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Q: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: douglascarey-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 11 Apr 2005 07:19 PDT
Expires: 11 May 2005 07:19 PDT
Question ID: 507807
I live in an apartment about 40 yards from a busy street. At night I
periodically can feel the vibrations from buses and large trucks going
down that street along with hearing their loud engines. I've tried
reducing the noise by turning on a loud fan and even ear plugs, but
that does not drown out the loud booming sound of the engine and the
vibrations their engines cause. Is there a way to reduce the noise and
vibrations coming into my apartment without spending a fortune? I
already know about soundproofing the walls and hanging sound proofing
sheets, but that seems a little ridiculous and expensive. I am looking
for a way to help reduce this noise without resorting to sound
proofing sheets or more insulation in the walls.
Subject: Re: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 11 Apr 2005 14:48 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Hello, thank you for the question. The most inexpensive ways to reduce
traffic noise are to insulate your doors and windows (or replace
them), use rugs, mats, curtains or carpeting to absorb noise and plant
trees and/or shrubs near windows, etc. Some of these may not be viable
options for you, but I have listed the most feasible ones below. I
hope this helps.


Accoustical Curtains

Pyramids and Wedges


Soundproof Windows

"A Soundproof Window will reduce noise levels by 75-95%. Much better
than any replacement windows, SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS will act as a sound
barrier and eliminate your noise problem. More than 90% of all the
exterior noise comes in through your doors and windows - your walls
are almost never the problem.

Don't Replace Your Windows 
A Soundproof Window is a second window placed behind your existing
window that opens and closes just like your current one - there is no
need to remove or replace your window to eliminate noise problems!
Acoustically engineered to act as a sound barrier, Soundproof Windows
offer most of the benefits of dual paned replacement windows and
several benefits not available with replacement windows. Click here to
learn more about how Soundproof Windows work"

Interior Windows

Soundproof Sliding Glass Doors
"Use a Soundproof sliding glass door! We offer a door that does an
excellent job of stopping sound.

It is also a great solution to the typical cold and draftiness you
experience with regular sliding glass doors. We have a superb sliding
glass door solution - ask us for more details or see our page on
Soundproof Sliding Glass Doors for more information"



Soundproofing Doors






Accoustical Mats

Soundproofing Walls on a budget

"There are situations where you might not want to use furring strips
or add additional drywall.  For example, apartment dwellers might want
the benefits of sound reduction but may not want to invest too much of
their own money.  In that case, use vinyl barrier foam composite which
will provide the separation necessary for adequately blocking sound.
The treatment above for walls may also be used for ceilings to keep
sound out from the dear lady upstairs that stomps around her
apartment.  This can be attached to the walls with nails or staples...
which means you can even take it with you when you go!"


Expert Recommendations 

How to Soundproof an Apartment
Step-by-step guide to soundproofing your apartment, including the
walls, ceiling and floor.
By Jesse Barron, 6/5/2004

Condos Break Sound Barrier
Published: February 17, 2005

"In San Francisco, Charles Salter, an acoustical engineer, said his
firm was handling about four times as many projects involving sound
problems in residential developments as it did five years ago. He
regularly recommends that developers install laminated glass and extra
layers of gypsum board in the walls to insulate condos from outside

Ventilation without opening windows

"On noisy sites, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to
get fresh air into apartments without opening the windows. At 301
Mission Street in San Francisco, a 60-story condo tower rising next to
a bus terminal, a window wall will have two panes, one slightly
thicker than the conventional quarter-inch, with half an inch between
them to block the sound of buses. Special vents will bring in air
through tiny holes in the mullions that anchor the windows to the
building, said Glenn Rescalvo, one of its architects."


Additional Resources:

Lots of soundproofing options


Google Search Terms:
"soundproofing apartment"
"reducing traffic noise" apartment
"soundproofing windows"
"soundproofing doors"

Thanks again for the question. If you need any clarification of my
response, please request it and I will be happy to further assist you.

Anthony (adiloren-ga)

Request for Answer Clarification by douglascarey-ga on 13 Apr 2005 07:04 PDT
Here is my fear. The noise is most definitely from buses. If I
soundproof the windows, I am afraid it might not help the problem
because the noise might be vibrating through the walls. Is this common
or does most noise definitely come through windows? It feels like the
whole room is vibrating sometimes so it's hard for me to tell where
the noise is actually coming from.

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 14 Apr 2005 20:04 PDT
There is really nothing you can do about the vibration produced by the
busses. The mats and other absorption methods may help, but I doubt
they would do all that much. Securing the windows may help, as
vibrating windows can increase the effects of the general vibration
and street noise.
douglascarey-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars
Thanks for the website links, but it does seem like there is nothing I
can do for diesel buses, especially since I'm renting.

Subject: Re: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment
From: solomonsmind-ga on 11 Apr 2005 21:43 PDT
One suggestion I did not see above was MOVE. The reason your apartment
was open when you got there was the last guy could not stand it
either. Do not waste time and money on trying to sound proof. Just
move and pick you location based upon a higher standard.

May the Lord lead you, and you be wise enough to follow.
Subject: Re: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment
From: anechoic-ga on 13 Apr 2005 22:06 PDT
1. Planting a few trees or bushes will do *nothing* to reduce sound
levels. You need at least a 100-ft-thick patch of foliage to obtain
any meaningful noise reduction.

2. In response to your Request for Clarification, if the noise that
bothers you is the low-frequency sound from diesel buses, then most
simple noise reduction methods won't work. To reduce low-frequency
transmission through your wall, you'll have to drastically modify your
wall (staggered stud construction, with minimum 10-inch air gap, or
rebuild the wall out of concrete) and windows.

Under normal circumstances, poor single-pane windows and vents tend to
be the weak-link for noise transmissions, but for low-frequency waves
tend to travel easily though any sort of light materials, including
wood-framed walls and windows.

Pretty much all of the recommendations in the site won't
work for your situation.

If the bus noise is really bothering you, you should look into moving,
Subject: Re: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment
From: douglascarey-ga on 14 Apr 2005 06:42 PDT
Thanks to everybody that answered. anechoic-ga: I believe you are
exactly right. The low frequency noise from the diesel buses does come
through the walls. There is no easy solution except to move at this
Subject: Re: Reducing traffic noise in my apartment
From: vtan-ga on 14 Oct 2005 16:41 PDT
If you haven't moved yet I have a couple of easy and cheap ideas that
could attenuate some low frequency noise.  Restating your request -
you want to control some sound energy.  The energy of sound is
straight forward kinetic energy.  So what you want is to add mass
where that sound energy is applying itself AND use that mass to
convert that energy to something that you can't hear like heat.  So
the reason rugs, curtains, and the like don't work well is that they
don't have enough mass to convert enough energy and they are probably
not placed to intercept the sound.  Ideas 1 and 2 are about the floor.
 Idea 3 is for the wall.  Idea 4 is for your windows.  I don't know
how to do the ceiling cheaply.

Idea 1) This first idea is to help with sound energy from the floor. 
If you have high mass furniture like large sofas, bookcases full of
books, and heavy desks try moving some of those pieces closer to the
source of sound along the walls.  If you have a carpet or rug, lay
that down first then the furniture on top.  Some of the sound energy
moving through the floor and transfered through the wall will move
through the furniture and be dissipated as heat.

If you notice some sound dampening of the low frequency sounds but
want to try for more you can try step 2 which would be adding more
mass that would be even better at converting kinetic energy to heat. 
You need something with high mass, surface area, and friction.  Sound
snobs use fancy bass traps to remove unwanted bass echo.  Your
situation calls for a cheaper more brute brute force bass trap

Idea 2) Buy a large 25lb or 40lb bag of rice, another large 25lb or
40lb bag of beans.  Then buy a large bag of play sand (~$5 for a 50lb
bag).  Place a bag in each of the front corners of the room on the
floor leaning against the wall and another along the front wall.  You
have added mass to the floor along where it enters your apartment and
added mass to sections of the lower part of the wall.  You'll want to
hide these behind your furniture.  As the sound energy moves through
mass, some portion of the energy will be lost to friction as
individual grains of sand or rice or individual beans transfer energy
to others.  You could add more bags if you need it.  If you are
getting a good sound abatement then you can put the bags in decorative
containers.  If the sound reduction isn't happening for you, you could
still eat the beans and rice and only be out a bag of sand.  Sand is
maybe $5 for a bag, I'm not sure about rice and beans but maybe $10

Idea 3) Next the walls.  I think you can get a some of the performance
of traditional modifications relatively cheaply.  You'll have to
rearrange your furniture again.  First add mass to the walls that the
sound must pass through.  Get wall mounted shelving.  Metal is
probably better.  Put more books and other items on these shelves. 
The shelves and what is on them adds mass to the whole wall through
the studs, and the shelves act as added extensions to the wall that
will not uniformly resonate.  You can make or buy  yourself heavy
curtains.  If you add them, the curtains would help absorb more sound,
create a trapped airspace and could hide the wall shelves.  The
curtains can hang from the ceiling or add a clothes hanger extension
to the top of the wall shelves and use it as a curtain rod.  Next make
yourself a wall screen using any stand alone bookshelves you have,
tall pieces of heavy furniture or make a folding wallscreen (needs to
be something like plywood, padded with foam, and covered.  Arrange
these parallel to the curtained wall of shelves.  Place your other
heavy pieces closer to the corners.  I'm not sure how much wire
shelves would cost or curtains.  Lets say less than $150 for a modest
section of shelves and curtains.

Idea 4)  My cheap and impermanent solution for the windows is several
steps.  First caulk and seal around the window, then weather strip the
window $12.  Next you can add window film to the existing glass as an
option ~$40.  Next buy and apply an interior window insulation kit -
$15.  Caulking and sealing and film will add mass to the window and
help stop vibration.  Those interior shrink fit window insulation kits
forces sound to transfer from glass to the trapped air space, then
resonate through the plastic which will not have the same resonant
mass as the glass before getting to the inside space.

Good luck.  I hope this helps and works for you.  I had a lot of fun
McGyvering your situation.


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