Fix It: Soundproofing

Worry no more - a noisy neighbor, bathroom noises and laundry room humming can all be muffled, and sometimes totally silenced.

October 27, 2005 10:48
4 minute read.
soundproof 88

soundproof 88. (photo credit: )


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Worry no more - a noisy neighbor, bathroom noises and laundry room humming can all be muffled, and sometimes totally silenced. Keep in mind that it is always best to plan for soundproofing in new construction. Besides being cheaper and easier to install in new construction, it can also save you about 8 cm of space. However, more often then not, soundproofing only becomes an issue in a home or apartment after it is completed and lived in. Soundproofing techniques vary depending on the types of wall you have. With walls made of drywall, it is possible to remove the drywall from one side of the studs and apply fiberglass or another acoustic insulation. The insulation can be packed in fairly tightly - the denser the material, the more sound you stop. The drywall on that side then has to be re-hung. If you have a drywall ceiling, it is also critical to place insulation above the drywall ceiling. Most often with drywall ceilings you have access to place the insulation in the attic without having to remove any drywall. In ceilings, two layers of insulation would be best to reduce and hopefully prevent noise from traveling from one room to the next. With plaster walls, block walls or even poured concrete, soundproofing is much more difficult. It is always best to try something simple, like hanging drapes or putting bookshelves or cupboards on the problem wall. When this is not possible, you need to install studding, insulation and one side of drywall. This will decrease your space in the room by 8 cm; if the noise level is not so loud you can lose just 6 cm of space by utilizing 5-cm plasterboard supporting studs, packed with insulation, and then covered with a 1-cm piece of drywall. Often the need to soundproof is no fault of the walls themselves - the problem may be a window or door. Windows should be replaced with double-pane glass windows with vinyl or wood frames. Hollow doors could also be replaced with solid doors to help soundproof. A piece of weather-stripping should be applied to the bottom of the door to fill any gap that may exist between the door and floor. Pnina Shields asks, "Prior to my immigration to Israel last year, I was always used to having hot water all the time. This past winter, I had to set my alarm for 4 a.m. to turn on the electric boiler switch so I could take a shower at 6 a.m. In the summer, the water stayed hot all night, and I had sufficient hot water in the morning. Winter is coming, what can be done?" If you want the electric boiler to go on at 4 a.m. and to go off at 6 a.m., it's best to install a programmable timer. These timers have a built in switch so you can always switch it off and on just as the original switch, if you need the water heated at another time. A qualified electrician should install the timer. If you are like most people and at least occasionally forget to turn off your switch, the timer will pay for itself by saving you electricity by always turning off on the scheduled time. Yonatan Court writes, "I am a carpenter in the north (near Safed). I bought some lacquer and 18 liters of lacquer thinner about 3-4 years ago. The lacquer is long gone but I still have most of the 18 liters of thinner. I have a large job - a kitchen - to build and will need to spray some more lacquer. Can I still use the thinner? It has been kept in a closed metal container inside a plastic storage shed and still looks okay. What is the shelf life of this material, and if it is unusable, what can be done with it in this country? How or where can one dispose of partially used cans of paint, lacquer, varnish etc. in this country other than down the drain or the local valley?" Thinner has a very long shelf life. I have used thinner that was in a well-sealed container (with any rust and solids removed via a sieve) that was over 20 years old. I put the question of recycling to Knesset Member Rabbi Melchior, the chairman of Israel's Clean Environment Committee. MK Melchior informed me that he is well aware of the problem and is endeavoring shortly to draft legislation similar to what is in use within the USA and Canada. Until proper recycling methods are available, best is to store it for future use, or leave the cap off and let it evaporate. This is not the best method, but far preferable to destroying the soil and the water below. This Week's Do It Yourself Resource is: Besides being the retail chain Lowes' sales site, it is packed with thousands of tips for a "Do It Yourselfer." The authors can be reached via (02) 585-9559 and at

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