Reducing noise in the home

noise - garden party dancingWith many of us still working at home, it is important to minimise disturbance or annoyance to neighbours and the rest of your household – at any time of day or night.


Alarms

Alarms are designed to make noise. However misfiring alarms are one of the most disturbing and annoying neighbourhood noises.

  • Ensure you choose a reliable product and make sure alarms are installed properly and serviced regularly.
  • Car and intruder alarms should have a 20 minute cut out.
  • Register a key holder for your intruder alarm with your local authority who can be contacted if the alarm misfires when you are away (in some areas this is a legal requirement).


DIY and Building work

DIY or building jobs – such as drilling and hammering, sanding floors and car repairs – can create a lot of noise.  This noise can drive your family, housemates and neighbours mad – especially if they aren’t expecting it.  Some thought and consideration can reduce the impact noisy jobs have on those around you:

  • Warn your neighbours/the rest of your household you are undertaking noisy work.
  • Avoid early mornings, evenings and agree acceptable times at weekends.
  • Normally its best to carry out noisiest tasks in the middle of the day – however if people are at home all day or working at home let them know  what you are planning.
  • For some jobs there may be quieter tools available – can a hand tool do the job just as well without the noise?
  • If replacing your kit look for noise ratings on power tools
  • Keep tools well maintained/sharpened and use lower/quieter settings on power tools where feasible.


Garden noise

Our gardens are a place to rest, relax and play and as lockdown restrictions lift, entertaining. Remember that any noise you make in your garden will be heard by your neighbours.

  • Carry out noisy activities in the middle of the day and if you have a prolonged, really noisy job to do such as hedge cutting, agree the best time to do it with your neighbours.
  • Where possible, use CE markings to help you purchase quieter equipment and maintain your equipment properly.
  • Place water features or noise making decorations like wind chimes away from neighbouring properties and switch them off/silence them at night or if you go away
  • If a child’s toy or game is extremely noisy, coax them into quieter alternatives.
  • Having a BBQ or family and friends round? Tell your neighbours, invite them if appropriate
  • Avoid amplified sound outdoors – if you want to listen to a match or music outdoors, wear headphones
  • If you fancy a garden firework display to mark a celebration, choose low noise fireworks, proceed with care – be aware of woldlife or nesting birds, and let your neighbours know especially if they have pets.
  • It is  illegal to let off fireworks after 11 pm (except for Bonfire Night (Nov 5th), Diwali, New Years Eve and Chinese New Year).


Loud music

Music in the wrong place at the wrong time can be torture for neighbours.

  • With amplified sound, keep the volume down, especially the bass which can be more disturbing than higher frequencies. Don’t put speakers on or close to party walls, ceilings or floors.
  • Don’t play loud radio or music outdoors – your neighbours may want to listen to birds in the garden not the football or your favourite tunes.
  • If watching clips or playing games online, use headphones.
  • If you have a bedroom TV, keep it quiet at night – especially if your bedroom adjoins someone else’s.
  • If playing an instrument, practice where and when it will have least impact on neighbours.  Play without amplifiers, use headphones and  mutes for wind instruments and pads and brushes on drums.
  • If you really want to listen or play at loud volume use headphones – but be aware that turning it up to could damage your hearing. See NHS guidance on protecting your hearing.


People

  • Take care when closing doors – particularly if you live in a flat with a shared entrance –  late at night and early in the morning. Make sure doors are shut or wedged open to avoid banging in the wind.
  • If necessary loosen hinges to reduce impact noise or fit a rubber or spring doorstop attached to the skirting board.
  • Cupboard doors can also be annoying – particularly if they are fixed to party walls. Avoid slamming doors. When fitting cupboards use isolating wall plugs.


Pets

  • Dogs bark – but only bark a lot if they are not content. If you have to leave your dog alone, make sure it’s well exercised and fed. Some dogs like a radio for company, or get a friend or neighbour to look in. If your dog continues to bark, consider dog training.
  • Cats can wail and fight – as they are independent they can be difficult to manage – however if a neighbour complains about your cat try and keep it in at night.
  • If you have a caged bird that likes to sing and squawk, make sure it’s kept where it will least disturb neighbours, particularly at night.
  • Some caged pets tend to be more active at night – chewing and rattling their cages. Consider carefully where and how such pets are housed.


Household appliances

  • When buying new appliances, buy a quieter model – not all models have a noise rating – if they haven’t, ask why. If manufacturers make claims about noise they must display an EU Energy or CE Label.
  • For washing machines, if possible, place on an even, concrete floor. Don’t overload and spread load evenly; run the machine at a time when it will least disturb neighbours – remember the final spin is the noisiest bit.
  • Do the vacuuming at a reasonable time – especially if you live in a flat or terrace and avoid early morning or late night cleaning sprees.
  • In the kitchen, avoid banging pans and cupboard doors and don’t use blenders/grinders on surfaces attached to party walls.
  • If installing a new boiler, consider the noise impact on your neighbours as well as the legal distances from windows when siting it. If pipes and cisterns are making noises get your plumber to check them, they may need adjusting.
  • Ensure extractor fans are securely fitted to avoid rattle, and kept them clean so they run smoothly. Fans on internal toilets should not be switched off – but it may be possible to adjust running times.
  • Avoid putting your refrigerator or freezer against a party wall – vibration from these can pass through the structure. Vibration can also pass through floors – if you live in a flat avoid placing your fridge above a neighbours’ bedroom.


Quieter Cars

  • If you carry out car repairs at home, do not do them early morning or late evening and warn neighbours about really noisy jobs
  • Avoid slamming doors, sounding horns, or playing in car entertainment at a volume that can be heard outside the vehicle
  • Quieter vehicles are available. Tyres are labelled for noise which can reduce the sound impact of your journey and contribute to reducing overall traffic noise