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Chimney damage (C) Daniel FriedmanBuilding Noise Diagnosis FAQs
Q&A on Stopping Noise Problems in Buildings

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Questions & answers about diagnosing & curing building noises.

From wind noise at chimneys to animal noises in the basement, a stunning range of noise complaints in and around buildings is given by InspectApedia's readers. These FAQs offer suggestions for fixing various nois complaints in buildings.

This article series includes catalogs of types of building noises & sounds, common sources for each of these noises, & methods of sound or noise control in buildings during construction or as a building retrofit.



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Questions & Answers About Noises & Sounds in Building Interiors

Raccoon outdoors on a downspout (C) Daniel FriedmanThese discussions of finding and curing the source of noises at, in, or around buildings were posted originally at NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE - a complete guide to diagnosing and fixing noise complaints. Be sure to see the suggestions found there for diagnosing and stopping aggravating building noises.

15 Nov 2017 (mod) said: - check with your doctor about noise complaints that only you can hear

Betty,

When no one knows what you're talking about regarding a building noise complaint, the place to start is with your doctor. There are several medical conditions that can produce very upsetting noise that sounds like a variety of things: music, talking, TVs, radios, talking, shouting.
flag like reply

15 Nov 2017 Betty said: I moved but noises are still bothering me and people don't believe me

Hello,I just mved again. From one high rise to another.Guess what the sound is here to. Now people look at me strange when I tell them,but there is nothing funny about this. I lose sleep every night.The building gets this like mumbling talking TV running but it is not.

It is very agravating it gets louder late at night.No one knows what I am talking about.I have ear plugs in and 2 lrg oreck air cleaners running that will not drown it out what could it be help please,this noise is like groaning in a way thanks betty

(Sept 22, 2017) (mod) said: sources of common sound meters or dB Meters - where to buy a Decibel Meter

Rise-Pro low-cost dB meter sound meter decibel meter at Amazon.com  - discussed at InspectApedia.comAnon,

You might find a dB meter or sound meter that measures sound level in decibels from a local electrical supplier who also sells VOMs and DMMs (volt ohm meters and digital multimeters).

There are also many decible meters reaadily available online from vendors and at prices ranging from under $25. to around $6000. U.S.D.. You'll choose a dB meter and its price range depending on your needs for accuracy, range, pritned documentation and other features.

Decibel meter features that may be useful include

Examples at prices given in the fall of 2017 in the U.S. ordered by Price

Table of typical sound levels in decibels dB (C) J Wiley & Sons Best Practices Steven BlissThe table of typical sound levels in decibeld dB gives an idea of the decible measuring range you may need for measuring noise levels in and around buildings. More about sound and noise control and noise measurement is at SOUND LEVEL MEASUREMENT, HOW TO


(Sept 22, 2017) Anonymous said: Where would I find a noise detector

Where would I find a noise detector in Ryan Co galwAy

(Sept 7, 2017) Carl said: update on steps to isolate pipe vibration noise

Thank you all for your comments and help

Update - I was just told by apartment maintenance who the manager has tasked to do the work, will indent and dog-tail soundboard in between two vertical studs the AC tubing runs vertical up the wall and cover with very thin sheetrock.

This does not cover where the tubing actually originates at the bottom of the bedroom wall between the two vertical studs immediately to the right of intended installation of sound board.

This does nothing to isolate the vibration of the copper tubing from the outside compressor and apparently will not seal outside "hole" created by last week's "pulling of tubing from the brick wall" that has exposed copper tubing.

I'm perplexed why the apartment manager used her personal credit card to buy the boards and sheetrock instead of the apartment maintenance funds, especially since this is only the 5th day into this month's billing! Something sounds fishy.

Manager refuses to have AC company do the work that screwed it up to begin with. Once again, it should have been fixed by Oasis last summer under new construction warranty but the manager chose to blow me off several times in person and ignore my emails with sound recordings of the bedroom wall noise.

I do not expect this to fix the problem and further prolong the noises in the bedroom wall and the expense to fix it correctly up to code.

(Sept 3, 2017) Carl said:

I totally agree with you but the management doesn't really care! Neither does the Oasis AC company. One of their employees last summer said the condenser has no way of causing vibrating in line. Then when I confronted him that he was full of it, he admitted it was the cause but was too afraid to tell his boss and management the compressor and lines in wall was problem.

He was fired about a week later.
I think you and I both know these people throw love together for monbey, not service nor stand behind their work and the complex manager doesn't care to really pay the money to do correct fix. Apparently, she isn't honest and more so.

(Sept 2, 2017) (mod) said: - refrigerant tubing in contact with any sharp or abrasive edge combined with vibration is likely to eventually lead to a failure.

Carl,

I agree that refrigerant tubing in contact with any sharp or abrasive edge combined with vibration is likely to eventually lead to a failure.

About pulling tubing out of a wall, if that was done carelessly it could kink tubing left in the wall, leading to a new operational problem -that's speculative of course since I have no view of the situation.

The air handling you describe sounds jury-rigged to me too, which raises question about who, with knowledge, is designing, installing, and maintaining the system. Mistakes are most-likely to mean higher operating and repair costs, and possibly inadequate heating or cooling. I suppose there could be some safety concerns as well.

(Sept 2, 2017) Carl said:

Thank you for your apparent qualified knowledgeable response. I told my apartment manager your concern about a new AC compressor creating so much copper pipe vibration and concern the lines would eventually pop. Apparently, the response is to ignore the true source of the vibration in the tubing from the compressor and concentrate on only cutting the wall open more, stuff fiberglass insulation on both sides of the tubing in the wall, then cover with thin sheet of acoustic board from Home Depot.

Then place thin sheet of sheetrock over the acoustic board, texture and paint the wall. Obviously, the vibration of the copper tubing will continue, even if miraculously this process reduces or muffles the clanking, rattling of tubing in the wall. Today I looked outside where the tubing enter the outside brick into my bedroom wall and evidently Oasis pulled all of the AC tubing outside and few inches on both compressor hole inlets into my bedroom wall.

The result is exposing liquid Freon line copper tubing to touch the other metal flashing like the first one did when they first cut into the wall and already covered up by replacing the sheetrock a few days ago. They also pulled out gaping yellow insulating foam surrounding the outside hole inlet the tubing leads into my bedroom wall. A very sloppy job.

The Oasis supervisor that apparently did this was the same one that last summer personally heard the noises in my bedroom wall and said it was originating from the outside compressor and someone (in his crew I guess) screwed up the installation. Evidently he didn't inspect the work at the time of construction early last year. However, he did nothing at that time but pull the copper tubing from outside brick wall just like he did yesterday. Obviously, that didn't permanently fix the noise problem inside the wall.

In addition, yesterday, I informed Oasis supervisor when I moved in I discovered a removable panel atop the inside central heat and air unit was removed leaving a square foot hole in the air duct to the ceiling that prevented air to circulate throughout my apartment. I also told him I discovered no air filter had ben put in the inside unit and the complex "stole" one from an unoccupied unit. Yesterday, I discovered my neighbors inside heat and air unit also had the square foot panel off the ductwork and lying next to the unit, same as mine.

This convinces me Oasis does shoddy work that does not comply with code, doesn't do a thorough job inspecting their employees work, and extremely unprofessional and teetering on unknowledgeable of professional work. They evidently also, along with manager,don't care to correct maintenance deficiency of proper central air conditioning installation or stand behind their work for customer satisfaction.

(Aug 31, 2017) (mod) said: - noise traced to refrigerant tubing in a wall

Carl

First, good work to have found the noise problem. I agree that it sounds as if the tubing wasn't well-installed, as it shouldn't be vibrating nor making noise in the wall.

I'm not happy with pushing the tubing snug against an outer brick wall: that risks corrosion or vibration wear and leaks in the tubing.
I'd have wanted it secured and isolated from both the exterior and interior wall surfaces. Foam insulation would have been perfect for that application once the tubing was properly positioned.

I'd also want a look at why there is so much vibration in the first place. It's odd for a compressor/condenser unit to transmit such troublesome vibration noise into a building via the refrigerant lines. Usually there is slack and perhaps a loop in the line near the compressor/condenser specifically to permit a little movement without ripping open the tubing connections.

I can't comment on what's normal noise level, in part because I can't hear it and in part because we have no objective data such as measurements made using a dB meter.

I'd warn the responsible management that the apparent-repair that was done is likely to cause more expensive damage by vibration, wear, corrosion, and leaks out of the refrigerant.

And I'd look at obtaining some objective noise data using actual measurements.

When you have some noise level measurements made at the equipment, at the wall, and in the occupied space, you can compare those with some of the typical noise levels found at SOUND CONTROL in BUILDINGS inspectapedia.com/BestPractices/Sound_Control_in_Buildings.php
where we catalog various ways to control noise levels in buildings.

But before doing anything to "control" noise transmission you want to know that the equipment is working properly and its refrigerant piping is properly secured.

(Aug 31, 2017) Carl said:

The noise is coming from the Air Conditioner tubing inside the bedroom wall that is an exterior wall. The tubing is coming from outside compressor for apartments that feed through a metal flashing hole into my bedroom wall and the lines run up the wall to 2nd and 3rd floor apartments (not my apartment).

The tubing is loosely snaked inside the wall and not anchored to the studs by vibration absorbing clamps.
The apartment complex's AC contractor, Oasis, cut 4 square foot holes in my bedroom sheetrock and pushed the tubing against the outer brick wall and shoved weather insulation between my sheetrock wall and the tubing.

The also did a "V" cut in the flashing tubing where the copper tubing from the compressor was hitting the flashing hole that the AC lines enter the wall from the compressor. The noise reduced for 7 days and returned worse than before work.

Bottom line, I've spoken to AC people and they say the contractor did not properly install the lines inside the wall correctly. That is, the did not use vibration absorbing clamps to attached the tubing to the studs to prevent the vibration in the tube from the compressor to clang and rattle inside my bedroom wall.

What suggestions do you have if the manager claims the noise is normal and wont do anything using a reputable AC company to correctly fix the lines?

(Aug 30, 2017) (mod) said: - At the outside compressor/condenser, a clanking sound can be a failing compressor motor,

Cark

At the outside compressor/condenser, a clanking sound can be a failing compressor motor, provided you've ruled out simply loose parts.

Please see our discussion of CLANKING NOISES in HVAC SYSTEMS
at
inspectapedia.com/noise_diagnosis/HVAC_Noise_Descriptions_2.php#Clank
and let me know if that's incomplete or if it leaves you with more questions.

(Aug 30, 2017) Carl said: What causes wall noise (clanking/rattling) when outside AC compressor is running?

What causes wall noise (clanking/rattling) when outside AC compressor is running? What is Fix Compressor is 1 1/2 years old but noise when I moved into apartment complex about 1 1/2 years ago. Apartment building had just been built new.

Manager says normal noise. It isn't it is in bedroom wall prevents sleep made recordings and emailed to manager. Opened 1 foot squares in wall and pushed loose AC tubing against outside wall in wall and stuffed weather insulation, did "V" cut cut where tubing metal flashing collar around tubing in wall that opens to outside brick wall to outside compressor.

Sound still in wall and manager claims nothing else can do. Bologna I am only renter with this noise in wall and last summer supervisor over AC company that installed new construction hear noise in wall & said someone screwed up tubing installation in wall but didn't fix while under warranty and manager refused to take action at that time.

This is 2nd summer of noise in wall. I have Tinnitus from Vietnam era concussion explosions and this is driving me nuts.Thanks

(June 2, 2017) (mod) said: - high pitch squeal bathroom faucet or toilet

Cheryl,

The noise you describe is one I've experienced as well. It's an effect of the velocity through particular segments of pipes or fittings that sets up what amounts to a resonant vibration.

Changing the water pressure or flow rate even slightly can make the noise come or go. You could try slightly closing the main water supply valve for the home, adjust the home pressure regulator, as well as checking for and cleaning faucet strainers and shower heads.

(June 1, 2017) Cheryl said:

1981 manufactored home. high pitch squeal bathroom faucet or toilet. Turned faucet on noise stopped, turned off quickly noise started, turned water on noise stopped again.

While turning the water off slowly the noise starts again when 1/2 way off. The toilet and sink are next to each other. Father says when he jiggled the tank on toilet the noise stopped also

(Mar 20, 2017) (mod) said: -

Perhaps, I don't know enough of your situation to have an opinion; there are various ways that sound is transmitted between building floors such as by the HVAC system, ductwork, piping.

Before someone can specify a solution they'll need to identify the sound source as well as its transmission path- that's on-site work for sure.

(Mar 20, 2017) Pat Wright said:

Our apartment is in the first level of a new building. Yesterday we were disturbed by noise that sounded as if it was from the apartment above (2nd).

However, the noise emanated from the 3rd and last level. The roof for our block of appartments is the terrace for the apartment on the 3rd level. Could this be the reason the noise is amplified? Is there a solution?

(Mar 3, 2017) Anonymous said:

ST

Before suggesting a "fix" we need to know the source of the sound - perhaps if you search InspectApedia for BANGING PIPES you'll see a common cause.

(Mar 3, 2017) ST said:

Hi,

My condo is 20 years old. There are 192 units in my block.
We have been hearing knocking sound at certain time of the day and night.

It is especially loud and clear at night. In recent days it has become so bad that
I counted the knock 50 times at certain time of the night.

Our sleep is deeply affected.
Where can we get help.
My country is sunny throughout the year. Thanks.

(Dec 23, 2016) (mod) said: - what to do with a noise occurrence time log

Natalie: thanks for an excellent question: what to do with a noise occurrence time log:

You might ask your building maintenance staff what heating, cooling, electrical, or plumbing systems, components, or individual machines or appliances are working at those times.

Look also at what else is happening at the times the noise is heard, such as

Those two are examples of temperature changes that can relate to thermal expansion or contraction of materials that can make sounds

(Dec 23, 2016) Natalie said:

Hi, just moved into a small condo. 21 units. A few owners complain of hearing clicking noises at certain times of the day.

Once we have a noise time log. Who do we consult to investigate whether this is heating, plumbing, concrete or whatever? Bldg is 14 yrs old.Thanks!

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Also see NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - more questions and answers about the cause and cure of sounds and noises at and around buildings.

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