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Excessive Noise Nuisance

Noise complaints have quadrupled in Scotland since new laws to deal with the problem came into force.  The following has been taken from the Scottish Government web site and may be of interest to our readers.

Loud stereos and televisions, shouting, barking dogs, rowdy parties and DIY are the main sources of complaints, according to Scottish Government figures.

It has been said

“Excessive noise can seriously affect people’s quality of life. This four-fold increase in complaints is an inevitable consequence of local authorities publicising their complaints service and thus increasing awareness. But nevertheless this shows the new legislation is working and that the public now have the chance to report problems and get a speedy response.

“Reassuringly, less than one per cent of complaints received require a fixed penalty notice. The rest are dealt with by a verbal or written warning, and confirm the quick deterrent system is effective.”

Figures presented at the Euronoise conference show that 40,000 domestic noise complaints were made in 2008, compared to about 10,000 a year prior to 2004 when new anti social behaviour domestic noise laws were introduced and councils and police set up and publicised 24/7 call centres to handle complaints.

The figures, from the Scottish Government Air, Noise and Nuisance Team, were presented at the eighth Euronoise conference held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and attended by 800 delegates from around the globe.

The European Acoustics Association asked the UK Institute of Acoustics to host this year’s event and Scotland was chosen in recognition of the work done by the Scottish Government and local authorities to implement the 2002 EC Environmental Noise Directive.

If you have a noise problem go to our web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk for information on how to control noise and details of our soundproofing materials or call us on 01993 704981

Noise through a party wall

Many people think that just applying a sheet of extra plasterboard to a party wall is all that is required to give a vast improvement to lowering the noise from their neighbours.  In reality there would be no noticeable improvement.  Noise from neighbours can take several forms and some which can only be addressed through action by the local authority because the noise they are making is loud and anti-social that cannot be silenced by adding soundproofing to the party wall.  Such anti-social noise would be music being played loudly so that it can be heard outside as well as your side of the party wall.  Or loud and raised voices, shouting and screaming, none of which can be controlled with the addition of sound insulation.  And finally, slamming doors.  With the exception of slamming doors, all of these noise problems can only be solved via action by the local authority.  Quiet closers can be fitted to doors so they close without slamming.

Also, noise at night, even if it is not loud will most likely always be heard when in bed at night and awake.  This is because the normal daytime background noises in your own home that mask other noises are usually switched off at night and it is in this quieter environment that you are more easily able to hear other noises not normally noticed.  Again, it is unlikely that noise at night can be totally silenced but the upside is, if the noise is the same every night, usually you will get used to it and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Back to noise through a party wall and how to address it.  In the daytime if it is normal noise such as normal levels of speech (talking) or music, television and radio being played at reasonable volumes, good results can usually be obtained by adding soundproofing to the wall which will reduce noise from coming directly through the wall.  However, walls with a chimney breast cannot be soundproofed as efficiently as walls without a chimney breast.

More short articles will be written about how to soundproof a home so keep a look out for them.  In the meantime, if you require any further information about how to soundproof your party wall go to soundproof a party wall.

This article is just an introduction to the types of noise experienced through party walls.  More about noise through walls will be published in the near future and also how to soundproof them in more detail.  There will be more articles on noise through party walls and how to address it to follow this one so look out for them.

Flanking noise through post war party walls

Previously I wrote about flanking noise around the party walls of pre-war houses so now I will talk about post-war houses.  These are normally built with a cavity in the external structural walls and it is this cavity that can allow the easy passage of noise around the party wall into adjoining homes.  We have already discussed how to address flanking noise through floors and ceiling

The problem with cavity walls is it is not only the cavity allowing the free passage of noise around the party wall but the internal masonry skin is often of low density blocks.  In the early days these would be known as “breeze” blocks but in more recent years they have been replaced with even lower density blocks called “Thermalite” blocks.  The Thermalite blocks are more efficient at allowing noise to be transmitted through them into adjoining rooms and are a particular problem with flats when flanking noise travels up and down through these blocks into flats above and below but the soundproofing of flats is an issue I will discuss in a later article.  The best way to soundproof these walls to reduce flanking noise transmission is to install a 50mm M20AD solution but can be expensive so should only be installed in extreme cases where the flanking noise is more of a nuisance.  If you still want to look at the M20AD solution to reduce flanking noise through a wall go to our web page via the following link M20AD To soundproof a wall.

And back to the cavities within the walls and the best way to treat these is to have blown mineral wool installed that will have the advantage of giving additional thermal insulation.  Other types of thermal insulation such as injected foam or polystyrene will not be as efficient at absorbing the noise and could actually compound the problem making the noise being heard even clearer.

More information on how to soundproof a party wall can be found on our web page via this link soundproof a party wall.

This article explains how flanking noise uses the cavities and lightweight masonry of walls to gain access.  More about how to soundproof a party wall will be published in the near future.  If you want to see how we can help soundproof a room or garage, go to our web site via this link.  Soundproof a garage.

For more information on soundproofing products for walls go to our web site or call us on 01993704981.

Acoustic Underlay for Airborne Noise Reduction

There is a common misconception concerning acoustic underlays and what is required of them.  Most people want an acoustic underlay to reduce airborne noise such as speech and music being heard through a floor.  So when they go to buy a new carpet, they also ask for a sound absorbing underlay from the carpet supplier.  The carpet supplier will then usually offer an underlay that has been acoustically tested and has a test result of say, 34dB that sounds fantastic.  But what the supplier and customer do not realise is that some underlays sourced from carpet suppliers have only been tested for impact noise reduction and the 34dB does not mean it will reduce noise through a floor by that amount.  What it really means is that it will only reduce impact noise such as footfalls and the lower the test figure, the more efficient the product is at reducing that type of noise.  Usually it will have no effect at all at reducing the airborne noise which is what the customer is really looking for.  To do that, heavy materials have to be installed.  Lead for instance, due to its high mass is an excellent sound blocking material but obviously impractical and far too expensive to fit onto a floor.  Instead, an acoustic underlay specially designed using mineral loaded sound barrier mat and sound absorbing foam with the foam sandwiched between two layers of the barrier mat will give the best results.  This product is used in place of the normal underlays talked about earlier and no additional underlay is required.  The product to look for is QuietFloor Plus which is marginally thicker than the best underlays at 15mm thick.  Because this product is heavy, it cannot be supplied in the usual rolls but in easy to handle panels 1200 x 600mm.  QuietFloor Plus will improve the sound insulation of most floors by an average of 5dB which is more than 50% of the original noise nuisance.  It is easy to install and is supplied with full installation instructions.  There is nothing better than QuietFloor Plus for use as an acoustic underlay that will reduce both impact noise and the more important airborne noise and can be so easily installed.  For more information on this product go to the product page on the domestic web site of Sound Service (Oxford) Ltd. via this link QuietFloor Plus or alternatively, give Sound Service a call on 01993 704981

Noise at Night Question and Answer

Question

Terraced house, guy next door very heavy on his feet even on carpeted flooring. Thumps about, bangs doors/cupboards etc. His living room & bedroom right next door to mine.

Answer

Noise at night is always more disturbing than in the day time. This is because your own and other outside ambient noise has stopped.  Bearing this in mind, achieving total soundproofing from neighbours at night is extremely difficult and in many cases not possible.  However, the following may help.

Invite your neighbour round for a cup of tea or something stronger and politely discuss with him the noise problems he is creating.  It is highly possible he is totally unaware of the noise he is making and once informed, will take more care in future.  He may also be prepared to install a better underlay for his carpets that will more efficiently absorb impact noise from his feet.  Changing the hinges on cupboard doors for slow closing ones will also help as will fitting slow door closers on doors.

If all this fails the only other recourse is to apply soundproofing to the bedroom party wall.  We offer a few choices as to what can be done but for best results you need to lose about 6 inches by installing an independent, soundproofed stud wall system about 1 inch away from the existing wall.  (Our Studio Wall System). This is assuming there is no chimney breast fitted.  If there is a chimney breast this will affect the overall results of any soundproofing being carried out unless the breast can be encapsulated using the chosen soundproofing system.

More information on the acoustic solutions we have for party walls can be viewed on our web site via the following link. 

Soundproof Walls

It will also be worthwhile reading our article on how to soundproof a wall via the next link

Articles giving soundproofing help

If the links do not work when clicked on, simply copy and paste each link  into the address bar of your browser to view the information on that page.

Alternatively, call us our sales dept. on 01993 704981

Noise through floor question and answer

Question

I am considering putting an acoustic plasterboard against a party wall of block. I could also drop acoustic rockwool between the joists to reduce noise penetration.

This room will house a grand piano and also a steel girder resting on this party wall. It occurred to me that I could sit the wheels of the piano on a sound insulating mat, and maybe place the ends of the girder not just on pad stones, but also resting on a similar mat.

Furthermore, it might be possible to lay some sort of thin membrane on top of the joists prior to laying the solid wooden tongue and grooved floor. 

Any thoughts of the efficacy of these ideas would be appreciated.

Answer

Thank you for your enquiry.  Adding Acoustic Plasterboard to a masonry wall will not improve the sound insulation by any degree that would be appreciated by the ear.  At the very least you will need to lose about 2 inches (50mm) by installing our M20AD wall soundproofing solution.  For best results an independent stud wall should be installed clad with 30mm of Acoustic Plasterboard and infilled with AMW type Acoustic Mineral Wool.

With regard to isolating the piano from the floor along with the steel girder, you could use our 10mm Anti-Vibration mat available in 1m x 1m sheets.  For best results, the AV Mat could be used to make a floating platform utilising one layer of AV Mat with a tongued and grooved floor glued on top on which the piano would sit.

100mm of AMW100 Acoustic Mineral Wool would also help as a loose fit between the joists but it must be realised, that to get the best results with upgrading the sound insulation of any floor, AMW should be used along with additional sound insulation such as installing a floating floor using R10, our resilient insulation on top of the existing floor with our 18mm tongued and grooved high density QuietBoard acoustic flooring on top.  If access is possible to the ceiling below, then this could be acoustically upgraded and the combination of upgrading both the floor and the ceiling along with AMW between the joists will give you the best results.

More information on Anti-Vibration Mats along with our floating floor system  can be viewed on our web site via the following links. 

Anti-Vibration Mat    –           https://www.keepitquiet.co.uk/vibration_pad.html

Floating Floors         –           https://www.keepitquiet.co.uk/floating-floor-system.html

Current prices for all of our noise control products are also on our web site or call us on 01993704981 for more information

More on noise through a party wall

As I have mentioned before, noise though party walls takes different forms and those which are loud are anti-social noise that can only be addressed by outside authorities.  From now on we will talk about normal levels of noise such as talking that should not be heard during the daytime.  Assuming it is normal levels of noise that have to be addressed we have to also think about flanking noise.  Now flanking noise is noise that skirts around the party wall via the hollow sections beneath floorboards and also above the ceiling.  With pre-war buildings these are usually the only areas that can be treated to reduce flanking noise transmission because there are no cavities in the structural walls that would otherwise allow the free transmission of noise.  Chimney breasts and internal attached walls are other areas that can allow flanking noise but are usually impractical to effectively soundproof.

Firstly we will deal with pre-war houses and flats that usually have solid structural walls that do not require additional treatment.  This means the floor and ceiling and these should be treated before doing anything with the party wall to reduce flanking noise in those areas.  With the floor it will be necessary to lift the floorboards closest to the party wall and insert between the joists immediately adjacent to the wall Acoustic Mineral Wool.  If the joists are supported by the party wall then install enough to cover 1200mm from the wall and along the space between the joists.  If, on the other hand, the joists are parallel to the wall, then simply insert the acoustic mineral wool in the space between the first two set of joists then replace the floorboards and screw them down.  Once refitted, overlay with 2mm of SBM5 soundproofing mat that will seal up the joints of the floorboards.

The same infill treatment using acoustic mineral wool should be carried out on the ceiling but if it is a top floor bedroom ceiling there may already be thermal insulation in between the joists and it is not wise to remove it.  The ceiling itself can be upgraded with an additional layer of 15mm high density acoustic plasterboard that will add mass and therefore improve the sound blocking performance of the ceiling.  Now the floor and ceiling have been acoustically treated we can look at what can be done to soundproof the party wall and I will cover this in my next article.  In the meantime if you require any further information on how to soundproof a party wall go to our web page via this link soundproof a party wall.

This article is just an introduction to flanking  noise that can skirt round  party walls.  More about how to soundproof a party wall will be published in the near future.  If you want to see more about how we can help soundproof a home go to our web site via this link. Soundproof a home.   Or call us on 01993 704981

Soundproofing a floor to Part E Standard #3

A previous Blog was an introduction to floor soundproofing and mainly talked about flanking noise and how to deal with it.  That Blog also referred to upgrading the soundproofing of a separating floor in flats to comply with the Building Regulations for the control of noise through floors.  These regulations are contained within a document called Part E Resistance to the Passage of Sound.  For a lot of new build and change of use when a building has been converted into flats, the floors have to be tested to prove compliance.  But in the case of upgrading an existing separating floor no testing is required.  This is because there is no legal obligation to bring an existing floor within a flat to comply with current regulations for noise control.  Having said that there are still many flat owners that would like to upgrade their floors and if they have the co-operation of their neighbour beneath, then it should be possible to upgrade to a good level of soundproofing.

First off, if there is a lathe and plaster ceiling attached to the ceiling below whatever you do not remove it!  Lathe and plaster ceilings are better than the plasterboard replacements often used instead.  What should be done is simply screw up another layer of 15mm high density Acoustic Plasterboard that will add mass and secure the plaster from detaching from the lathes as sometimes happens when it has been up there for a long time.

If it is simply a plasterboard ceiling then this can be removed and replaced with 30mm (2 x 15mm) of Acoustic Plasterboard decoupled from the underside of the joists with 15mm deep Resilient Bars.  Inset ceiling lights should be avoided because these will let noise through just as easily as leaving a hole in the ceiling.  All lighting should be surface mounted with holes for wiring sealed with Acoustic Sealant.  More information our Resilient Bar system including installation instructions can be viewed on our web site.  This work on the ceiling is all that is required from below.  The rest of the soundproofing can now be installed from above.  For flat owners that do not have the co-operation of neighbours above, carrying out the work just described will reduce noise through the floor from above and if you can also install 100mm of Acoustic Mineral Wool (AMW100) as a loose fit to sit on top of the Resilient Bars, it will be difficult to improve on the soundproofing carried out from below.

Now we can go to the work that can be carried out from above and the same applies here.  If you do not have the co-operation of the neighbour beneath, the following soundproofing work will be the best you can achieve and certainly worthwhile.

First of all remove the skirting boards and lift the floorboards to expose the joists beneath then insert as a loose fit 100mm of AMW100 Acoustic Mineral Wool that is a Rockwool type product but produced to s specific density to give maximum sound absorption.  Now if the floorboards are in good condition, refit them with screws strategically placed so the boards don’t squeak when walked on.  Ensure that any gaps around the perimeter of the floor are sealed with Acoustic Sealant.  If the floorboards are not fit for re-use, replace them with 18mm QuietBoard, a high density tongued and grooved acoustic floorboard.  Once the floor is laid and sealed, overlay with 2mm of SBM5 Soundproofing Mat loose laid wall to wall with the joints tight together.  Once that s down then overlay with 10mm of R10, a recycled rubber resilient insulation for supporting a floating floor.  This has to be laid across the entire floor with the joints tightly butted.  Once this is down, a floating floor of QuietBoard can be laid on top but this time with a 5mm gap around the edges that can be sealed with Acoustic Sealant.  All that now remains is to refit the skirting boards so as to be just clear of the floating floor.  About 1mm is sufficient and this gap does not require sealing.

That’s it.  Job done and now you can get on with fitting the floor covering and for best results, make it carpet on top of a felt underlay.

All of the above soundproofing can be carried out as a DIY exercise by anyone used to handling small tools and full installation instructions to soundproof a floor can be viewed on our web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk

Soundproofing Floors #2

Our last article was an introduction into noise through floors and ceilings and how to reduce the noise nuisance.  This article follows on from that and will now talk about flanking noise that is noise that skirts around the floors and ceilings and can reduce the effectiveness of any noise control measures that may have been taken or about to be started.

Flanking noise is noise that can travel through other parts of the building and is usually through lightweight walls such as breeze or Thernalite type walls that form the inner skin of structural cavity walls.  These walls are more common post war and more recently, breeze block walls have been superseded by the even lighter Thermalite type blocks.  Although breeze or clinker blocks allow flanking noise through them, the Thermalite type blocks are even lighter and will allow flanking noise an easier route through.  Installing blown mineral wool into the cavity will help reduce this noise problem otherwise, the cavity walls will have to be treated from inside the room and the best way to treat these is to apply either our 50mm Thin Wall soundproofing solution or the even thinner QuietPanel system at only 27.5mm thick.

So if the property is of pre-war construction, it is likely that you will achieve a greater degree of soundproofing due to flanking noise being less likely to be an issue.

Our next article will concentrate on bringing a separating floor up to the minimum requirements for noise control.

Noise Control through Floors

This article is going to be the start of a regular series where we discuss noise through floors and ceilings and solutions that can be adopted.

Many flats were constructed in the days before noise control formed part of the Building Regulations and in many cases were the subject of a change of use.  This is when large houses and other buildings have been turned into flats for multi-occupation.  It is this type of property, usually with timber suspended floors that often suffer from noise created by neighbours below and above.  Noise from neighbours through floors and ceilings is not only disturbing but can also be injurious to health as is often discussed in media these days.

If you have the co-operation of your neighbours and are prepared to put up with the disruption of removing floors and ceilings, separating floors can be upgraded to comply with the current Building Regulations for the control of  noise from neighbours.  On the other hand, if you can only treat the problem from your side of the divide, that is possible too but of course, will not reach the same degree of soundproofing but will still be beneficial at reducing the noise nuisance.

Although we will discuss solutions to reduce noise nuisance from affecting you, it must be realised that noise at night will almost certainly be heard, no matter how much attention paid to installing noise control measures.  Introducing properly installed noise control measures should reduce any noise being heard to much more acceptable levels and if the noise at night is constant, usually within a short space of time the body gets used to it and will no longer disturb sleep.  People living next to busy roads for instance nearly always go straight to sleep.  It is when they move from a quiet environment to a noisier one sleep problems will be encountered because they are not used to it.  The trick is not to let it bother you, just relax and you will be surprised at how quickly you will become used to the noise.

Loud noise will always be heard such as shouting or music being played at high volumes.  This is anti-social behaviour and if having a quiet word with the neighbours does not resolve the problem then you have to refer the matter to the local authority who have the powers to deal with the problem but this should be your last resort.  It is always better to negotiate rather than confrontate  (new word just invented because it rhymes).  When presented with the problem of excessive noise from neighbours, rather than go pounding on their door and having an angry confrontation (correct spelling) with them, instead, politely ask them back to your place for a drink so that you can discus the problem and possible solutions.  In many cases, neighbours may be unaware and mortified they are disturbing others and will take steps to address the problem.  That way you will remain friends with the neighbours which is something to be valued.  Friendly neighbours are like gold dust and should be cherished.

Look out for our next article when we will discuss bringing an existing separating floor into compliance with the Building Regulations for the control of noise.

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