Here we present acoustical information gleaned from the EPA’s book, Quieting: A Practical Guide to Noise Control”. ($9.50 PP) More info on this book.

We have slightly updated the noise control solutions to reflect more current thinking and to point to more modern sound proofing materials than were available then when the book was first printed.

We’ve added even more information taken from actual case histories found in Noise Control FAQ’s and our sound proofing discussion group (The “FORUM”)  situations as well.

Complaint Probable Causes Remedies
A. “This room is noisy” Noisy appliances, ventilation system Reduce noise output of source: install vibration mounts; isolate source in sound insulating enclosure. Ventilation noise: reduce blower speed; install acoustic lining and flexible connectors in ducts.
Room is excessively reverberant; if the sound of a person’s handclap persists longer than a second, the room requires acoustic treatment. Install sound absorbing materials, e.g., carpets and pads, drapery, upholstered furniture, acoustical wall padding, ceiling. Total surface area of absorbent material should be at least one-fourth of total room surface area.
Outdoor noise intrusion Install window “plugs”. Install gaskets around existing windows and doors; install storm windows and doors, replace hollow core or paneled entrance doors with solid core doors.
B. “It is difficult to concentrate” If conversation at an ordinary distance of 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) is difficult, the ambient noise level is too high [greater than 70 dB(A)]. Excessive noise may be due to causes described above. If the remedies outlined above do not alleviate the sound control problem, install barriers and/or a prefabricated, sound-insulated booth or field office enclosure.
C. “It’s stuffy and oppressive in here” If there is adequate ventilation, the room may be acoustically “dead.” There is too much absorption, i.e., excessive drapery, rugs and pads and upholstered furniture. Remove at least 50% of all sound absorbent material such as drapery, thick carpet and padding; or replace existing furnishings with lighter-weight material. Large glass framed pictures may prove effective.
D. “You can hear voices, but they are unintelligible” The sound transmission through a partition or ductwork, and ventilation noise in the mid-frequency range. Caulk or seal all visible cracks at ceiling and floor edges of party wall. Remove cover plates of all electrical outlets in party walls to check for back-to-back installation; in such cases pack cavities with foam mat or jute fiber wadding and seal with a resilient caulk. If additional sound attenuation is required, acoustical modification of the party wall may be necessary (see text).
E. “I hear whistling noise” High-pitched sound usually is generated by ventilators and grilles; worn or defective washers, and valve seals in plumbing, heating and refrigerant systems. High-velocity gas flow through furnace burner jets or nozzles causes similar noises. Set dampers at most quiet setting; place ear at grille, if noise is louder, remove grille. If noise vanishes with grille removed, reduce blower speed or install new grille with larger and more streamlined openings and deflectors. Reduce pressure in plumbing system and isolate pipes and valves from supporting wall and floor structures with resilient sleeves or collars. Replace worn or defective faucet washers or valve seals. Wrap pipes.
F. “I hear my neighbor’s TV and stereo”. Acoustically-weak partition wall due to inadequate construction, noise leakage through cracks at floor and ceiling edges or through back-to-back electrical outlets. Neighbor’s TV set may be too close to party wall. Use same methods as in D above. Suggest that neighbor place resilient pads under and blocking mat behind his TV and stereo sets and relocate them away from the party wall.
G. “Footstep noises from the apartment above annoy me”. Rigid, light-frame construction of floor assembly, solid concrete floor slab covered with tile; lack of carpeting and padding. Suggest that carpet and padding be installed on the floor above. If additional footstep isolation is desired, test both ceiling and the walls in your room with a stethoscope to determine which is radiating most noise. If noise radiation from ceiling is greater, install a gypsum board ceiling mounted on resilient hangers, place foam mat blanket in void between ceilings. In some cases, wall paneling w/foam backing mounted on resilient furring members may be required in addition.


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