Soundproofing Against Outdoor Noise

noise reduction at home
Scott Warrick of Bloomington, Ind. has a noise problem outside his house: jackhammers. "I'm enduring three months of daily jackhammering as they tear down a local school."

Excessive noise entering your house is a problem. It can stress you out, make you irritable, and, when it comes to heavy machinery and lengthy exposure, can potentially affect your hearing, too.

Here are soundproofing measures homeowners can take to reduce outside noise from entering their castle. Some of these have the bonus of reducing heating and cooling costs, too.

Consider the windows

Windows are a prime source of sound transmission. There are soundproofing measures you can take inside and out to muffle them. On the outside, investigate the seal around the window itself. Combining inexpensive, easy-stick weatherizing strips and new caulk helps seal both acoustic and energy leaks. Consider adding storm windows if you don't have them and if the noise is persistent.

On the inside, install a clear window film. Quality window film will not obstruct your view but will provide a soundproofing buffer. Several window films on the market are easily installed, and can be removed with soapy water. One brand, Energy-Film, insulates from heat loss in the winter and solar gain in the summer.
Finally, invest in heavy curtains. Look for dense, heavy fabrics with a textured surfaces. Some curtains and blinds are marketed as noise reducing; these can be helpful. If you are crafty or frugal you can sew an extra layer of dense fabric on the back of any regular curtain.

Add insulation -- everywhere

Insufficient insulation allows a lot more noise to enter your home. So, do yourself a noise-reduction and utility-cost-reduction favor and add additional insulation. The upfront cost of insulation will be offset by reduced utility bills. The added quiet won't hurt, either.

Cover the walls

Hang tapestry, quilts or other textured cloth on interior walls to reduce noise, too. (Note: Don't forget that sunlight can severely damage these collectibles; be sure to place them carefully). You can also rearrange furniture. For example, you could place a filled bookshelf against a particularly noisy wall. Depending on the severity of the noise and aesthetic concerns, you can purchase and neatly conceal thin acoustic soundproofing foam or foam board behind furniture.

Acoustic panels can be pricey and may work better at muffling, not blocking, incoming noise.

Create white noise

One way to get around a noise problem is to make your own. The gentle whir of a fan can help camouflage other noise. So can a "white-noise generator," a device typically marketed as a sleep aid. You can also look into adding other white-noise generators outdoors, such as trees and fountains, and placing them in front of windows. There are more tips in "How to Reduce Noise Pollution in Your Yard."
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