubbish – vegetable peelings etc. – and items like cans and bottles. If you look under your sink, you’ll see a bulb-like container. This is where the rubbish gathers until you flush the system. A Garchey Refuse Disposal Unit was originally installed in each kitchen sink.

Pipes run from the roof to the basement of each building throughout the estate. Each pipe has a number of Garcheys connected into it. The rubbish is washed through this pipe-work to a central chamber. A tanker empties it every few weeks.

If there is nothing like this in your kitchen sink, it is because a former owner has had the Garchey unit removed. As long as it was done by an approved operative – approved by the Barbican Estate Office – it should have been done properly. But if you have problems, ask the Barbican Estate Office to send someone to check it for you.

Smells and worse

The Garchey can smell. (I am a master of understatement.) But after all, it is for disposing of rubbish. It’s just like a toilet – if you don’t flush it or clean it, it smells. If you or a predecessor have had the Garchey removed, what remains of the system may still smell occasionally. This is the result of water getting sucked out of the U-tube which protects your airspace from the air in the building-wide Garchey system. The Barbican Estate Office can solve that for you by installing a ‘device’. (I am not technical.) It happened to me many years ago. I had the ‘device’ installed and I have had no problems whatsoever ever since.

Capped-off Garchey units

Many Garchey units have been removed. If your Garchey has been removed, it should have been capped off properly. This does not mean sealed off – that would lead to blow-backs further down the building. The capping-off leaves a one inch diameter pipe opening to the Garchey system beyond your sink’s U-bend.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some gases build up in the building’s Garchey system. (If you think of the result of eating a tin of baked beans and then apply that to a 6 to 43 storey building, you’ll get the idea.) So, if pressure builds up in the system, gases can bubble back through the water in the U-bend and leave an unpleasant smell. There’s nothing wrong with your system – you just need to run the tap at least once a day to keep fresh water in the U-bend.

Recovering valuables

If you put something valuable into the Garchey by mistake, it’s lost for good once the unit has been flushed. But if you notify the Estate Office before the sink is flushed, they may be able to retrieve it.

Maintenance responsibility

Even though you own your flat, the Corporation is still responsible for the existing Garchey pipe work.

Empty flat

If you still have a Garchey unit and the flat is going to be empty for a while, it’s recommended that you insert the Garchey key (which is provided for dismantling the unit) into the slot of the tube, (but do not turn it). This should reduce the risk of flooding if there’s a blockage somewhere else in the system.

Consent to remove your Garchey

You should get formal consent from the Barbican Estate Office to remove the Garchey. (See also pages on alterations). They will require you to agree that your service charge will remain the same – we all pay for the estate-wide system whether we use it or not.

The Barbican Estate Office would be grateful to receive the system when it’s removed because they can use it for spares. There are recommended removers – don’t take chances with someone not specifically recommended by the Barbican Estate Office.

Hours of use

According to the lease regulations, you are not meant to use the Garchey between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am to prevent your neighbours’ TVs being drowned out by the fearful din.