Basic Residential Soundproofing Laws
Residential soundproofing can help with noise control, whether it comes from our neighbor’s stereo, traffic in the street or planes flying overhead. Noise ordinances and soundproofing laws vary greatly. They are so specific that they can vary from city to city, making it difficult to know exactly what the rules are. It is important to know what responsible soundproofing behavior is for your city, so be sure to research your local ordinances.
Vehicles and Home Appliances
The most bothersome type of noise coming from your home is emitted by things like motorized vehicles, furnaces, leaf blowers or other high powered household appliances. Fortunately, under the law you as an owner don’t have too much responsibility for the noise emitted by these machines. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed noise controls on the manufacturers themselves. The manufacturers are required to design their appliances to be quieter.
Depending on your city and its building and zoning codes, you may not be legally obliged to soundproof your home to contain the noise of your blender and egg beaters. On the other hand, common sense dictates that you shouldn’t operate noisy appliances like hair dryers or vacuum cleaner at night. You can also avoid bothering your neighbors by putting large appliances, like your washer dryer, in a sheltered or insulated place, like a basement, to help contain the noise.
Protecting Against Exterior Noise
If you’re building a new home from scratch, or even remodeling an existing apartment, consult with your architect regarding building codes for soundproofing your rooms. Each city has its own set of building codes that provide standards to meet to keep the “skin” of the building soundproof, such as by using glazing techniques, the placement of ventilation, the type of material you use for the roof or other techniques. These codes are particularly important if you live near an airport, because specialized and more rigorous methods must be employed to keep your home insulated against the drone of the planes.
Keeping Noise Inside Your House
There are two basic types of soundproofing that you can do to insulate your own noise. One is basic ambient sound that is conducted through the air, such as from talking, watching television or your dog barking at night. This type of noise is fairly easy to guard against by following your city’s standards for ceiling and wall assembly. Typically, the noise can be reduced with insulation materials. The other type of noise is that which is conducted through walls or pipes via vibration, are structural issues that must be guarded against at the beginning of the construction process. Be sure to consult closely with a sound engineer to avoid excessive structural noise.
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