Designing your Building to Pass Part E Sound Insulation Testing
We at APT Sound Testing often get asked what architectural features or plan arrangements can reduce the level of sound insulation or introduce additional sources that may cause us to fail our sound insulation testing.
Here is a quick list of the most common problems:
- Internal stairs directly beside a separating wall – this can lead to footsteps being heard inside the adjacent dwelling, especially in bedrooms.
- Using lightweight blocks on flats – lightweight blocks are often used in the construction of internal walls despite the block manufacturer’s warnings that they should not be used for the inner envelope or dividing wall construction. The walls are so lightweight they vibrate (almost like a snare drum) so sound can travel up or across the partition.
- Chimney stacks, flues and fireplaces built within a separating wall – this can lead to sound traveling up the flue and being heard in flats above and/or below.
- Recessed cupboards (presses) within a separating wall – this usually means that the width of the sound insulation is compromised which directly leads to a reduction in sound insulation levels.
- A flat spanning over several flats below, for instance a penthouse;
- Communal stairs beside a separating wall – as this is a heavy trafficked area it can lead to footsteps being heard inside the adjacent dwelling, especially in bedrooms.
- Communal vertical soil vent pipes and horizontal service pipes within a separating floor – if the services are not properly boxed out this can lead to general noise going straight through the floor as well as the noise of flushing water as it runs down the SVP pipes etc.
- Lifts beside separating walls – this is often a bad scenario due to the higher start up current that’s needed to start a lift, this can cause a loud whine when the lift first starts and if there is insufficient sound insulation within the lift wall this will usually be heard by the adjacent resident/s
- Water pumps used to raise water pressure – this can be problematic especially where a bedroom is located on the opposite side of the partition.
- Chimney stacks, flues and fireplaces built within a separating wall – this is often a major cause of noise problems as they are often built quite close to each other thus reducing the mass of the separating wall/partition.
- Recessed cupboards (presses) within a separating wall – again this reduces the sound insulation levels as it reduces the mass of the wall partition.
It is worth noting that with careful consideration during the design phase most potential sound transference problems can be negated.
Unfortunately, general exposure to excess amounts of noise from adjacent dwellings may act as a catalyst affecting the occupant’s health and well-being. Noise that is unavoidable, unimportant or emotive is often the most annoying. Disrupted sleep and listening to television/radio are the most common noise-disrupted activities. Noise transmission between dwellings causes increased tension between neighbours and leads to disputes, which may result in physical assaults.