Table of typical sound levels in decibels dB (C) J Wiley & Sons Best Practices Steven BlissNoise Event Log
Use this Sound Localization Event Log to Find Building Noise Sources

  • SOUND EVENT LOG - CONTENTS: worksheet records events and conditions to assist in localizing the source of building noises or sounds
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about diagnosing the source and finding the cure for noises or sounds in or around buildings and their systems
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Building noise localization log: use this sound-event log to help determine the source of building noises or sounds. Using a log to record observations of noises related to time of day, weather, equipment operation, building occupancy and activities can help determine where building sounds originate: a process of sound localization.

In this article series we provide a series of detailed articles on reducing unwanted building noise levels through building design, insulation, sound isolation, and noise barriers. Our page top table of relative sound levels (left) is from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons

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Noise Localization Log Tracks Sound-Sources & Events

How to Find the Source of Building Noises by Keeping an Event Log

Table 5-14 is shown at the top of this page.

Two general approaches to tracking down the source of noises in buildings

  1. Where is noise loudest? Using people with acute hearing and/or supplementing with noise amplification equipment (some very inexpensive devices are available and can help, such as from Radio Shack), explore the building inside and out to get closest to the sound source. Add use of a mechanic's stethoscope.
  2. What conditions seem to correlate with noise production: Keep a log of factors that can help identify noise source such as

For unidentified sound sources, general advice on tracking down the source and cause of annoying building sounds and noises includes a procedure similar to our ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE.

To track a mystery-noise or sound to its source, try keeping a noise log, noting the following items - (print and use the table below if you find that helpful):

You can print this web page directly, or save it to a PDF file, or if you prefer, see Sound & Noise Event Log
Used to Track a Building Noise to Its Cause or Source©

[Print this Page for use as a sound event diagnostic log]

Date & Time Observation Comments

Noise Observed: dates, times, description

  The date and time of the noise at each occurrence, especially when it was first observed
Noise Observers:   Who hears the noise? People's hearing ability varies widely; use someone with acute hearing to help track down noises; don't rule out medical conditions that can cause people to perceive noises that are neurological or bodily in origin
Building activities:   Activities: who is present in the building, people, animals; walking or moving around, using equipment, using plumbing, etc.
Apparent noise location, direction:   Probable noise origin by location: differences in noise perception between what is observed indoors, at different indoor locations, and outside. Where is the noise loudest?
Noise properties: describe the noise   Noise properties:
  • Noise occurrence correlated with any of the items in our noise checklist
  • Noise type: buzzing, hissing, bubbling sounds may be identified by matching what you hear to items in our List of Building Noises by Sound Source or Sound Types found beginning just below on this page.
Building Mechanical Equipment: air conditioner, heat, fans, water pump, water softener, appliances, etc. on or off at time noise was observed   What equipment is operating or turned off in the building; equipment may itself be making noise or heating or cooling equipment can cause temperature changes that lead to noises
Weather conditions:   What weather conditions might be pertinent such as wind, wind direction, temperature, temperature changes or shifts, rain, or freezing conditions
Site & neighbors:   Site activities: are there possible noise sources outdoors but near the building from neighboring buildings, power transformers, neighboring businesses, equipment, etc.
Sunlight:   Sun direction and sunlight levels - sunlight can correlate with thermal expansion of materials and thus noises
Temperatures:   Temperature changes: by noting temperatures and temperature changes we might trace noises to creaking, popping, squeaks etc. caused by thermal expansion and contraction of materials or to operating of heating or cooling systems
Wind:    Wind conditions: is wind blowing? From what direction, at what strength; does wind correlate with noise occurrence?
Building modifications, changes:   What has changed in the building that might be relevant such as installation or removal of equipment
Additional Noise Observations:    


Continue reading at SOUND LEVEL MEASUREMENT, HOW TO or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

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