Noise levels are on the rise. How they are perceived and how they affect us varies, but noise pollution is associated with health hazards (see For more information about the health hazards of noise see: http://www.who.int/docstore/peh/noise/Comnoise-1.pdf)
and it can be just plain aggravating. I get more and more requests for homes that are in quiet places, but they are getting harder to come by.
It is difficult to control outside sources of noise. Fortunately, there are some ways we can decrease noise levels, at least in our own home.
Some of these methods are the same things that increase the energy efficiency of our houses since air is what carries sound. Good sound transmission control decreases gaps, adds mass and isolates sources of noise. Most of these steps are easy and very inexpensive, but increase in difficulty and cost as we go down the list. If you would like more information, or the names of pros that do this kind of work, let me know.
1) Seal up holes and cracks. Caulk around every edge of every door and window. Use
putty or expanding foam around holes where plumbing and wiring enter the floor,
walls and ceilings, inside and out. Follow directions for these materials carefully.
2) Take the covers off electrical outlets and switches on outside walls. Without
touching anything inside the electrical boxes, putty or foam any gaps around the
box and use foam insulating pads (available at home centers) between the box
and the cover. Reinstall the covers.
3) Install solid doors rather than foam core or those with glass inserts.
4) Use weather stripping that fits snugly and closes all gaps.
5) Use extra dense, thick carpet pads under carpet and rugs.
6) Install high-quality storm windows and storm doors with thick glass, heavy frames
and good weather stripping. Yes, this will help both noise and your energy bills even
though you have newer double paned windows. Thick, heavy drapes that overlap
the frames of the windows, touch the walls and close with no gaps will help,
although they are not very popular dÃ©cor-wise these days.
7) Add caps to chimneys.
8) Increase insulation in walls, ceilings and floors. Make sure batts have no gaps
between them and the adjacent framing, surfaces, electrical outlets, etc. If using
blown-in insulation, cover everything well, but leave space around light fixtures that
need air flow to prevent over-heating. Insulation is not the best soundproofing as it
is low in mass, but it does help some and is energy efficient. Special sound-
dampening materials are available, but they can get pricey.
9) Add a layer of sheet rock to the existing wall, preferably with resilient channels
in between the layers. Outlets and trim will have to be moved out as well. This isn't
as difficult as it seems. Even more effective is to literally build a second wall,
isolating it one inch away from the existing wall and building it with insulation
sandwiched between two drywall sheets.
These same measures, and others, can be used between rooms to slow down noise from within the house as well. A baby's room might be created as a "quiet room" or a music room isolated to give everyone else peace.