Noisy pipes can cause real stress as the noise can strike at any time. Soundproofing pipes is different to other types of soundproofing, so here we look at how to know what type of noise you are dealing with, how to reduce different noises and deal with acoustic lagging.
Read our guide to soundproofing pipes to find out all you need to know now.
What is causing the sound?
Before taking action to reduce the noise and soundproof the pipe it is important to understand the reason behind it. In many cases, the sound is created by the flow of liquid around the pipe structure, including the valves, elbows and other transition pieces.
Pipes may be located behind the walls and ceilings but none of them are soundproofed when the property is constructed. This means that any breakout noise created inside the pipes can find their way through and into the living spaces.
Therefore, we recommend that pipes are soundproofed during the build stage to avoid problems later. Otherwise it may mean spending the time and money to tear things down and rebuild.
What is breakout noise?
Breakout noise is the transmission of sound through the walls of a building and into the living or business space. As we mentioned above, it is often caused by the movement of water or other liquids around the piping structure behind the ceilings and the walls.
It can prove to be particularly annoying as it is not a noise that can be remedied immediately. There are no neighbours to speak with and no acoustic insulation panels that can be placed on the wall, meaning it will involve the removal of the drywall to fix the problem.
What is radiant noise?
Radiant noise is less common and occurs with the expansion of the pipes when the heating system is in operation. This is more of an occurrence in older houses where the piping systems are less robust than they were when the property was built. This can lead to the transmission of noise through the walls into the home which will require acoustic insulation of the pipe with either lagging or wraps.
How can acoustic insulation reduce breakout and radiant noise?
Like any other structure in a property, acoustic insulation will help to reduce strength of the soundwave. Pipes are hollow objects which means any breakout noise occurring in the system can vibrate and travel around the structure of the property.
There are a few acoustic insulation options available, depending on the type of pipe that requires attention. Once the insulation has been applied to the pipe it increases the mass, whether it is lagging or a wrap insulation, reducing the intensity of the sound so it is dampened and less audible on the other side of the wall or structure.
Step by step guide
Soundproofing a pipe can be done in ten straight forward steps:
- Find the right wall cavity that contains the pipes creating the noise.
- The studs either side of the pipe need to be located by punching the wall with a nail and hammer.
- A measurement of approximately one inch from the cavity side should be made to identify the centre of the studs. Once this is done make a mark to remember their position.
- You should then make a measurement of 12 inches down from the ceiling and another 12 inches from the floor, making a mark of both points.
- Position a four inch level exactly in the middle of the stud centre marks, before drawing a line up the stud. This will dissect the 12 inch mark made earlier from the ceiling while also dissecting the same mark made from the floor.
- Form a triangle by joining together all the marks on the wall to identify the opening to the stud that contains the noisy pipe making all the noise.
- Cut along all the marks using both a drywall knife and straight edge. Apply steady pressure to cut through the gypsum board and the pipes will be revealed behind the wall.
- You can use a product like Rocklap Pipe Sections which contains pre-formed insulation on a roll, featuring foil facing and a self-adhesive backing for easy application. This can be used for acoustic insulation on ventilation, heating and air conditioning pipe work, at temperatures between 0 and 700 degrees.
Karmawall Acoustic Pipe Wrap is another alternative, which consists of an encapsulated mineral wool wrap. The self-adhesive fixing strips make this product particularly easy to install and is suitable for all building types.
- Once completed, the cut-out piece of drywall will need to be replaced and nail to studs. This can then be sanded on the painted side of the patch before using drywall tape and fill.
- When using the drywall filler, ensure this extends 4-6 inches on both sides of the seam. This will feather the edge before it is then primed and painted.
What is acoustic lagging?
Acoustic lagging can significantly reduce breakout noise from ductwork systems in both internal and external applications. They have been engineered to ensure extremely high levels of acoustic insulation to control noise transmission.
A great example of this is CMS Superlag Superflex Prime. This product features a 3 part laminate, a flexible but heavy mass layer and a vapour barrier/outer flame that meets the requirement of Class 0 of the Building Regulations. This will provide acoustic insulation for waste pipes and ductwork to ensure noise pollution is noticeably reduced.