When someone talks about soundproofing his home, he doesn’t mean turning it into a completely silent area. A small amount of ambient noise, such as birds chirping or wind chimes tinkling, can be a pleasant diversion. The problem happens when you have a small lot with very close neighbors. If you don’t block out as much outside sound as possible, you’ll end up hearing your neighbor’s Halo game, punk rock albums, or angry private arguments. Loud noises behave like water; they sneak in wherever they find a leak. Finding these leaks and blocking them is a great first step toward enjoying a quiet afternoon, no matter how close your neighbor’s living room might be.
It’s a very unpleasant surprise when you hire a contractor to install new insulated windows, then find out your home interior is noisier than when you had the old glass. The reason for this is that the installer didn’t do a good job of sealing the space around the windows. If he installed a new window into an old frame, there may be a small air gap that’s large enough to let in noise. If the sound is bad enough, consider replacing the frames, or try adding a new layer of weatherstripping or caulking around each window.
Soundproofing your home may not require redoing all the windows in the house. Overly loud noise can be sneaking in through such small spots as electrical outlets and plumbing intakes. You can block off most of the sound from your outlets by cutting a piece of foam to fit, then removing the face plate and gluing the foam to the inside surface. Instead of sound being amplified by a metal plate, it will be blocked by the inexpensive foam.
The area in your walls where plumbing pipes enter the home can also be access spots for your neighbor’s noise. Have a plumber add insulation to the pipe, especially to the spot where it enters your house, as well as the wall itself. That small spot where the pipe connects through your basement wall might just be the culprit that allows your neighbor’s lawnmower to bother you every Saturday morning.
A Serious Solution
Short of tearing out your walls to add sound-deadening insulation, the most serious change you can make is to put up a sound barrier in your yard between your home and the noisy neighbor. Add either a redwood fence or a cement block wall, and make sure there is no line of sight between your home and the source of the noise. If the sound is coming from lawnmowers and living room video games, this plan will work. If the neighbor’s teenage son plays his bass at midnight on the second floor, you’re out of luck. At that point, it’s best to just talk with your neighbor to get the kid to stop.
Image Credit: Glenn Pebley