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How to "sound proof" bedroom windows ??

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by ePat, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. ePat

    ePat

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    Haha, YES !!!
    (Damned, I can't post pics in here), see:
    http://www.designbuzz.com/entry/coolest-sleeping-pods-for-some-serious-napping-job/

    Or something like a cocoon, you know the type the spaceship crew sleep in in sci-fi movies. (I must be thinking "Alien")...
    What came to mind last night as I lay awake was that if I could find a really truly great thin sound-blocking foam I could get (or make) myself one of those old-style aviator hats (think WWI) and line it with that foam ??? Surely, having the whole head wrapped in such way should work...

    Apologies to everyone who is reading this thread in order to obtain useful information ;-)

    O.k., so back to business. Fiddled around some more. As described before, putting wooden panels against the windows inside did not do a thing. But I managed to slide them in-between the shutter and the glass on the outside. And that was better. Not great, but certainly at least the high-pitched tones were somewhat reduced. So in that respect, Adster's physics won :) (preventing the glass from vibrating in the first place). Or at least I thought so. Went to sleep and was woken suddenly in the middle of "my" night by something that sounded / felt like an earthquake. Deep rumbling that I had never heard before and that kept coming and going. Eventually I got up, took my earplugs and the panels out and realized what that was.: they were watering their flowers, using a watering pot. And the noise that the water made as it rushed into the pot was amplified by the wooden boards to sound like it did. That plus good old bone conduction (back to the aviator hat). Conclusion: wooden panels are great against high-pitched sound (female voices) but at the same time they are amplifying those sloooooooowwwwww deeeeeeeeeep sinus waves. Bummer. Will need something different or might be better to use multiple different materials - except the space I've got is only about an inch wide (2.5cm), so would need to be something reasonably high-tech-y.

    I've already got an idea. It seems that people who are unfortunate enough to be living near large airports and are craving a good nights sleep are in a similar situation (noise levels combined with deep frequencies).
    And it seems that there are companies dealing with exactly these type problems. Usually, these urban areas are not too posh, so whatever solutions there are, there must be something affordable. I'm looking into that right now and will post when I know more.
    Pat
     
  2. Ocean

    Ocean Senior Member

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    I have similar issues because I tend not to fall asleep till early morning, so as I'm going to sleep all the day's noises are beginning: dogs barking, trash collectors coming, motorcycles revving up, construction workers working on buildings, weed whackers going, you name it. I'm also noise sensitive and ever since the CFS a very light and poor sleeper. All I've come up with is ear plugs and two very loud fans and shutting my windows in the morning even though it gets stifling hot when I do. Sometimes the fans keep me up because they're so loud but they do an okay job of drowning out a lot of noise and with earplugs I don't hear them quite as much. Good luck. I feel for you, not being able to sleep is horrible. I'm struggling with it every day, and not just because of noise, but also because of poor sleep patterns due to CFS.
     
  3. ggingues

    ggingues $10 gift code at iHerb GAS343 of $40

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    Doesn't insulation act as good sound barrier?

    GG
     
  4. Nielk

    Nielk

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    How about noise cancelling headphones or earbuds?
     
  5. Adster

    Adster Senior Member

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    I posted the Japanese sleep pod as a bit of fun, but then I thought maybe it's not such a crazy idea if you really need a solution here and moving house is not an option. You could build a small "sleeping room" within the room, just a plywood "cubby" with thick sound insulation and isolated from the floor to reduce low frequencies like traffic etc. A small quiet fan could provide fresh air. Might be a bit warm in summer perhaps.
     
  6. ePat

    ePat

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    Hello, this is radio ePat with your daily news update on noise blocking at phoenixrising-FM :)

    ...just in a bit of a silly mood today...

    @ Ocean.: Thank you for your kind words. You understand like only someone with ME can.
    Don't even get me started on the trash collectors !! The only thing topping them off is snow-scraping. Yes: scraping, not shoveling. Those neighbors scrape every bit of snow from the pavement of their driveway. Idiots! Instead of removing the top layer with a shovel (that would be snow shoveling) and then using a large plastic broom for the remaining bit. Thankfully it doesn't snow here very often, but when it does, they really do tick me off. Why not just leave the bit of snow where it is and enjoy it and the fact that it muffles sounds so nicely ?? - end of rant -
    I wish we could trade some temperatures. I am always cold, no matter how hot it is. Give me a 95F (35C) day and I'll lie in bed wearing socks, sweat pants, a long-sleeved shirt, fleece sweater, woolen fingerless gloves and a woolen beanie and feature cold-as-ice fingers and face (and even tongue). If it's colder (which it usually is), I add woolen leg-warmers, a second beanie and a fleece jacket or down vest. At times I sleep on sheepskins, in one of my down coats, wrapped in a heating blanket (and the usual bedding on top). This illness never seizes to amaze and fascinate me. I just wish I wouldn't have it (don't we all). But if I were you I'd view the high temps as something positive. Your body is clearly fighting something and that's good (even if it makes you feel bad).

    @ GG: Physics can get VERY confusing in combination with ME. I can hardly recall my basics (I have actually dug my old books out). But to answer your question: no, heat insulation and sound blocking are not the same although some materials might serve both purposes.
    Heat is a form of electromagnetic radiation and sound is a mechanical wave.
    Radiation comes in different wavelengths. The lower frequencies are what you perceive as heat, the higher frequencies are visible as light (even higher frequencies would be ionizing radiation).
    In contrast, sound is the spread of tiny pressure and density differences through matter (such as air, water etc).
    Sound-waves transport energy, whereas radiation waves consist of electric and magnetic fields (and can well exist in a vacuum).
    What I am trying to say is that you need to distinguish the two.: Think of one of those movie scenes where a person visits someone in jail and they can see each other through a very thick bullet-proof glass panel. So: the glass is not blocking the light, i.e. does not block electromagnetic radiation (of this wavelength). However, those two people are unable to hear each other and need to use a telephone to speak. So: the glass is blocking the sound, i.e. mechanical waves (frequency of the human voice).
    In contrast, if you stuck one of those thick black garbage bags over your head (IF; don't do it, or you're going to suffocate!), you would most likely not see any light coming through and it would get very hot inside after a while. Same if you wrapped yourself in aluminum foil. However, you would still be able to hear everything around you. So that's an example where electromagnetic radiation (of a certain frequency) is being blocked, but mechanical waves / sounds are not.
    Of course some materials can block both, e.g. thick steel. Think bank safe. If you got stuck in one of those, you would not hear or see anything.
    I hope I haven't confused the hell out of you ???
    It depends on the material, but one cannot generalize and say that something that blocks heat also automatically blocks sound.

    @ SickofCFS: what I used were thick solid panels (not thin floppy plywood). The problem with rigid foam (if I am thinking of the same material you have in mind) is that it is light, so that it oscillates much more easily than e.g. thick, heavy wood does (tape is hardly going to prevent that). It also neither reflects the sound, nor does it dissipate it (since the material is very porous as well as homogenous). I have tried a panel of hard foam that was a leftover from some insulation work done elsewhere earlier. And it did not do anything at all.
    The other problem with hard-foam is that it leaves gaps (e.g. around the shutter belt if used on the inside or shutter stoppers on the outside), which soft material (soft foam) does not.
    What seems to be en vogue (at least in industrial settings) is to use weight. Anything heavy that prevents the sound waves from offsetting any oscillation.
    I have been in touch with a few companies who are sending me material samples. What they are selling is not terribly expensive and is used in areas with little space, e.g. to sound-proof engines, compressor cabinets etc from the inside. The bonus: particularly effective at blocking low frequencies. Even more effective if combined with layers of other materials.
    I will let everyone know what exactly they are using once I've seen the actual samples.
    What tends to be recommended for private settings (airport area e.g.) is to use soft but very heavy foam. It seems to be very effective and could certainly be used on the inside of my windows if all else fails. To use it on the outside, it would have to be combined with something else that offers more noise blocking in a thinner layer (maybe the industrial stuff).
    And yes, of course it is always also a question of money. E.g. in the classic private setting: the thicker the foam, the more expensive. But also: the thicker, the more sound absorption. Classic case of trial and error. If thinner isn't enough, and one can afford it, the foam needs to be thicker.

    @ Nielk: great idea for constant background noise (low frequency), but not for sudden short noise peaks (and/or high frequency). So: good e.g. for blocking noise on a plane or constant traffic noise near a highway, but not so much for my setting. Also only practical for people who sleep exclusively on their backs. All others it will hurt or they will lose their headset or earplugs.

    @ Adster: I know that was a joke. Yes, a sound cabin would be great, but it's complicated and pricey to build - or better: have it built - when it is supposed to be de-coupled from the floor, walls and ceiling. The materials would be similar to what I'm looking at now, except I would need more kinds and more of them. (Yes, I have checked out how musicians design their rehearsal rooms). The other huge problem is oxygen. My bedroom is not exactly tiny, but at the end of my night, I am often gasping for air. So an even smaller room really isn't going to work unless I hook myself up to an oxygen cylinder - and that again is way too expensive. And a concentrator won't work because that would need to be located outside - and down the drain goes all the sound-proofing (a fan does not provide fresh air, it merely moves the "old" air around).

    Give me some time, everyone, to gather all those material samples and information. I will know more next week and will post an update then. And thanks again for all your messages :)
    Pat
     
  7. 3CFIDS@ourhouse

    3CFIDS@ourhouse still me

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    Pat, if you get this figured out, there is a market here! We have struggled for years to find some way to soundproof our windows. We have neighbors with roosters, neighbors who mow outside our windows just when we are napping in the afternoon, and neighbors who had a pack of little yippy dogs and then goats which cried incessantly:eek:. And we don't live in a rural area! My husband and I have spent countless hours trying to figure out soundproofing, but we are chemically sensitive and cannot tolerate most materials, including plywood, foam, vinyl. I've thought of using heavy quilts against the windows, but when everyone in the house is sick, no one has the extra energy to get the materials and try all the possibilities. I wish you the best! Keep us posted and if we figure it out first, we'll share!
     
  8. ePat

    ePat

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    @ SickofCFS: I like your optimism "what finally worked for you", not IF anything worked for me ;-)
    Received my first samples and they are useless. Will post details later, as promised. Please keep fingers crossed.

    @ 3CFIDS@ourhouse: boy, your post made me laugh. I know it wasn't meant to, but it sounded like you're living in a zoo :) Roosters can be obnoxious. And goats that don't shut up ??? Wow.
    As to your personal anti-noise-battle.: there clearly is no one-size-fits-all approach. It depends on the sounds you're trying to block (frequencies), where they come in (just the windows or the wall also), on the type window, whether you're renting or owning your place, whether you want something permanent or just a temporary solution etc.
    If your windows are the problem (as in my case), ask yourself if you need to use all of them or can block one or more permanently. (Frequent airing is important, otherwise you'll end up with mold!). Do you want sound-proofing or light blocking also ? Your solution is going to depend greatly on the type window you're dealing with and whether you want something for the outside or inside. Sash windows obviously have limits when it comes to any outside measures. They also tend to have less of a window cavity (if you're looking for an inside solution). Casement windows are easier to work with in that respect, especially if they have sills on the inside as well as the outside. Another question would be if you have shutters, what kind / where they are and how much space they leave for sound-proofing.
    Even without knowing all this, with your level of chem. sensitivity, I only see 2 options for you.: proper sound-proofing on the outside or something more homeopathic on the inside - with that I mean sound-reducing curtains, e.g. (google "sound+curtains" or "noise+curtains") which you could wash until they become bearable. All the materials I looked into either contain plastic or foam or worse (bitumen). And also they all require some level of physical effort to fit. So that might not be an option for you.
    Sorry to not be of more help, but with your sensitivities your choices are very limited, unfortunately.
    Pat
     
  9. ePat

    ePat

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    SUCCESS

    I had figured that it would make more sense to tackle the sound-problem outside (before the sound even hit the window - see previous posts), I have an outside sill - which made things easy and I liked the idea of having all that stuff outside from an aesthetic point of view. There was enough space between the window and the shutter to work with and having a shutter ensured that nobody would see what I had done (no questions asked). The only drawback seemed to be that the shutter does not hold off moisture (especially heavy rain) entirely, though mostly. However, this turned out to be less of an issue as #s 2 and 3 from the following list were both suitable for outdoor use.

    The materials I looked into and considered to be real options were:
    1. heavy foams
    2. heavy sound-proofing "foil"
    3. sound-proofing panels

    re #3: theses panels consist of coconut fibers, latex and a composite PU-foam (PU=polyurethane). They are somewhat flexible and can be handled (cut and glued) like soft wood. They are designed for indoor-use, but can be used outdoors even in a not entirely dry environment. The drawbacks from my point of view are these.: The panels work best if they are attached to another heavy panel, e.g. heavy wood panel or even better: steel panels. The heavier, the less likely the whole construction is going to vibrate. In my case, the space I had to work with would have allowed for a thin wooden panel at the most (steel was to expensive), so it was not ideal. Other drawbacks were the additional expenses for the wooden panels and above all: I would have had to find someone to cut the panels and the wood for me, which was just way too stressful and impractical. And finally, not only would the panel have had to be glued to the wood on the one side, but also to the window on the other, i.e. more work, more costs and potential problems when wanting to dismount the whole construction.

    re #2: this is a very heavy and not too flexible 3mm / 0.12" thick material made from EVA-plastic (EVA=Ethylenvinylacetate) and containing 80% mineral filling material. It feels like thick, heavy rubber. (Just to give you an idea.: the panel I got was 40 x 50" / 100 x 120cm and weighed 17.5lb / 8kg).
    It is obviously waterproof and can be cut with a box cutter or with a good pair of heavy-duty scissors. It can be glued, nailed or tuckered and is obviously very space-saving.

    re #1: I looked into different foams and the one that seemed to be mainly used for sound-proofing and was reasonably affordable was composite PU-foam. It is basically made from little bits of PU-foam that are stuck together, so it looks like a conglomerate (the type of rock). It is fairly heavy, with a panel measuring 40" x 80" x 3.5" (100 x 200 x 9 cm) weighing about 50lb (22kg). It is mainly used for indoor-soundproofing, the problem being that when it gets wet, it changes its sound-absorbing qualities (wet=worse). Working with it (cutting, gluing) is obviously easy.

    I tried out #1 and #2 separately by placing a mobile cd-player outside the window and neither of them did too great a job. The foam hardly made a difference, the foil worked better (much to my surprise), but was not convincing either. The breakthrough came when I sandwiched both. The foil on the outside (away from the window), the foam on the inside (adjacent to the glass). What seemed to happen was that the foil reflected a large part of the noise (techno "music") and the foam absorbed another portion of it, so what finally came in through the window was surprisingly little noise. (Plus the foil on the outside protected the foam from getting wet).
    However I must stress that the deep bass sounds were transmitted from the sill (on which the cd-player was standing) through the wall.
    So if anyone has problems with structure-born sounds (versus airborne noise) sound-proofing the windows will not help much.
    For me, this is the best solution I was able to come up with. I was able to stick my foil-foam-sandwich to the glass of the window by means of industry-grade double-sided tape, so that I can still open and close it. The glass panel is small enough and the tape good enough for this to work despite of the heavy weight of the sandwich. The remains of the window (i.e. the frame) is covered in the same material, which is standing (literally) on the outside sill, so that weight or any problems with having to make my sandwich stick is not an issue.
    Cutting and fitting the materials was relatively easy, even for a very sick ME-person (o.k. yes, it did take me a week, I did a tiny bit every day, measured something on one day, cut something on the next, glued it on the third etc, but I managed to do it !).
    What I would strongly suggest to anyone planning a similar undertaking though would be to find a local company that deals with sound-proofing and sells this sort of material. Because whatever you are going to use will be very heavy, shipping prices are exorbitant, if shipping is available at all. Keep in mind that a lot of these manufacturers or distributors cater only for larger projects or the industry so that they will in all likelihood not be too interested to go through the hassle to pack and send you just one panel of something. And if you figure that that something won't work, you'll have to ship it all back. A lot of the materials are geared for industrial use, so might only come in large-ish sizes and not everyone sends out samples. In my case, it was easy to obtain foam-samples, but impossible to get samples of the more exotic materials (such as the foil or the panel). So personal contact or local connections really do help under these circumstances.
    I think I have described in my previous posts were to best go looking (e.g. ship-building, engine-building-type environments etc). But obviously it depends on your exact situation (sound-proofing inside or outside etc, see above posts also).
    I hope my journey (ordeal) through the labyrinth and the pitfalls of sound-proofing my window is helping others who find themselves in a similar situation. There is obviously no one-size-fits-all-approach, but I hope that the ideas, thoughts and reflections in this thread to which so many fellow-sufferers contributed will be of help to others who are trying to understand what will be necessary to ensure they get decent sleep :) THANKS AGAIN AND GOOD LUCK EVERYONE !!!!
     
  10. Adster

    Adster Senior Member

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    Thanks for reporting back. May you finally get some decent sleep!
     
  11. ePat

    ePat

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    Thank you :)
     
  12. 3CFIDS@ourhouse

    3CFIDS@ourhouse still me

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    Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to share with us your hard work in finding a solution! I'm going to have my husband, who has been researching this issue for years, take a look at what you've done. My CFS/ME brain doesn't absorb details very well; he has a CFS/ME brain too but it's in better shape than mine:rolleyes:.
     
  13. zoe.a.m.

    zoe.a.m. Senior Member

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    I've spent the better part of the last 3-1/2 weeks (since I moved into a new rental) trying to answer these questions. With all of the time not spent sleeping, I've been googling and googling... and it's absolutely true that it's an incredibly expensive thing to address (like far far more expensive to do topical remedies than to change the structure with something pretty cheap (to begin with or as a renovation), and that every sound probably is incredibly unique and so there is no way to treat the problem without a correct diagnosis!

    I've tried to find an acoustical engineer or consultant--cheaper than buying enough foam to fill two windows--to discern if it's the windows, the drywall, the flooring, etc. This place has all of them as possibilities and they can all work together too. Haven't found anyone outside of a city to do that type of work yet though.

    So far I've tried the 1.5" Dow blue board (the rigid, light-weight foam mentioned elsewhere on this thread: comes in a few colors depending on the company (so proud of myself for the work it took to get it, cut it, move it, cut again and firmly place in giant window--needed a 4'x8' sheet). I got it all set up, had the new black-out, vinyl-backed curtains over it, went into the other room (heard dog barking sharply) and walked into the bedroom (right next door) expecting to hear close to nothing, and heard close to NO difference. Have since hung sleeping bag over that curtain rod as well and shoved my bed into the farest corner of the room.

    I may try the clear vinyl that you can adhere directly to your window (to add mass), but it's expensive and I'm not sure if it can be removed without a problem...

    The more I read, the more it seems it's all about mass, mass, mass. With window blocks, you really want an air space of at least 1.5" in between the glass and whatever you are plugging it with; it's the air spaced trapped between that is meant to disperse the sound-wave energy. It feels better to cram the window full psychologically I've found, but I do think it's all about space as well as mass (depending on your surface). For people like myself who are dealing with sound as vibration as an awful add-on to regular, higher-frequency noise, I've read a lot of things ranging from "move already!" to "add as much mass as possible," put carpets down, hang fabric on the walls (more like curtains), put heavy furniture in the room and bags of sand in the areas that reverberate the most sound.

    Hope I haven't gone too far off the subject, but this is really close to home. I don't know if it's okay to post sites that sell products, but there are a couple of companies that sell all of the appropriate foams and products ($$$). You have to really wonder at builders who design and build things that really don't stand a chance against environmental sound pollution. Anyone spending a week researching soundproofing probably knows more about possible problems and solutions than the people actually building or drawing up plans!
     
  14. ePat

    ePat

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    With regards to Zoe's post (I feel for you...) and the question of expenses I would like to add that I got my material from a company that does sound-proofing projects for large industrial firms. They had some leftovers from their last assignment that they sold to me for half price. So it is worth to ask around locally....
     
  15. Allyson

    Allyson *****

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    I use soft earplugs and then put a soft, pliable pillow over the top part of my head - i covering ear and forhead - when i sleep and i find that helps.
    Heavy curtains like velvet actually help more that you would think, and so does greenery - can you plant a leafy green plant outside the winndow? helps a lot.
    My brother is a drummer and he lines his room with the 24-size flat egg cartons and that helps a lot to muffle the sound.
    I would never complain about the neighbours - that only makes them mad and worse in my experience; rather I would talk to them if you can and say you are sick and ask for their help to argue elsewhere if possible; bake a cake or give them a bottle of wine too maybe.
    I keep a fan within in my foot's reach of the bed so i can turn it on and off with my foot when i get hot overnight and i find the white noise it provides is good when it is hot.
    Leafy plants inside the room and crushed velvet coverings and curtains help absorb sound too, as does anaglypta wall paper - ie the raised textured kind.
    I feel for you as I know there is nothing worse - except yes, leaf - blowers and garbage trucks.
    Oh, my hyperacousia seems to have settled a litte with IM vitamin b 12 injections weekly so that may help too- it certainly helps my sleep generally, making it deeper and longer, tho not a magic bullet yet.
    Oh in Italy evey one uses those heavy metallic shutters than roll down on the outside of the window and that used to block all sound in Rome when I was there.
    Playing soft music - a cd that you know will not crescendo - on continuous loop all through your sleep could help too.
    Good luc , do let us know if anything works.
     

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