Home Insulation & Noise Elimination

I’m sitting in the office of my townhouse, trying to concentrate on my work.  As I write this blog post, this is what I hear:
  • Children laughing and playing outside
  • Appliances buzzing around the house
  • Airplanes and cars flying and driving outside
  • Floors squeaking wherever my spouse is walking
  • Dishes clinking on the other side of the wall
  • Furnace “grumbling” in the basement

And a whole other ensemble of noises I can’t quite name.

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Do you think I can concentrate? Not reall..y…oh oh, there is an ambulance passing by. At least we didn’t buy a house facing the highway, I can’t even think what that would be like. What do all of these noises have in common? They all belong to either indoor or outdoor factors that we can’t control. Or can we? Let’s start our battle by defending ourselves against noise coming from the outside. Windows are the weakest link. If you have thin windows and you aren’t ready to replace them, you can simply cover them with heavy, thick drapes. This should reduce the noise, however this will not eliminate sounds completely. However, if you are thinking of replacing your windows, keep the following in mind: Windows are rated according to their Sound Transmission Class (STC). Windows are rated from 18 to 38 STC, . A higher number indicates better sound insulation. For example, a single-pane window may have STC rating of 22-25, while a dual-pane window can be rated between 27 and 32. There are windows with even higher STC rating that may reach the full 38 rating. So keep this in mind when you are planning to replace yours. Now that the outside noise is dealt with, let’s put a stop to the unintentional eavesdropping on our neighbours. This is particularly relevant to condominium and townhouse owners. In line with our heavy drapes trick, we can line the shared walls with furniture such as bookcases. However that may not be ideal. A better option is to add mass and insulation to the inside of your walls, which would make it more difficult for noise to pass through. Investment in sound proofing building materials and/or services will give “quiet” the results. Of course this option does mean a much more invasive renovation project. Now that I’ve barricaded myself from outside factors, I can happily continue to do my work right? Actually, I still need to silence the inside of my house. To the question: “how do I silence my house?” I once heard the reply “earplugs”. While that option does make for a good chuckle, let’s look at a more serious solution. Appliances. It seems as if there is nothing much that can be done against the refrigerator that is whirring from the kitchen, and other appliances around the house. The easiest solution is to buy quieter models and consult with manufacturers before buying. But before you rush into buying new appliances, there are some steps you can take to reduce the noise of those you already have. First of all, make sure that the cooling and ventilation areas of the appliance are not blocked or covered. This will not only reduce the noise of the appliance but will prolong its life as well. You can alsoplace vibration mounts under bigger appliances, and foam pads under smaller ones. These will reduce both the noise and the vibration of the appliance and depending on the type you choose, may prevent your washing machine from “dancing around” during the drying cycle, and may be one of the best purchases you ever make for your house! Surprisingly, it is easier to find a solution for squeaky floors than for noisy appliances. Of course you can put as many rugs on your floors as you could fit, but that will not silence your floors at the root. An extreme solution might be to replace the floors entirely, however if you only have few squeaky spots, floor replacement might be too troublesome, and there is no guarantee of silence. At Silent Floor Solutions we silence your floors in a clean and speedy manner that does not require ceiling/floor replacement, since we treat only the squeaky spots that bother you. Our fix consists of precisely locating the squeak and finding its cause and then strengthening the structure of the floor by applying our proprietary process. Once the fix is complete, you won’t be bothered by hearing every step your family takes around your house. Now that we successfully removed squeaks from our floors, we are ready to attack the furnace. However, this one is a tough opponent and we strongly recommend you get to know it closer before making your move. The furnace may make different sounds for different reasons and shutting the door on those noises might not be the safest idea. Some of the common reasons for a noisy furnace include: vibration (especially older furnaces), worn out fans or failing motors, unadjusted duct work that lets you hear the air moving through the ducts and registers, dirt build-up, and gas leaks (if furnace is powered by natural gas). Consult a professional or you furnace supplier to learn the reason for the sounds your furnace makes. Only then look for a solution that will not only eliminate the sound, but will eradicate the reason for it. Phew…this was a busy and noisy afternoon, but now that I hear the sound of quiet, I’m ready to declare peace.

Written by: Anna Berman