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What To Do About That Traffic Noise?



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You just bought the perfect house. You love it, it's close to work, the kids school, shopping, your doctor's and dentist's offices. It's really too bad it's also very close to Interstate 35. What to do about that incessant traffic noise? “Control the weak point,” says Tony Sola, founder and owner of Acoustics.com.

Acoustics.com is an alliance of educators, experts and design professionals dedicated to promoting the importance of acoustics 'to the general public.' Their mission is to create awareness in the architecture, construction and health industry of the threat to public health too much noise presents. Studies have shown that excessive noise can have an effect on the human immune system as stress levels rise and rest is denied in a noisy atmosphere. Acoustics.com aims to make this problem more understandable and easier to solve.

Mr. Sola explains that home owners will often do the wrong thing when trying to solve a noise problem: add more drywall, or acoustical tile. This does nothing to alleviate noise from outside the house. “The weak point” is almost always the windows. “The sound almost always goes through the window,” he says, “and doing anything to the walls will be pointless until you have fixed the noise that comes through the window.” Although this is often an obvious thought, it is rarely the first consideration when attempting to resolve the outside nuisance.

Like most construction materials, windows have a rating related to their ability to buffer outside elements. In the window's case, it's called an STC, or sound transmission class, rating. A higher rating indicates the window has a better ability to buffer noise. Single pane windows have an STC rating of between 22 and 25, while dual pane windows rate between 27 and 32. Check this when you are getting ready to replace or upgrade your windows.

Windows aren't the only culprits that let in sound, though. A look at some of the outside fixtures around your home may be advisable. Outside elements can help reduce noise within the house, but are especially important in order to cut down on traffic noise, while enjoying your backyard. A fence with gaps in it, or a row of shrubs, for example, will do nothing to hold back noise. A solid wall is more effective at blocking out noise. As can be expected, the higher a wall is built the more effectively it will block the noise from local traffic or the near by highway.

While a backyard wall may dampen some of the noise, it won't eliminate it completely. In fact, nothing will, but certain elements, when done right, will help to filter or mask out the noise. A water fountain or pond with a decently noisy waterfall, for example is very helpful. This solution is very localized, however, and may mask the noise for only one small part of the yard. A few water features, scattered about a large yard, may be in order here. Also consider utilizing some unique features to promote more of a bird or natural animal population.

It's probably beneficial in the long run to consult with a landscape architect and acoustical expert when working to alleviate traffic noise outside, as well as inside, the house for the home owner's peace of mind, and for his or her peace and quiet.
Joe Cline writes articles for Austin Texas real estate. Other articles written by the author related to Great Hills real estate and austin real estate can be found on the net.

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