Noise Problems in Refurbished Industrial Buildings
We often get asked to undertake a series of sound test measurements to establish the acoustic performance of the wall of floors construction in existing buildings where the dwelling owners are concerned about excess noise.
In recent years the refurbishment of old industrial buildings into residential dwellings has become a very popular. Frequently the existing finishes of existing concrete, brick or wood Noise Problems in Refurbished Industrial Buildingsare left as the interior finish, supposedly to provide the “loft” type of décor. Such designs require even more acoustic design attention if sound privacy is to be achieved. Potential noise problems in refurbished industrial buildings can be quite challenging so buyers should insist that actual on-site sound insulation testing is undertaken to check the building has complied with the sound design performance criteria of Building Regulations Part E.
If you think you have a sound problem in your dwelling and are seeking help to resolve the problem, be sure to contact us and describe the problem in as much detail as possible. Describe the nature of the sounds, when and where you can hear it. Is it impact noise or airborne noise or a combination of both? If the unit is of recent construction you may need to procure a set of architectural drawings and mark-up which partitions noisiest. The more information you can provide us, the quicker we can try to determine the nature of the problem and subsequently find an acoustic solution for the partition/s.
We can also visit site and undertake sample testing on the dividing partitions. If the partitions fail the tests we can identify the main reasons for the sound test failures so targeted remedial treatments can be undertaken.
One source of great annoyance is often due to sound transmission though windows, this can be down to a variety of factors. If the windows are operable types, the first thing to check is to see if the widows close properly against their seals and any weather stripping is continuous and in good order. If the window leaks air, then more often than not it will usually leak sound. If the window closes to form a tight seal and the weather-stripping seems adequate the next thing to check is the window frame.
Windows are frequently installed in to the wall opening with plastic shims to insure the unit is plumb and level. The space between the frame and the wall should be insulated and sealed before the window casings are installed. If this was not done correctly you can probably detect the sound leakage by placing your ear close to the frame and listening.
Usually double pane windows have poor noise-stopping capabilities. This may be overcome by installing a layer of lamination. Many manufacturers offer this service but it can be quite costly. Although double pane windows do stop a bit more noise than single pane windows it is still not very effective. In a noisy environment, you would hardly notice the difference.
Part of the problem is down to the construction of double pane windows; this is because the two pieces of glass are coupled within the same frame and vibrate together, similar to a tuning fork. Sound insulation, however, is increased markedly by using a double pane system and replacing air by argon between the panes.
In some cases the thickness of the glass maybe the problem in which case it may be necessary to install another layer of glass on the inside of the existing frame making sure that the additional pane of glass is well sealed into the opening.
In our experience ceiling and wall assemblies, can be the main pathways for the two main types of sound transmission. The first type is the airborne sound – such as loud music) and the second is impact sound, such as footfalls on the floor above.
If the ceiling and wall assemblies have been designed and constructed to provide adequate airborne isolation, impact noise can still be a problem. If the finished floor surface has been designed to accommodate carpeting, the carpeting and under pad will normally provide a good degree of impact sound isolation. On the other hand, if the finished floor is floor is constructed in hardwood, stone or ceramic tile. Achieving good impact sound isolation requires much more attention at the design stage to prevent potential sound test failures.
One of the main misconceptions is sound simply passes through materials, this is not the case. Sound waves are form of energy that energises any material that the sound waves come in contact with. Thus sound energy that impacts on a wall for floor/ceiling assembly will cause the material to vibrate like a radio speaker; the energised material then becomes the transmitter of the sound energy.
Thinner, more lightweight building materials often hold the key to effective noise control, by using materials with different acoustical characteristics that will dissipate and diffuse the sound energy. Insulation in the cavity converts some of the energy in to heat while a resilient channel will help minimise the direct connection of the gypsum board from one side of the assembly to the other. Each material and its relationship to one another, produces small increases in sound isolation that in turn reduces the transmission of sound through the whole system and subsequently improves the sound insulation characteristics of the acoustic partitions.
I hope the above article helps to explain the importance material selection within acoustic design. If you would like more information or some acoustic design advice on your project, please don’t hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07775623464.
We often get asked how noise can be reduced in residential buildings such as apartments or terrace houses. One of the most common problems is noise transmission through the floor and ceiling assemblies in flats and through the wall partitions in houses. The usual noise problems range from airborne noise transmission from voices TVs and music to footfall impact noise caused by high heels on wooden/tiled floors.
In most cases for newer residential units many of the problems could have been prevented in the first place, if more attention had been paid to noise control during the design and construction process. If the acoustic design has not been taken into account from the off-set of the project, then it becomes far more problematic and costly if noise problems are discovered and the partitions fail the sound insulation testing during the per-completion testing.
If you are contemplating the purchase of a unit, do not be afraid to question the contractor and the real estate agents about the sound insulation results for the unit. Ask if any of the units failed during the precompletion testing. In some cases just because a sample of the units had been tested during prior to handover doesn’t mean unit has been sound tested.
If you are not happy with the sound insulation properties of your unit then you may have a case to demand corrective action at the expense of others. If you have a noise problem that is not resolved and you go to sell your unit, you may be compelled to reveal the deficiency to a prospective buyer which may have an impact on the selling price.
If you need acoustic advice on your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us no at: email@example.com or call me direct on 07775623464.
Our sound testing procedure is quite simple and our acoustic engineer will be happy to explain this on site. Essentially, for party walls there is one type of sound insulation test which is airborne sound test and for compartment floors there are two types of sound insulation tests which are airborne and impact sound insulation tests. The airborne sound insulation test is carried out by means of a loudspeaker emitting a steady source of noise on one side of the partition (wall or floor) to be measured. The corresponding sound level is measured on the other side of the partition.
Impact sound insulation tests are carried out by means of a tapping machine placed on the floor sample to be measured and the noise measured in the room or space below. Calculations are done based on these measurement and the above mentioned parameters are calculated and compared to the Building Regulations Part E sound insulation requirements for the given type of the building. It is important that the building to be sound tested is completely finished and sealed with no sound leakage through doors and windows. Please see our check list for sound insulation testing for more information.
The airborne and impact sound insulation tests carried out in full accordance with the measurement procedures of BS EN ISO 140-4:1998 for field measurements with a single figure DnTw and LnTw in accordance with BS EN ISO 717. As per the new regulations the Spectrum Adaptation Ctr which is a correction factor calculated from the measured DnT.w and the corresponding third octave band DnT values. It uses a set of weighting levels in third octave bands derived from a road traffic noise spectrum. It is applied to airborne test results and is measured in dB.
There are many quick and simple acoustic wall and floor upgrades to help you achieve compliance with Build Regulations Part E. One of the easiest wall solutions is to install a 70mm met-sec partition in front of the existing wall abutting dwellings. Firstly leave approx. 25mm gap between the back of the met-sec and the existing wall. Then install 50mm acoustic wool to the inside of the met-sec and add two layers of soundboard to the outside of the met-sec frame, ensuring all boards are properly lapped and ensure the perimeter joints are kept back from the surrounding construction and filled with acoustic mastic. Also make sure that all sockets etc. are placed in a different position to the sockets on the other side of the wall to prevent noise transference.
To reduce airborne and impact sound transmission through the floor, one simple solution is to add a timber baton to the bottom of the joists. Then add an acoustic resilient hanger. To the inside of the newly formed void add an AW 25 Isowool acoustic insulation. To the underside of the hangers install 2 x 12.5mm layers of soundboard. Allow for the correct laps in the plasterboard and and ensure the perimeter joints are kept back from the surrounding wall construction. Add AW100 Isowool to the centre joist void and to the top of the joists install 18mm flooring. To the top of the flooring add a 4mm resilient matt.
The above Air and Wall solutions should help your project comply with Approved Document E for Sound Testing in London. If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or needs sound insulation testing then please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we should be able to offer you an expedient acoustic solution to help you achieve practical completion.
Noise flanking can be a huge problem and one of the main causes of excessive sound transmission. If your project fails the sound testing, more often than not noise flanking will be the culprit.
To get an understanding for why the acoustic partitions are performing poorly a detailed diagnosis and invasive investigation, such as the removal of some of the wall and floor partitions will usually need to take place. In many cases a large amount of noise flanking is due to serious design faults such as the use of lightweight blocks in the construction of the walls in an apartment development, this allows the sound to travel along the walls and floors from dwelling to dwelling. In many cases a wall and/or floor partition may have a very good acoustic design and construction; however the partition will still fail as the sound is travelling along a noise flanking path.
We often get asked what ate the main reasons noise flanking on new and existing dwellings, in our experience they are:
Where lightweight blocks used in the inner envelope construction. This allows sound to travel along the lightweight blocks both vertically and horizontally from dwelling to dwelling.
Through dividing floors if there is lack of mass or acoustic insulation has not been installed and/or or direct fixing of plasterboard and/or floorboards to joists without using a resilient ceiling construction and/or floating floor.
Through Windows if they are no double glazed or have secondary glazing as a minimum
Through Fixtures & fittings such as light switches, telephone outlets and TV cable ducts where they sit back to back against the adjoining property.
Along structural joints along the perimeter wall and floor joint. These areas should be filled with acoustic mastic)
Structural steels that run through one property to the other without material isolation, i.e. plasterboard is screwed directly to the steel offering little or no noise isolation.
There are many quick and simple solutions to improve the acoustic performance of dividing wall partitions. One of the easiest wall solutions is to install a met-sec partition in front of dividing partition.
If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or needs sound insulation testing then please contact us at: email@example.com. We should be able to offer you an expedient acoustic solution to help you achieve practical completion.
We thought we would offer some good tips on how to pass your sound testing at the first attempt. The first stage is to ensure that you design the building correctly using the correct acoustic details and materials.
It is also essential that acoustic materials are installed in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines. There are many potential poor acoustic scenarios that can increase the chance of sound test failure, they are:
Ensure no noisy building work is taking place during the sound testing as excess background noise levels can have adverse effect on the results.
You must fit doors and windows before the test is carried out, to stop noise transference.
Ensure that all doors and windows are shutting properly and rubber seals are properly installed.
Do not directly fix screw plaster board into joists, when using Resilient Bars; ensure that they are fitted in strict accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
Do not directly nail or screw through an Acoustic Floor always follow manufactures guidelines and use the correct fixing method.
Ensure you use acoustic insulation with the minimum required density and it fills at least 100mm of the joist void.
Ensure all penetrations such as heating pipes are sealed where they terminate through the floors.
Ensure that acoustic insulation is also packed around service pipe work.
If installing floating screed ensure all isolation layer joints are overlapped and taped.
Ensure that the Acoustic floor is fitted with staggered joints.
Ensure all the Acoustic floor is sealed watertight even around heating pipes.
Ensure that the plasterboard on any walls is complete right down to sub-floor, seal all gaps.
Ensure you use the isolation tape around the wall of each room.
Ensure plasterboard is fitted with staggered layers and all joints sealed.
Ensure all Fireplaces are blocked up with brick or plasterboard.
Ensure that any RSJ’s or supporting steel work is fully insulated and isolated from the main structure.
Ensure all waste pipe service runs are boxed in with insulation and plasterboard.
Do not fit carpets or laminated flooring before you have passed the test.
Our clients often ask ‘how many sound tests do I need on my project’. Part E stipulated that one set of sound tests needs to be undertaken for every ten flats or houses, provided the construction system is the same. A set means that the test should include two locations where the party element (wall or floor) is tested. This is equivalent to two individual tests when assessing the performance of a wall this means 2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor and 2 impact sound tests as a minimum wherever possible. All tests must be undertaken between habitable spaces (e.g. bedrooms, living rooms) and not to or from common spaces such as stairwells and corridors.
Approved Document E 2003 also states that a minimum of 10% of all party walls and floors is sound tested for every type of construction or sub-group, this means where there a variations in the construction of the floors and/or walls may occur then further testing may be required. The amount of sound tests required for each type of development is:
On houses two airborne sound insulation tests on a pair of separating walls would be required.
On flats a 6 Pack would normally be required, this would usually comprise of two airborne sound insulation tests on separating walls; two airborne sound insulation tests of separating floors and two impact sound transmission tests of separating floors
Rooms for Residential Purposes:
On student accommodation, hotel rooms & care homes a set of tests would usually comprise of one airborne sound insulation test of a separating wall; one airborne sound insulation test on a separating floor and one impact sound transmission test of a separating floor.
If you are unsure of the amount of sound tests required on your development, please contact us now at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me direct on 07775623464.
Minimising Noise Flanking Transmission to Pass Sound Testing
One way to reduce the chance of noise flanking transmission/s to pass the sound testing for Part E of Building Regulations is to carefully look at the acoustic details at the design phase of the project, as well as good planning and workmanship thereafter. Unfortunately, by simply specifying high performance wall and floor partitions between dwellings is no guarantee to a sound isolation and subsequently successful sound testing.
Sound travels along the path of least resistance between rooms, usually through any penetrations/air leaks or through rigid and poorly isolated connections in the structure itself, these routes are called noise flanking paths.
Wide gaps below doors provide a flanking noise pathway.
Air leakage around partition walls at the wall/ceilings junction.
Sound leaking through ‘lightweight’ hollow-core doors.
Through ductwork penetrations between two rooms or boiler cupboards placed back to back.
Fixtures & Outlets – Light Switches, Telephone Outlets, and Recessed Lighting Fixtures (if penetrations have been cut back to back with the opposite dwelling under test)
Poor sound isolation between floors, if subfloor wooden planking extend beneath the dividing floor partition and into an adjoining dwelling this will form a sound flanking pathway.
Framing connections that include solid framing members passing between building areas such as oak beams where large old houses have ben subdivided.
Poor isolation to partition abutments to adjoining walls, ceilings, floors
Service penetrations behind back to back kitchens, such as soil stacks, waste and recessed pipework.
Plumbing Chases – Junctures Between the Walls & Floor Slab Above or at the Exterior Wall Juncture (this should be filed with mortar etc. to add mass to this weakened area)
Through Structural Steel (structural steel beams are often a major cause of noise transmission as plasterboard is often fixed directly to the steel without sound breaks)
Dividing Floors – Through Floor and Floor Joist Space (if insulation has not been installed or direct fixing to joists without a drop ceiling below the partition under test)
Dividing Ceilings – Above and Through the Ceiling Space (where an adequate acoustic break has not been carried on through the ceiling void).
Recessed light fixtures that pass through the plasterboard and acoustic insulation.
The wrong fixings used during the installation of resilient channel systems, i.e. drywall screws that are too long that penetrate into the ceiling joists.
Window noise transmission due to poor performance glass etc.
Door noise transmission due to the inclusion of lightweight hollow core doors, with large gaps to the bottom of the door threshold.
On bathroom partitions, install drywall all the way to the floor before installing the bath and seal all plumbing penetrations through walls with a flexible sealant.
If the wall/floor partitions have poor isolation and can greatly reduce the effectiveness of soundproofing efforts and can lead to sound test failures. Even if your construction allows for ‘robust’ sound insulation ratings, it will be rendered useless, if sound can pass easily through service penetrations in the walls and floors or through lightweight doors.
APT Sound Testing offers both pre & post construction design solutions to achieve the required sound isolation requirements of Part E of Building Regulations.
We offer an acoustic onsite inspection service to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guide lines and the quality of the workmanship is consistent with ‘best practice’ noise control procedures and we have the technical experience to help identify and rectify your soundproofing or noise flanking problem/s.
If you would like more information in regards to sound testing, please contact us at: email@example.com or call us direct on 07775623464