Advice for reducing noise at home

Noise from these sources is the most frequently complained about - with music and entertainment noise, one person's pleasure can be torture for someone else.

Simple rules

To avoid annoyance - or worse, follow these simple rules:

  • keep the volume down - whether it's TV, car stereo or conversation - especially at night/early morning
  • place speakers away from partition walls, floors or ceilings. Standing these on an insulating material can reduce transmission of sound
  • if you are having a party, consider inviting the neighbours. Keep windows and doors closed, and if someone complains, turn it down
  • with personal entertainment - for example toys, computer games - be considerate - keep the volume down. Avoid using them in the same room where someone is watching TV or listening to the radio. Turning the volume up may disturb your neighbours
  • if you play your own music, keep the volume down, windows shut and agree times to practice when you will cause least disturbance.

Domestic appliances

We use more and more appliances to help us with the housework - and they can be very noisy. Where you put them and when you use them can make all the difference:

  • make sure washing machines, fridges and dishwashers are away from party walls and on a carpet or mat to reduce vibration - especially if you live in a flat
  • use noisy appliances at sensible times - during normal waking hours. Hoovering in the early hours could wake up half the street
  • consider those at home - if hoovering/using a food processor shutting doors will avoid the necessity to turn up the TV/music
  • if buying a new appliance consider the low noise option. Some products - vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, washing machines etc have a noise rating - if they haven't ask why.

Pets

If pets are well cared for and happy, they shouldn't make too much noise.

  • dogs bark if lonely, bored or unhappy. If you have to leave them, get a neighbour to look after them or visit.
  • cats make noise too - howling and fighting at night. If your cat is annoying the neighbours, keep it inside.
  • all domestic animals - except perhaps fish - have the potential to cause noise. Ensure they are kept healthy and happy. Put cages/kennels etc where they are least likely to disturb your neighbours - and you!

Maintenance/DIY

We all need to do noisy work from time to time to maintain and improve our homes.

  • do noisy jobs and operate noisy equipment when it will cause least disturbance to your neighbours - avoid working when they are trying to sleep or enjoy a quiet night in
  • if you are doing something really noisy e.g. floor sanding, drilling in party walls - let them know beforehand and they are far less likely to complain
  • where possible carry out noisy outdoor jobs in the garage or shed. If you carry out car or other repairs outside, do this in the place and time where it will cause least disturbance
  • if you are employing builders, agree working times with them e.g Monday - Friday 8a.m- 6p.m, that will not annoy the neighbours or you.

Your home

The construction and layout of your home can cause problems within your home and to your neighbours:

  • avoid slamming doors and thundering up and down stairs - especially if you live in a flat or terraced house.
  • when considering options for flooring, be considerate. Many leases prohibit stripped floors/hard surfaces - for good reason
  • if you have stripped/laminate flooring, take off heavy shoes/boots. Socks or slippers will reduce noise
  • if installing laminated flooring, make sure you use sound insulating underlay
  • sounds travel between walls, be aware of what's next door. If you can, avoid having noisy spaces (kitchen, living room) adjacent to quiet spaces (bedroom, study).

Your garden

Our gardens are a place to relax - with a bit of consideration we can keep them peaceful.

  • power tools in the garden should be used with discretion - avoid strimming or shredding when your neighbours are trying to relax in the sunshine
  • think before installing features in your garden that make a noise - the splashing fountain or tinkling chimes might soothe you on a sunny afternoon, but could drive your neighbours mad at night
  • when entertaining in the garden remember that sound travels. Avoid amplified music outdoors

Alarms

Alarms can be the most disturbing of all noises - it's what they are for.

  • if you have a house or car alarm, leave a key with a neighbour or friend in case it is accidentally set off
  • register the keyholders with the local authority to ensure problems can be dealt with if you are out or away (in London burglar alarm owners are legally obliged to do this)
  • make sure smoke alarms are correctly sited, so they don't go off every time you burn toast. In the kitchen it is better to fit a heat detector