Myths About Noise Busted!

By December 28, 2018 October 14th, 2019 Acoustics
Myths About Noise

There is often misinformation about noise online, so we have decided to bust some common myths about noise.

#1 Trees and Shrubs Block Noise

Contrary to popular belief, shrubs, trees and foliage don’t block noise, and acoustic experts have proven that a barrier with a low mass and density won’t provide good acoustic performance. An effective noise barrier is typically made of a higher mass/ density material such as wood, masonry, earthwork (such as an earth bank), steel or concrete.

It is an incorrect assumption that trees and shrubs protect from noise, but trees and shrubs do not provide any sound reduction as this is a psychological assumption that a ‘hidden’ or ‘out of sight’ noise source provides an effective barrier. 

Although trees, shrubs and foliage act as an attractive border to any garden, they also attract wildlife and provide both privacy and shade. Although they don’t block noise, they do provide an added benefit to most gardens, particularly when it’s windy and ‘rustling noise’ will provide a mild masking effect.

#2 You Can’t Complain About Noise!

This is a myth, as it is your right to complain directly to your local council about any noise nuisance. You can be reassured that your personal details will be kept in the strictest confidence and your council should not divulge your details to anyone. However, councils do require further information to be able to pursue any complaint and to investigate if the noise is a statutory nuisance or likely to have a detrimental effect on your quality of life. Your council will require you to either:

  1. Complete diary sheets for a period of time to confirm when the noise nuisance occurs.

OR

  1. Document the nature of the noise for a period of time.

Following the above action, your council can later install noise monitoring equipment to obtain sufficient evidence on your behalf. 

To raise a complaint to the council: follow the link below and type in your postcode in. This will lead you to your local council and the relevant actions to pursue your noise complaint; Report a noise nuisance to your council

#3 Noise Barriers Are Expensive

With the right information, protecting property from noise needn’t be expensive.  Various factors that affect noise barrier performance and include; mass/density, location, distance from source/ receiver, orientation and height. Therefore, before you invest in a noise barrier solution, acoustic advice from an acoustic consultant should be sought to guide you to a cost-effective solution to permanently solve your noise problem.

Typically, an acoustic barrier will require a minimum height of 1.5m and the materials used to reduce noise will determine cost.  Material types include wood, masonry, earthwork (such as an earth bank), steel and concrete. It is now also possible to make noise barriers with active materials such as solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity while also reducing traffic noise. Here is further guidance about what types of noise barrier solutions may work best for you.

#4 Installing Resilient Bars or an Independent Frame to a Timber Floor or Wall will Help Pass a Sound Insulation Test

This is a myth, as lots of timber party walls or floors won’t always pass a sound test by installing resilient bars or an independent frame. There are various methods for checking whether a party wall or floor element will achieve the Building Regulations Approved Document E requirements for sound insulation:

1) Predicting the performance via an acoustic consultant: This can be done by including a margin for flanking and workmanship to make certain the element being installed is likely to meet building regulations. The accuracy of this can be improved through inspection of the separating element.

2) On-site testing of the structure: Testing the structure will give a greater clarity to sound insulation results and will include flanking elements such as external walls and junction details. 

3) Laboratory Test Data: Having laboratory test data available with the existing or proposed element will improve accuracy of the predicted sound insulation performance.

The steps outlined above will help the acoustic consultant determine the exact steps necessary to meet Building Regulations. For further information on steps to improve sound insulation performance.

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