Squeaks, creaks, and screeches abound during this festive Halloween season. Although seemingly appropriate, the pounding footfall from your upstairs neighbors or whirling of voices streaming through the open air returns in your house or apartment may be causing quite a stir for you and your family.
Noise transmission is frequently a problem in large buildings or older homes, fortunately there are a number of ways to soundproof your home. Contrary to common belief, the addition of absorptive materials such as acoustical foam, fiberglass or additional drywall will do very little to reduce sound transmission; incorporating sheer mass, isolating materials, or using sound damping products are the best ways to stop these noises from intruding into your living space.
Common Problems and Solutions for Sound Transmission
Pipe and Duct Noise:
In older homes, ventilation and plumbing systems are sometimes a retrofit and may not have been installed with noise control in mind. They can vibrate and rattle, or the sound of airflow may be loud enough to be irritating. For the rattle or vibration, a damping compound is an easy solution. This product is applied to metal duct work with a brush or roller and dries stiff, which eliminates the material’s ability to produce sound when rattled. Check out this demo video using cymbals to see what we mean:
To stop the rushing sound of actual water or airflow, pipe and duct wrap and lag can be wrapped around the pipe or duct. These products use mass to block sound transmission. The AudioSeal® Duct & Pipe Wrap, pictured here, is an insulation composite material featuring a flexible one pound per square foot reinforced foil-faced loaded vinyl noise barrier bonded to a 1” thick quilted fiberglass sound absorber.
Besides blocking sound transmission out of the pipe or duct, it also provides sound absorption and thermal insulation around the pipe or ductwork. The reinforced foil-faced exterior serves as a protective jacket for indoor or outdoor applications.
Many homes experience sound transmission from outdoor noise, such as traffic or the neighbor’s dogs. The first step when trying to lessen this noise invasion, is to take a look at your windows. These are the weak points and tend to let in a majority of this sound, even when closed. Acoustical Window Seals are an easy way to add additional mass to a window, and also create a ‘dead space’ between the new and existing layer of glass. Both of these things will reduce noise coming in from outside. If the sound is transmitting through your walls as well, damping compound and additional drywall can be applied to the existing wall, with all seams sealed with acoustical caulk. This method can also be used on interior shared walls if you live in a duplex or apartment building and your landlord allows.
Footfall and Other Impact Noise:
Hardwood and tile floors transfer impact noise very easily. If you live below a unit with this type of flooring, you can probably hear a lot of footfall noise, scraping from moving furniture, or other impact noises. Floor underlayments installed under the aforementioned hardwood or tile would solve this problem, but in some cases isn’t an option. You can also soundproof your ceiling by creating a ‘floating ceiling’ with additional drywall, resilient isolation clips, and damping compound. If you have a drop tile ceiling, you can install sound blocking ceiling tiles, or cover existing tiles with PrivacyShield® Ceiling Barrier.
There are many different types of noise, and therefore many methods of reducing it. If you have any questions about these methods or products, or have a noise issue in your ‘haunted house’ that wasn’t mentioned, please call in and we’d be happy to speak with you about it!