Soundproofing your Home for Airplane Noise

Soundproofing your Home for Airplane Noise is a challenge that is affecting millions of homeowners around the country.  Noise from aircraft is a growing problem, affecting an increasing number of homes as airports in major metropolitan areas are expanding due to increased demand for air travel. Excessive noise has been linked to numerous health problems, including hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, stress and sleep disturbance. Economic analyses have also determined a direct correlation between noise levels and property values of homes in the vicinity of airports. To address these issues, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a program (Part 150 of the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979), which enables airport operators to reimburse for the construction of noise barriers and/or sound insulation treatments for homes, schools and places of worship that are adversely affected by aircraft noise. So, soundproofing your home for airplane noise is getting financial support from the FAA to pay for it. Check with your local airport to find out if your community qualifies for government subsidies for soundproofing.

Aircraft noise is rich in low frequency sound (depending on the type of aircraft and the distance between the flight line and hoe. This is due in part to the fact that the atmosphere tends to absorb high frequency noise to a greater extent than low frequency noise. As a result, low frequency noise appears to travel farther and spread wider than high frequency noise. Low frequency noise poses special problems for soundproofing your home for airplane noise, and is generally more difficult to attenuate than high frequency noise. You can see why soundproofing your home for airplane noise is a multifaceted challenge.

Soundproofing your Home for Airplane Noise
Airplane Noise

There are various paths in which aircraft noise can enter your home and disturb your peace and quiet. Sonic-Shield acoustical engineers have examined these noise transmission paths and can offer or recommend soundproofing materials and products to effectively reduce this noise. An examination of the various noise transmission paths and potential solutions is provided below.
• Windows/Skylights – Windows can transmit the largest amount of exterior noise into homes and offices. Most single pane windows offer only a modest amount of noise reduction (STC=26), and use of thicker glazing may increase the STC to about 33, which is not adequate for soundproofing. Acoustic windows include double- or triple-pane glass and can increase the STC to beyond 50, however, they are expensive for most homeowners. Alternative lower-cost soundproofing treatments can involve the use of secondary glazing, which is an additional window placed on the inside of the home behind the existing window, or the use of acoustical curtains.
• Doors – Exterior solid core doors with weather-tight seals will typically have STC values in the mid- to high 30s, which is about equal to that of the exterior walls. The addition of a storm door can also increase the overall STC of the door, depending on the thickness of the glass and the effectiveness of the weather stripping. Alternatively, use of metal acoustical doors can significantly improve the STC of the door assembly into the 40s and above.
• Walls – Exterior walls will have large surface areas onto which noise will impinge and propagate to the inside of the house. If the exterior siding is being replaced, it would be relatively straight-forward to apply a sound barrier material, such as Sonic-Shield Noise Barrier (SSNB) to the outside of the house prior to the re-installation of the siding. If this is not possible, then soundproofing must be incorporated on the inside walls. Here, if the interior drywall is removed, SSNB can be used together with a sound absorbing material (such as Sonic-Fiber) can be used to provide both sound and thermal insulation. If it is not desired to replace the interior walls, we recommend use of an extra layer of drywall, installed on the existing drywall with a layer of viscoelastic caulk.
• Wall- or Window-Mounted Air Conditioners – These units can provide a direct and un-impeded path from the outside of the house to the inside. Many of the vents, when closed, provide adequate thermal insulation, however, they do not provide good acoustical insulation. If noise from these units appear to be excessive, we would recommend a sound attenuating enclosure, with a baffle design that is capable of flowing air while suppressing noise.
• Kitchen, Bathroom and Dryer Exhaust Vents – Like air conditioner units, these provide direct paths to the outside of the house through which noise can enter. Here we recommend duct liners, which will attenuate noise from traveling through the duct, or acoustical baffle that are capable of flowing air while suppressing noise.
• Electrical Outlets and Lights – These fixtures may be cut into the outside siding or plywood and provide a direct path of noise to the inside of the house. For these fixtures, we recommend the use of putty pads, which are molded around the back of the electrical boxes to significantly increase their STC values.
• Roof – The roof also provides a large surface area onto which aircraft noise can impinge and propagate into the attic. Because of the potentially high temperatures underneath the roof, it may not be feasible to use a sound barrier material, such as mass loaded vinyl, directly under the roof. Here, we recommend the use of a sound absorbing material, such as Sonic-Fiber, placed directly under the roof between trusses. Besides being an excellent sound absorption material, Sonic fiber is also an excellent thermal insulator. The layer of Sonic-Fiber under the roof will also significantly reduce acoustical reverberations, which will tend to amplify noise that may enter into the attic through attic vents and fans.
• Attic Vents and Fans – These provide a direct and unimpeded path from the outside of the house to the attic. We recommend the use sound attenuating baffles underneath vents and fans, which enable the free flow of air, while attenuating acoustical energy.
• Attic / Ceiling – Noise in the attic can penetrate through untreated ceilings and into the living space. We recommend the use of a Sonic-Shield Noise Barrier on top of the floor trusses in the attic. If this is not possible, the alternative would be to either remove the ceiling drywall and install SSNB underneath the drywall, or install an additional layer of drywall on the ceiling, using a viscoelastic caulk.
• Ceiling Electrical Outlets / Lights – These provide a direct and unimpeded path for noise to travel from the attic into the living space. For large fixtures, such as recessed lighting cans, we recommend the use of sound attenuating enclosures over these fixtures. For smaller fixtures, we recommend the use of putty pads which would be molded around the entire body of the fixture.
• Fireplaces – Aircraft noise can enter and reverberate within the fireplace and enter the living space. Fireplace dampers are not necessarily engineered for noise reduction and even when closed, may comprise an important noise transmission path. We recommend the use of a tight-fitting fireplace screen in place of the wire mesh screen, with thick glass to attenuate noise.
When soundproofing your home for airplane noise, these are only some of the areas in which aircraft noise can leak into a home or office. Careful attention must be paid to identifying all of the potential noise transmission paths in order to properly soundproof your home of office for aircraft noise. Sonic-Shield offers a full range of soundproofing products and develops customized soundproofing solutions for you home. Our team of acoustic experts can help you identify noise transmission paths and assist you in selecting the appropriate materials and products to eliminate, block or absorb sound when soundproofing your home for airplane noise.