Street noise insulation

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The house we live in is practically new. The guest bedrooms face the street, and although it's not a super busy one, it does get a fair amount of cars driving by. This drive-by noise is a bit annoying in those bedrooms at night. I'm not sure if the majority of the noise comes through the walls or through the windows, but I have a sense it's actually the windows, which are made by Pella (not that it means much). What can be done to minimize the noise level, without the use of some drastic steps such as tearing down the walls to redo insulation?
 
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It's a little early in the day to have a converstation about shrubbery, but can you plant a windbreak or some trees in between? Even a 4 foot tall fence might help. Most of the noise is coming from right at the street level where the tires meet the road. Curtains?
 
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Insulation in a house is for heat rather than sound, but the wall has less to do with it than windows anyway. If you have new Pella windows they are most likely at least dual-pane, so not much you can do there. Curtains it is, the thicker the better. If that doesn't work, you might look into an extra layer of sheetrock on that wall.
 

Quattro Pete

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I forgot to mention, those bedrooms are on the second floor, so a 4-foot fence would not help much. There are already a couple of trees in the front... the front yard is pretty small though, so I can't really plant any more trees there. Yes, the windows are dual-pane. Thanks for confirming the curtains suggestion - I was kind of thinking the same, but wasn't sure if they'd help. Right now those windows are bare - just temporary paper blinds.
 
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An airtight house will also keep out the higher frequency street noise. To keep out low freq. you need a heavy wall to reflect it back. Check for air leaks in and around the windows. What kinds of street noises are coming through? A modern well insulated house will also be so quiet inside you can barely hear the birds chirping outside.
 

Quattro Pete

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Oh, I hear the birds all right. The street noises I'm hearing are engine noise, tire roll... basically whatever you'd hear if you were standing in front of the house, but obviously not as loud. I don't think the house is air-tight. From what the builder explained, it wasn't meant to be in order to provide constant air circulation within the house. Or maybe it was just his explanation of why he built a [censored] house. :)
 
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 Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Oh, I hear the birds all right. The street noises I'm hearing are engine noise, tire roll... basically whatever you'd hear if you were standing in front of the house, but obviously not as loud. I don't think the house is air-tight. From what the builder explained, it wasn't meant to be in order to provide constant air circulation within the house. Or maybe it was just his explanation of why he built a [censored] house. :)
Well, your builder looks for the silver lining anyways... Triple pane windows are available, you'd have to special order them to your area. What is your siding? I imagine vinyl is the most transparent. If you don't have brick aleady you could get real wood siding for that wall, it would help a bit. You might just get used to it after a while too, our dogs bark at night if anything comes near our pasture and it didn't take very long to get used to it. It means nothing is eating the goats! When we lived in town we also ran a fan at night to mask outside noise too. Last resort is ear plugs but they aren't great to use every day. Ian
 
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 Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
What can be done to minimize the noise level, without the use of some drastic steps such as tearing down the walls to redo insulation?
The biggest SINGLE factor in how much sound gets through a wall or window is the mass per square foot of the wall or window. The denser and heavier the material the wall or window is made of, the less sound penetration. The BEST thing you can do inside a house is thicken the drywall. Drywall is a great sound barrier because its so heavy. Another trick is to use double layers of drywall separated by a thin layer of matting or foam, which helps de-couple the two layers and reduces sound conduction. Insulation in the open space inside the wall helps some, but its actually a very small contribution compared to the mass of the inner and outer walls. Sound from the outer wall conducts through the wall studs straight to the inner wall, bypassing the insulation completely. If it were my house, I'd see how costly it would be to add a second layer of interior drywall on all the walls that face the street. And make it a thick layer... Double-pane windows, likewise, mainly work because they double the mass per unit area. (master's thesis in acoustics, long ago in another life...)
 

Quattro Pete

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 Originally Posted By: IndyIan
What is your siding?
The front elevation (the one facing the street) is all brick.
 

Quattro Pete

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 Originally Posted By: 440Magnum
The BEST thing you can do inside a house is thicken the drywall.
Thanks. I was hoping I wouldn't have to resort to this. I mean, personally, we sleep on the other side of the house, which is very quiet. So it's only the occasional guest that may be inconvenienced by the noise. I think we'll just hang curtains there and let it rest for now.
 
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Heavy curtains will help. We have a walk out basement and one wall is almost solid windows/doors. We have a thermal curtain wall mainly for heating and cooling control (west facing wall). But it will make a big difference in sound control when the curtains are closed and birds are chirping in the morning. Or you could move to the country where the only thing you hear is cricket noise at night.
 
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Inside the house, the thing that stops noise is mass. You can add soundboard from home depot to the walls and put new drywall on top of that or get more panes on windows, etc. if you use soundboard, put a bead of silicone caulk between the studs and soundboard, then again between the soundboard and drywall ideally. That helps noise from transferring from the studs. Outside the house, the thing that stops noise is mass. Stone walls, cement walls, earthen berms will do wonders to reduce noise. Visusal barriers such as shrubbery will do almost nothing to reduce noise. If it doesn't have mass it won't stop sound waves. That is why they use berms or cement walls on freeways. Wood fence has minimal mass compared to stone, earth. etc.
 
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lol, insulation in the walls are supposed to reduce the sound transmission. I would attack this in the following steps: 1. plant evergreens along the entire length of the street boundary. pls check hoa rules first. 2. u definitely have leaky windows or ill installed windows. seal them, caulk, foam, any gaps etc. best thing is to look for light or use smoke source. 3. siding? what type of siding do u have?. 4. if air can get in so can sound. so lok around the sill plate and foam any gaps. curtains may not do much. other novel sols could be sue builder, city ;-)
 

Quattro Pete

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 Originally Posted By: stockrex
lol, insulation in the walls are supposed to reduce the sound transmission. I would attack this in the following steps: 1. plant evergreens along the entire length of the street boundary. pls check hoa rules first.
The thing is - this particular bedroom is above garage, in front of a 2-car wide driveway. I cannot plant evergreens there, or else I would not be able to access the garage. :)
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2. u definitely have leaky windows or ill installed windows. seal them, caulk, foam, any gaps etc.
Sealing them would prevent me from being able to open them. Not only is it inconvenient, it's also a potential block of a fire escape route.
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3. siding? what type of siding do u have?.
Brick.
 
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With brick siding and double pane windows already in place, your easy low priced options are slim. You prolly don't have air leaks that matter either. The window would be your big noise source. There are insulated drapes or sound pads. And this. http://www.filmtools.com/msesoblwigr4.html Instead of their high priced pads, these are well made and should also work. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=93156 They are cheap enough to try one just to confirm whether or not they will help. If they don't work, they are also useful as pads to lie on when you are on your garage floor admiring the bottom side of your car. If a small part falls on one the part doesn't bounce into some unknown corner.
 
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