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Old 12-18-2009, 02:17 PM   #1
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sound proofing utility room


I have a room where the furnance and water heater are at (both are gas powered) the room is in a finished basement, but the utlity room is unfinished so the studs are showing in this room for the other rooms walls... now the furance and water heater are loud! (the water heater especially since it has a powered vent fan on it)... is there anyway I can keep this sound out of the rest of the basement? you can hear it in the entire basement and part of the house above it clearly when its running and its annoying... can I stuff insulation in the wall to block some of the noise? or is there a special way to do this? I'd really like to quiet it down and damper the noise some... thanks!

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Old 12-18-2009, 02:39 PM   #2
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I've done a lot of reading on sound isolation (being a bagpipe player).

Most of what you'll read about sound mitigation is based on not knowing the frequencies of the sounds you want to block. There are different strategies you can use for different frequencies. Do you have a high pitched sound, a low pitched sound, or both. I'm guessing it's probably both. You can find out easily if you can make a recording and open it up in Audacity -- open source audio editing software and look at the frequency analysis window.

Somewhere on the internet you can find really cool graphs that show how much of each frequency is absorbed by all sorts of different methods.

Anyway, high frequency sound can be stopped with mass. If you put up more sheetrock, less noise will go through. It's pretty much linear -- if you hang a layer of sheetrock on the room side of the studs it will stop a lot of high frequency noise. Putting batts of insulation will help some, but not a lot. Putting acoustic ceiling tiles (the 2x4 suspended ceiling kind) will help a lot. So will 30# felt.

I'm guessing the room doesn't have a door. If you can put one up, and if it's a tight fitting solid door, then it will stop a lot of noise. But you have a conflict here, because your furnace needs make-up air. I can't help with that You can probably make some kind of baffled tunnel for the air to flow through. The baffles will work to muffle the sound while allowing the air to flow through.

It could be that a lot of the sound you hear in the basement is high frequency noise. If that's the case, then putting carpet (or an actual acoustic treatment) on the walls of the utility room will prevent the high freqency noise from bouncing around so much.

You mention sound going from the downstairs to the upstairs. If it's low frequency sound (the rumble of the motor) then you can put drywall on the ceiling and use special sound-isolation clips. You attach these metal clips to the studs, and then hang the drywall from the clips. That will help to stop the vibrations from going straight through the drywall, into the studs and the then radiating out from the floor. Put some insulation there too.

Unfortunately, sound travels through air, and your furnace moves air. One of the biggest issues in really isolating a room is that sound will move through the ducts and get from one room to another that way. Not much you can do about that.

A lot of the literature you read is also about trying to totally stop the sound. What I ended up doing with my practice room was to design it to greatly reduce the sound in the higher frequencies. You can try a similar approach -- figure out exactly what sounds are most irritating and try to reduce them.

Graphic Standards for architects (in your local library reference section) will show you how much sound can be absorbed with various wall and ceiling strategies.

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Old 12-18-2009, 03:52 PM   #3
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sound proofing utility room


using insulation will help. But overlaying the drywall with QuietRock is by far the best sound deadening method to use.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:55 PM   #4
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using insulation will help. But overlaying the drywall with QuietRock is by far the best sound deadening method to use.
Looks like that might be a good suggestion, I'll look into it
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:58 PM   #5
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what I did that was cheaper than quietrock or greenglue/multiple layers of drywall was to use fiberglass insulation between studs, then cover the walls with pegboard. The holes let sound in and it is deadened by the insulation. It is a very effective sound dampener.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:40 PM   #6
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what I did that was cheaper than quietrock or greenglue/multiple layers of drywall was to use fiberglass insulation between studs, then cover the walls with pegboard. The holes let sound in and it is deadened by the insulation. It is a very effective sound dampener.
Would that be safe to do when your water heater / furance is 12" or less from the wall though? I think I have 12" clearance right now, I'll have to check again.. but its about a foot from the rear of them to the bare studs now... I might want something that is a higher fire rating I'd think?
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:59 PM   #7
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sound proofing utility room


Rockwool on the ceiling and walls.
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:14 PM   #8
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what I did that was cheaper than quietrock or greenglue/multiple layers of drywall was to use fiberglass insulation between studs, then cover the walls with pegboard. The holes let sound in and it is deadened by the insulation. It is a very effective sound dampener.

What you describe is perhaps an effective way to control reflected sound within the room (as would be useful for a practice room or a recording studio), but it won't really stop much sound.

Do this test: Turn up your stereo really loud. Now put a piece of fiberglass and pegboard on top. Doesn't stop much sound. Maybe 3db, but not the 30 or more that we're probably looking for.
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:14 PM   #9
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what I did that was cheaper than quietrock or greenglue/multiple layers of drywall was to use fiberglass insulation between studs, then cover the walls with pegboard. The holes let sound in and it is deadened by the insulation. It is a very effective sound dampener.
you might want to go to the QuietRock site and read on. Your method offers much less sound deadening and not cheaper. QuietRock is equivalent to 5 layers of 1/2" sheetrock.
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Old 12-19-2009, 05:58 AM   #10
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you might want to go to the QuietRock site and read on. Your method offers much less sound deadening and not cheaper. QuietRock is equivalent to 5 layers of 1/2" sheetrock.
5 layers of drywall... in a laboratory setting. It pretty much says right on the home page that it isn't really going to work that well in a real-world application.

Still looks like a pretty good product.

Like I said before though, it doesn't matter if your walls are totally soundproof if the sound has three other ways to get from here to there -- work from the weakest part of the project to the strongest.
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:39 PM   #11
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using insulation will help. But overlaying the drywall with QuietRock is by far the best sound deadening method to use.
I don't know if it's "the best" method out there, but it's certainly good. But, at that price it better be. There seems to be a lot of debate of Double drywall/Green Glue vs. Quietrock on the A/V forums.
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Old 12-19-2009, 04:27 PM   #12
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I don't know if it's "the best" method out there, but it's certainly good. But, at that price it better be. There seems to be a lot of debate of Double drywall/Green Glue vs. Quietrock on the A/V forums.
It's all about the weakest link, which is rarely the wall itself -- much more likely to be the door.
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Old 12-19-2009, 04:52 PM   #13
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It's all about the weakest link, which is rarely the wall itself -- much more likely to be the door.
True. The first step would be a solid core door with the proper weatherstripping. But, being this is a mechanical room, and as you pointed out, it may need to be vented. And as you also pointed out, a baffled type of vent would probably give the best results.
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Old 12-19-2009, 05:43 PM   #14
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True. The first step would be a solid core door with the proper weatherstripping. But, being this is a mechanical room, and as you pointed out, it may need to be vented. And as you also pointed out, a baffled type of vent would probably give the best results.

If he can have an outside air supply that would be even better

I wonder how much of the noise is being transferred from the furnace directly to the basement floor and propogating through the foundation. No amount of wall treatment can mitigate that.
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Old 12-19-2009, 05:54 PM   #15
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If he can have an outside air supply that would be even better

I wonder how much of the noise is being transferred from the furnace directly to the basement floor and propogating through the foundation. No amount of wall treatment can mitigate that.
HVAC isn't really my thing so I'm not sure of the requirements for the venting. I don't think there would be a lot of transfer to the floor. I'm sure most of the noise is from the combustion and blower noise. I'm sure a good door, insulation, and 5/8" drywall would take care of most of the noise, and if not, Green glue and another layer of drywall would take of the rest.

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