Inner quiet can make outside noise seem louder
QI have a question regarding outside noise penetrating inside my home. Recently I have noticed that I am hearing more outside noise inside my home. I can hear my nextdoor neighbours having conversations, and they are not yelling, it is a normal speaking voice. I’ve also noticed that I am hearing more traffic noise as well. My home is 30 years old. I have replaced all the windows and doors and recently replaced all the eavestroughs, fascia and soffits. It was shortly after I replaced the eaves, fascia and soffits I noticed the increase in noise. The soffits have small perforations which I was told was for air circulation in the attic area of my home. Could these perforations be the cause of the increased noise, and if so, how can I remedy this? Would increasing the insulation in the attic and walls help? I’ve also heard about an inside paint coating that will add some sound buffering. I’d appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks, Lorraine Stephen. ANSWER: Changes in noise levels within a home from external sources are often due to a change in the environment rather than anything with the home itself. Upgrading windows, doors and exterior trim should only improve noise reduction rather than increase it. Exploring changes to your lifestyle or other environmental factors may yield the answers you seek. Replacing old soffits, eavestroughs and fascia with more modern aluminum ones may increase ventilation to the attic, but should have little effect on any noise level within the home. Even if the older wooden soffits have been completely removed, there should be little increase in noise except within the attic itself — unless there’s no insulation on the attic floor. The only noise issue with your new metal trim would be movement or whistling during high winds. That type of movement may only occur due to excess vibration if the soffits are not properly secured. Replacing 30-year-old windows with new ones will often reduce noise associated with poorly sealed older models. If your old windows had deteriorated weatherstripping or hardware, they would not only allow air to leak, they could allow more sound from outside to infiltrate. Having new windows, likely vinyl with dual- or triple-pane sealed units, should make your home more resistant to exterior noise. If you notice the sounds specifically near the windows, there could be a problem with installation or the window themselves. I frequently see newer windows installed without removing shipping blocks or pads that can prevent proper closing. Also, if you have casement or awning windows, ensure all of the cam-locks are tightly closed. The only way the windows may be more porous to sound is if you have replaced good quality, triple-pane casement windows with dual-pane sliders. Sliding windows do not seal as well as casements and taking away the extra pane of glass would reduce both efficiency and sound-deadening. If the modifications to your home have not caused the increased noise, then what is the culprit? Look at whether something in the exterior or interior environment has recently changed. Do you have children or family members who have moved away? Did you have pets that are no longer in the home? Have you cut down trees or vegetation near the house or in the yard? Have your neighbours made any modifications, such as a new high-efficiency furnace that may be venting near your walls? Any or all of these items may create more or less noise affecting your perception. Exterior factors that are louder than before may appear obvious, but changes in your lifestyle that reduce noise within the home can be more insidious, and often more to blame. Many homes are loud and boisterous when kids are home, or televisions, radios, or stereos are on. The lack of these may not be that noticeable, but the dampening factor will be. This “white noise” factor can be significant in blocking other sounds that may always have been present, but are now noticeable because of the lack of more familiar ones. Something as simple as replacing old, noisy dishwashers, furnaces, or clothes dryers may have reduced indoor sounds that block external ones. If you discover the culprit is reduced indoor noise, finding something to replace the hubbub may be the answer. Turning on talk radio programs, mellow music, or other sources of pleasant noise may drown out the annoying sounds from outside. Masking the perceived louder outside noise may be more effective than any sound-dampening paint or insulation methods. Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and the past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors — Manitoba (cahpi.mb.ca). Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out
his website at trainedeye.ca.