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SM05 10-20-2010 12:10 PM

Street noise soundproofing
Hi guys,

We moved into a new house a few months back. I'm thinking about mitigating street noise coming from the relatively busy 2 lane street with a bus stop about 20 feet away from the house. It's an old row house with single pane windows + storm windows and what looks like either original, I doubt, or a very old door. Door sits in a 1-2 feet deep cavity. There is also a single pane small glass window right above the door. For now I'm considering concentrating on the first floor only, where we have a tall window and the front door.

I've been researching it a lot. I think windows issue is a much more straightforward fix, aside from being expansive one of course - Door and the glass above it issue is what I'm not quite sure how to approach.

I was thinking about installing a storm door but am not sure how much improvement that's gonna make. I am also not sure how much of a difference replacing the (front) door gonna make. I'm also not sure how to handle the glass window above the door. There is also door's mail slot, which I'm sure results in some sound bleeding.

So, I'm trying to weight in various solutions, their effectiveness and of course cost associated. I'd ultimately hire an acoustics contractor/consultant to evaluate it for me and tell me what's gonna work and what's not before I spend any money or invest time into that. I just can't seem to find anybody like that in DC metropolitan area.

I'd very much appreciate any input or any contractor referrals. Thanks in advance!

Ron6519 10-20-2010 03:43 PM

I put Andersen, Low e, insulated glass windows in my brothers house in about 2000. It cut road noise down to a whisper. He lives on a county road with a fairly constant traffic count per day. He has the original 1915 front door with a full glass storm, circa 1990.
If you need more, they make windows for areas surrounding airports.

gregzoll 10-20-2010 03:45 PM

First thing is to get a sound db meter and record the noise levels through out the day.

We have just double pane windows with storms in our house, which when closed, the noise level drops tremendously. Air as an insulator works better than using materials haphazardly.

SM05 10-20-2010 10:57 PM

Yeah, measuring is already in-progress step. I actually do happen to have a sound meter handy. Thing is, our house is 2 houses (and that's row houses) down from the stop light. So, you get lots of idling cars with stereo cranked up. And when bus goes from idle you really feel. :eek: Iíve seen spikes over 80db so far but need to measure more. I also can clearly hear people talk on the sidewalk waiting for the bus.

I see where both of you heading and agree that it's easier to handle windows. The windows I mentioned earlier are installed as a 2nd set of interior windows, essentially creating that air buffer. Additionally, City of Alexandria here won't let me change windows w/o an approval on a 1890 house. So, having those other windows installed on interior side takes care of that issue.

I still am not sure about the door though. When low frequency hits it I can not only feel it in the house in the living room but I do also feel the door resonating it a bit via vibration. That's why I think taking care of windows won't be enough. So, not sure what to do about it. Seeh.

So, what do you guys think about my door options Ė replace or leave and install storm door? Is there any way to figure out whatís gonna be effective before doing any work.

Thanks again.

Ron6519 10-21-2010 07:08 AM

Can you even put a storm door on the house?

SM05 10-21-2010 01:02 PM

From the stand point of getting it approved? Yes, I can. Will have to get a permit first though. Looks like review board favors open type storm doors, ie with more glass to have as much of the original door see-through as possible.

My concern about storm door is basically overall "flimsiness" of it and still having some noise bleeding. Additionally having just a regular glass there makes me wonder if it's gonna help any or not.

gregzoll 10-21-2010 02:16 PM

We have Larson doors on our house, and they cut down on noise, and are not flimsy at all. The front one has the screen that disappears when you close the upper glass, but in your area, the review board may require a one piece glass. As for the windows, find out which companies & type they recommend. You may want to head up sometime to Worcester Ma. where a lot of homes have been redone, or even since you live in Alexandra, look at some of the more historical ones and get some ideas from those.

SM05 10-25-2010 12:31 PM

Been measuring it on and off. When cars swing by it registers in low-to-mid 60s dB. When bus stops by I've seen it in the 66-72 dB range. In some rare cases I've seen it spike to 80-82 dB.

Thanks for the Larson recommendation. I'll definitely check it out.

Looks like I have West Windows Corporation storm windows installed here. They don't provide STC ratings on those. When I called and asked they said they don't rate it. Not a good sign.

I've also come across this company called Mon-Ray, which makes soundproof storm windows and doors STC rated around 30, which is better than double pane windows.

So, my new revised plan is: instead of adding interior soundproof windows, replace the existing storm windows with better and higher STC rated ones; and add a decent STC rated storm door before attempting to replace the front door. Any thoughts if I'm on the right track? Thanks again.

gregzoll 10-25-2010 03:04 PM

That is not bad. That is the norm for a office space.

SM05 10-25-2010 04:56 PM

I'm one of those extremely sensitive to the noise people. My wife could care less btw. So, it is rather bad for me. When people waiting for the bus yap non stop, car with cranked up music or something like a bike stops by it's as if it's right there in our living room.

So, I'm hoping that the first step of replacing storm windows/door with the quality ones would make a perceived difference. Iím hopping itíll make a difference, cause if not, then thatíll be a plain waste of money.

gregzoll 10-25-2010 07:17 PM

Getting the windows replaced, closing up air leaks through outlets, switches, ceiling fixtures, holes from attic & basement through walls, and defiantly stopping the flow of noise through the windows & doors would also help. If you can get the outside walls spray foamed, and same with the basement to help stop the transmission of noise, that would help also.

Check with some of the recording studios in your area, especially if they are in historical buildings to get ideas from their engineers how to stop the noise, same with the Worship Arts ministers for some of your local churches.

valueremodeling 10-26-2010 07:04 AM

Hi SM05,

I happened to stubble upon your post. Everyone here has offered you good advise. However being in the business for the past 20+ years I can give you a bit of professional perspective. Start by finding out if your home falls in a designated district. Many cities / towns designate areas as historic districts and only permit certain types of products which can be used.
If you can, consider using vinyl or wood replacement / new construction windows with Low"E" / Argon Gas. Try to get the lowest U-Value and SHGC Value you can get. For instance the replacement windows shown here will do a great job at sound proofing your home. By Installing the Argon Gas, it creates a invisible wall which helps deflect the noise. Hope this helps!

SM05 10-26-2010 10:24 AM

gregzoll, thanks for the suggestions. I've got a tiny window to the basement almost at the ground level below the offending door/windows I'm trying to soundproof. It's not sealed at all. I recall inspector saying that since furnace and water heater are in the basement it won't hurt to have a little air getting in. I'm sure it does wonders to sound transmission as well.

valueremodeling, thanks for your insight. I've been reading conflicting point of views on that out there. One group says replace the windows with modern ones. The other group says keep the original windows in an old house as they add to overall look & feel and try mitigating the noise issue by other means, such as restoring the windows, insulating them, adding high quality storm windows, etc. I can definitely appreciate both sides.

Ted White 10-27-2010 02:49 PM

Just a point of reference here. Thermal properties of windows do not necessarily translate into acoustic properties. Glazings, gas, etc have no effect on the acoustic performance. Sound waves are primarily affected by mass between you and the source of the noise.

Similarly, foam is excellent for thermal isolation, and terrible for acoustic isolation.

The soundproof windows first mentioned may be your best bet. They use laminated glass, not plate glass. Laminated glass is what is in your car windshield. Laminated glass is not only much more massive, but the glass panes are somewhat damped by the polymer used to fuse them together.

These windows are installed on the inside of the original windows so you maintain the look and symetry of the original windows, if that's an issue.

SM05 11-10-2010 07:58 PM

Thanks. I'm actually about to pull a plug on Mon-Ray storm windows/door installation ( Took a lot of research and a long time to find them. Similar concept to interior soundproof windows I mentioned earlier, similar materials, ie laminated glass, and really high STC ratings (40 and up). This also leaves my old windows intact.

One variable & unknown at the moment is the storm door. Door stoop is old and warn out, so they can't do a nice air tight installation. It needs to be leveled. So, I may have to get that replaced, which I'm not crazy about as it's an original one. But I don't see another way.

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