Welcome to trafficnoise.org, a collaborative arm of Acoustics.com. This site aligns with our goals of promoting the importance of acoustics and acoustic-related issues across a variety of related industries.
Excessive traffic noise is one of the most common complaints among American residents. Millions of people are affected by constant traffic noise in their own home. In fact, traffic noise impacts more people than any other environmental noise source. Traffic noise can affect the ability to work, learn, rest, relax, sleep, etc. Excessive noise can lead to mental and physical health problems. If your home is near a major road or you are experiencing problems with traffic noise, you may be able to limit the impact on yourself and your family.
There are basically four options for controlling traffic noise: constructing (or increasing the height of) a barrier wall, increasing the isolation quality of the home, masking the noise, or controlling the noise directly at the source.
Constructing or increasing the height of a barrier wall could result in a noticeable decrease in traffic noise. However, certain guidelines must be met in order for the wall to be effective:
Increasing the height of an existing wall by 1-2 ft. may make a difference depending on the line of sight issues mentioned above. However, if the wall already blocks the line of sight, increasing the height of the wall by a couple of feet will not provide a noticeable reduction. In fact, the Department of Transportation states the general rule of thumb: each 1 ft. of height added to a wall, above the height that breaks the line of sight between the source (traffic) and receiver (residence), reduces the noise level by ½ decibel (see table below).
Window isolation quality is expressed as a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. The higher the rating, the better the isolation quality of the window. A typical single pane window has an STC rating of 22-25. A typical dual pane window has an STC of 27-32. (See table below). Specialty windows with higher STC ratings are also available.
In existing residences it could be very costly to replace the majority of the windows. Another option that may be less expensive and could produce even better results is to add a window insert in addition to your existing windows. The window insert is placed inside your existing window sill.
Please note that it is important to upgrade the windows that are both parallel and perpendicular to the roadway. It is almost never worthwhile to do anything to the exterior wall of the home, particularly if there is a window(s) in the wall. If the noise does not appear to be transmitting through the windows seek the help of a professional for further options. Contact us for a referral database of acoustical consultants.
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