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Soundproofing a noisy neighbor

rachelatxrachelatx Registered User new member
My neighbor has a short-cycling outdoor A/C unit (Texas) which means it’s turning on and off much faster and more often than it should. This will eventually kill the motor and often leads to needing a new unit. Their unit is quite old and has done this three times in two years now, twice fixed with apparently something minor (don’t know). I did speak to them the first time just to let them know, since I’ve had it happen to me before and it’s expensive. They were total jerks and told me it’s fine and I can pay for it if it bothers me that much. Cussed under their breath as I walked away. The motor died 2 months later (told ya). ANYWAY its back and it’s right by my bedroom, about 10 feet from my head. It turns on and off every 3-4 minutes now, but in a month it will be about every minute, and in two months it will be every 4-6 seconds. I know because this has ruined my sleep/sanity three times now, for that long each of the first two times. The sound is quite loud since the motor is taxed and it wakes me up. I can feel the kick of it turning on through the walls and ground. It also makes my electricity flicker when it turns on - the city came out and checked for me and I lose half my wattage, but not full power so they wouldn’t do anything. I moved to the spare room on the other side of the house last year but darn it this is my house and I want my bedroom. These neighbors won’t go away and are not reasonable so I’m looking for advice. Things I’ve tried besides being a friendly neighbor? Last year I bought sound dampening blankets - like for generators, ceiling panels, plywood, foam egg crate things, and some gym floor mats and made a wacky wall against my wooden fence by their unit. It all got rained on and anything not wood or plastic ended up in the mud and super trashed - took forever to sift out of the dirt. I built a giant sized baffle box like I would for a camping generator - it seemed to shoot the sound up under their roof overhang and I didn’t get any relief. I’ve looked into acoustic panels ($$$ eek), or getting insulation sprayed into my walls (meeeeh..), or a remote controlled generator so I can just drown out their sound with a more consistent sound and at least sleep (I still like this one but kind of a jerk move), or even jerkier some kind of “slap on the wrist bell” where when you make a sound that produces X amount of decibels in my bedroom this device will automatically respond with a sound that will produce the same amount of decibels in your home (can’t flicker their lights though). Found some funny renditions online. I’m not going to be a jerk so.. what can I build or construct, and with what materials, that can help me drown these people out? There are city rules on fence height, but I finally have no HOA!

Posts

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Acoustic panels and egg crate foam do almost nothing for sound-proofing (and you should basically ignore any advice that suggests using acoustic foam, egg crate panels, or egg containers as soundproofing material). They are designed to absorb reflected sound to prevent reverb and other undesirable artifacts when recording, and do little to attenuate sounds (especially bass frequencies).

    The two things that sound-proof are 1) mass (see products like mass-loaded vinyl and heavy sound-blocking curtains, for instance) 2) stopping airflow (if air can flow, then sound can flow through, too). Things like having two separate walls with an airgap between them do a LOT more than just a single solid wall, too (sound-proof windows are often double layered with an airgap). There are also materials that change vibrational energy into heat (and thus, sound-proof better than other materials) like Green Glue compound.

    Basically, placing stuff against your fence, while increasing the mass of your fence, does little because the sound is going through the air-gaps, unless somehow your fence encloses your entire house in a bubble. If you had a huge hedge between you and the source of the sound, it could diffuse some of it, I guess, but this requires maintenance and care.

    The sound is likely actually flowing through your windows/doors, though, rather than the walls/floor. Sound generally goes through the "weak points" of the facing wall from your perspective. Heavy blackout curtains (the more mass the better, and you want them to stretch from floor to ceiling) can help a lot to attenuate the sound through the windows if you can't afford to replace them with double-layered windows. Thicker doors also block out the sound (see "mass"), as well as plugging up airgaps under the door with a draft stopper or weather-sealing your doors. Getting a thick and heavy rug (or replacing your carpet with thicker stuff, possibly with an acoustic layer to attenuate sound) can help with vibrations that make it through the floor.

    Your best bet is a "room in a room" setup which is decoupled from your floor, but that is quite expensive from a construction standpoint.

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  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    The police won't do anything about the noise??

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    If your solution costs more than ~7k, consider buying them a new A/C unit instead... Christmas is around the corner

  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    Also try:

    Isolate your bed from your floor using rubber mats, so that you don't get vibration/sound coming through your bed. (example product, not tested.)
    Ideally, you want something like that underneath the actual AC as well.
    Put your bed against an inside wall, not the exterior.
    Line the exterior walls with bookcases or similar.

    None of these cost all that much; they also won't help that much, but they will help.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    It's totally possible that they just cannot afford to do much about it, and it's a massive stressor for them too. Not to sympathize with the neighbours too much, but I remember when I was totally broke in college, some dude screamed at me out of his window to get my belt fixed (my car was screeching in the morning) but I had like 17 bucks to my name. It sucked and I for sure cursed right the fuck back (cause baltimore). Never know how much debt people are in, and it doesn't make it less expensive or make it easier to afford to have someone tell you that it annoys them too.

    You don't really mention white noise anywhere, other than using a louder generator. Would a white or brown noise over speakers do the same job?

    I've heard some loud air conditioning buzzing in my life, but I feel like I must not understand the decibles we are dealing with for a short cycling one for it to be that bad inside your house.

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    The brown noise is the tone that supposedly makes people shit themselves

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Iruka wrote: »
    It's totally possible that they just cannot afford to do much about it, and it's a massive stressor for them too. Not to sympathize with the neighbours too much, but I remember when I was totally broke in college, some dude screamed at me out of his window to get my belt fixed (my car was screeching in the morning) but I had like 17 bucks to my name. It sucked and I for sure cursed right the fuck back (cause baltimore). Never know how much debt people are in, and it doesn't make it less expensive or make it easier to afford to have someone tell you that it annoys them too.

    You don't really mention white noise anywhere, other than using a louder generator. Would a white or brown noise over speakers do the same job?

    I've heard some loud air conditioning buzzing in my life, but I feel like I must not understand the decibles we are dealing with for a short cycling one for it to be that bad inside your house.

    Was going to say something like this... no one wants to deal with having a shit A/C, especially when they need to have it on. I really doubt they are sitting on the other side of the wall with devil horns saying "lol we're going to run our shitty machine all night to wake the neighbors even though we could easily afford one that works." They are very unlikely to be happier about this than you are.

    You don't have to like the noise but unless you plan to buy them a new one or help them fix theirs maybe cut them some slack.

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Also if your walls are not insulated, put some spray insulation in the walls. I’ve been told Texas is lousy about that in houses.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    The brown noise is the tone that supposedly makes people shit themselves

    That's a brown note, and as far as I know it's busted:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note

    Brown noise is just lower in frequency and I associate it with pleasant humming, and it might even out a motor sound a little better than a higher pitched sound.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    Iruka wrote: »
    It's totally possible that they just cannot afford to do much about it, and it's a massive stressor for them too. Not to sympathize with the neighbours too much, but I remember when I was totally broke in college, some dude screamed at me out of his window to get my belt fixed (my car was screeching in the morning) but I had like 17 bucks to my name. It sucked and I for sure cursed right the fuck back (cause baltimore). Never know how much debt people are in, and it doesn't make it less expensive or make it easier to afford to have someone tell you that it annoys them too.

    You don't really mention white noise anywhere, other than using a louder generator. Would a white or brown noise over speakers do the same job?

    I've heard some loud air conditioning buzzing in my life, but I feel like I must not understand the decibles we are dealing with for a short cycling one for it to be that bad inside your house.

    Was going to say something like this... no one wants to deal with having a shit A/C, especially when they need to have it on. I really doubt they are sitting on the other side of the wall with devil horns saying "lol we're going to run our shitty machine all night to wake the neighbors even though we could easily afford one that works." They are very unlikely to be happier about this than you are.

    You don't have to like the noise but unless you plan to buy them a new one or help them fix theirs maybe cut them some slack.

    It's guaranteed to be way fkin louder in their house too :(

    ceresElvenshaezepherin
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