How to Soundproof HVAC Systems
Soundproofing HV/AC systems can be the most challenging because they involve ductwork buried deep in a home’s structure.
Not only does the HV/AC system create noise, it carries noise from one room to another. Its ductwork acts as a path sound travels along, creating a “highway” of noise traffic throughout your house.
One way to treat equipment noise is to reduce the sound at it’s source.
Applying a vibration-damping product, like Vibra Block® Sound Deadening Material, to the interior or exterior surface of the unit will help reduce the noise vibrations the system creates. These vibrations will be stopped at the source and not be able to travel along the ductwork and throughout the house.
- Vibra Block® is a premium, industrial grade sound deadening material. Constructed from a high performance vibration-dampening polymer, it offers excellent HV/AC soundproofing. With its peel-and-place backing, it’s easy to install.
- Vibra Block® is well-suited for HVAC noise reduction because it’s designed to effectively dampen sound on any type of steel — including galvanized steel, stainless steel, plated steel and more.
- Vibra Block® can also be applied to the ductwork itself. Duct soundproofing with Vibra Block® serves two useful purposes. Not only will it quiet the noise, but it will also reduce your energy costs because it offers thermal protection.
If you’re looking to save money, you should also consider that Vibra Block® is an economical method of HVAC noise reduction. You would have to spray an entire surface with a standard sound-deadening spray to get as much sound reduction as covering only 60 percent of the surface with Vibra Block®.
Line Interior of Ductwork
Another way to combat noise being transmitted to other areas of the house is to line the interior of the ductwork with a sound absorber, like Melamine foam. When choosing a product, be sure it’s fire safe for heating units and does not release particles into the air stream.
Melamine is popular as an HVAC noise reduction product because it has high sound absorption and thermal insulation properties and low flammability and smoke properties. Melamine foam is one of the older methods of insulating ducts and pipes, especially in large venues, and it has long been widely accessible as a soundproofer and insulator. Some may prefer alternatives to Melamine foam due to its concentration of formaldehyde. We also recommend Quiet Wrap™ Pipe Soundproofing Wrap. This will significantly reduce noise emitted from waste water and drainage pipes. It’s an industrial grade barrier/foam composite manufactured using a 1/2 lb, high density sound barrier membrane, laminated to ¼ inch acoustic grade polyurethane foam with a peel-and-place adhesive backing.
We also recommend Quiet Wrap™ Pipe Soundproofing Wrap
We also recommend Quiet Wrap™ Pipe Soundproofing Wrap. This will significantly reduce noise emitted from waste water and drainage pipes. It’s an industrial grade barrier/foam composite manufactured using a 1/2 lb, high density sound barrier membrane, laminated to ¼ inch acoustic grade polyurethane foam with a peel-and-place adhesive backing.
Quiet Wrap™ Pipe Soundproofing Wrap is perfectly suited to pipe noise reduction. It works on PVC water pipes or cast iron waste water pipes of any size, it wraps easily around your pipes with a peel-and-place adhesive backing, and its foam component isolates the barrier and dulls vibration sound, which is a large factor in water pipe noise.
RoadblockR™ Dampening Material is also a great product to use for HV/AC soundproofing. It’s a heavy duty aluminum faced butyl material backed with hard gripping adhesive. RoadblockR™ is designed for car soundproofing but actually works well as a duct soundproofer. It is easily applied onto metal ductwork to dampen and deaden sound resonance.
The open road offers some of the loudest and most unpleasant sounds you are likely to experience on a regular basis, so you know a product that works to provide a gentle-sounding ride will be able to control your HVAC noises effectively.
HVAC Soundproofing Products
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel (Natural Blend – 1″x2’x4′)$24.99 – $324.87
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel (Natural Blend – 1″x4’x4′)$39.99 – $239.94
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel (Natural Blend – 2″x2’x4′)$34.99 – $209.94
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel 1″ (Case of 14)$839.86
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel 1″ (Case of 6)$359.94
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel 2″ (Case of 3)$209.97
Echo Absorber Acoustic Panel 2″ (Case of 8)$559.92
Quiet Barrier™ Fiberglass Composite$112.50 – $126.22
Quiet Barrier™ HD Soundproofing Composite$319.44
Quiet Barrier™ HD Soundproofing Composite (w/PSA)$388.65
Quiet Barrier™ LD Soundproofing Composite$154.40
Quiet Barrier™ LD Soundproofing Composite (w/PSA)$223.61
Quiet Barrier™ MD Soundproofing Composite$239.58
Quiet Barrier™ MD Soundproofing Composite (w/PSA)$314.12
Quiet Barrier™ Specialty Composite w/PSA
Silent Running (5 gallons)$496.10
How to Soundproof HVAC Systems
Unlike other soundproofing projects, reducing the noise from your HVAC system comes with a unique set of challenges. Ducts conduct sound throughout the home, so even if you have surrounded your central unit with soundproofing, you can still hear that dull roar in other rooms. You need to stop noise traveling through vents in addition to reducing sound from the central unit. Find out more about exactly how to create a comfortable, quiet home.
Why You Should Dampen HVAC Noise
Dampening the noise of your heating and cooling system may not be your first thought. Some people, though, need to reduce excess noise from any sources in their homes without sacrificing the comfort of central heat or air conditioning. You may identify with some of the more common groups of people who want HVAC soundproofing.
1. Video Producers
Home video production and streaming are more common now than ever. Some people even install soundproofing material on the walls and ceiling of a recording room. But even with these acoustic tiles in place, you could still have noise entering the space from your air vents.
If you ever livestream or record videos from your home, the excess sound from a roaring air conditioning system can reduce the audio quality of your video. In some cases, the noise could make it harder for your viewers to hear your voice. Deadening the sound from the HVAC central unit and the ducts will help you produce more professional videos.
Musical performances, practices and recordings should not have an accompaniment of the dull roar from air ducts. You still need to keep the space comfortable, though. Duct noise control can filter the excessive background sounds you hear, enabling you to get the precise sound you want.
3. Light Sleepers
If you are a light sleeper, you may wake up every time the furnace or air conditioner turns on. If you have a room close to the central unit, you may have even more disrupted sleep as the vibrations from the system and blowing air bring sleep-interrupting sound into your bedroom. To help improve your sleep, you may need to soundproof your HVAC system.
4. Home Theater Owners
It doesn’t matter if you have invested in a formal home theater or a living room with a large television where you enjoy watching movies. Reducing the sound of the air ducts that ventilate the room will preserve the pure soundtrack of the film you’re watching. The last thing you want to hear when watching your favorite movie is the noise of your home’s furnace kicking on and the whoosh of the heated air entering the room. Soundproofing can remove this movie-ruining experience from your life.
You don’t have to identify with any of these needs specifically to need to quiet your air conditioning system. All you need is the desire for a quieter home without the noise from ductwork and the central unit interfering with your life.
Types of Noise You May Experience From HVAC Systems
You may hear different types of noise from your HVAC system. These depend on your proximity to the central portion of the unit and the type of ducts you have. Identifying the sources of these noises will make it easier for you when you begin your HVAC sound-deadening project.
1. Noise From the Central Unit
If you have a furnace, it’s essentially a controlled fire inside a large box. When gas feeds into the heater to burn the fire hotter, you may hear a whooshing noise. Air conditioners may rattle when they cycle on and off. Both of these types of noises can be disruptive for those nearby. During operation, movement of air or the turning of fans in the HVAC system could create vibrations you also hear.
For homes or buildings with HVAC systems in the attic, rooms on the floor below will hear sounds from the unit most clearly. Some homes that don’t have attic space, however, may have a closet somewhere in the home’s living area that houses part of the HVAC system. If this closet is next to a bedroom, say goodbye to quality sleep until you can get soundproofing installed.
When deciding on your noise-reduction needs, keep an ear out for these typical sounds, some of which could indicate an aging machine in need of replacement. After soundproofing your HVAC system, don’t forget to schedule regular checkups of the unit. Since you won’t hear as much from the ductwork, you may not know you have a problem until the system stops working. Regular inspections and maintenance can prevent sudden interruptions of your home comfort. For any service or repairs, always shut off the HVAC system first.
- Slams: Your air filter could be restricting airflow. Clean the filter.
- Rumbles: A restricted air flow to your furnace from carbon blocking the burner may cause vibrations. Clean off the surface.
- Hissing: Leaks from the air ducts will create hissing sounds. Since a slight leak needs an expert, hire a professional for repairing your ductwork.
- Rattling: Loose fixtures or components of the system may rattle during use.
- Popping: The ductwork naturally expanding or contracting from temperature changes shortly after you turn on your HVAC system will cause popping noises.
- Buzzing: Old compressors often make a buzzing sound.
- Clicking: While clicking happens when you turn on your HVAC system, get a repair technician to exam your unit if the sound continues.
- Screeching: Screeching or squealing noises do not mean you have a mouse or pig stuck in your system. The HVAC system probably has a loose belt or a bad motor. Schedule a professional service call to repair the issue.
2. Air Duct Sounds
Air ducts may create sound from air moving through them. If the ductwork has poor installation, parts may even move from the force of the air moving through them. Whether you hear wind-like sounds or vibrations, you need to find a means of quieting these noises.
While HVAC ducts excel at transporting heated or cooled air, they also move sound throughout your home. Unless you have soundproofed ducts, you will never achieve the level of peaceful silence you crave.
How to Soundproof Ductwork and Vents in Your Home
Soundproofing starts with identifying the sounds and their sources. For example, furnace duct noise reduction may require additional insulation in the ductwork to prevent popping from the metal expanding when you turn on the heat. If you have an older unit that sends buzzing sounds through your ducts, you may get some relief from soundproofing ductwork until you can replace the HVAC unit.
While you can alleviate some noises with repair work, you’ll have to silence others through soundproofing. Once you’ve dealt with any repairs, carefully decide how you want to improve the acoustics in your home.
1. Make Repairs
If your noisy system needs replacement or if it has bad parts that need fixing, service or replace the system first. Installing soundproofing around an aging or damaged air conditioner will only double your efforts when you need to replace the system and install new sound dampening material.
2. Learn the Difference Between Soundproofing or Sound Absorbing
If you are in the same room as the noise you want to reduce, you need to install sound-absorbing material on the walls and ceiling. This material cuts down on the amount the sound bounces off walls. By stopping echoes, sound-absorbing material makes a room you are in seem quieter.
For the HVAC system, you want soundproofing materials because unless you’re an actor in a Hollywood movie, you’ve never been inside your air ducts or needed to reduce the echo inside them. Soundproofing reduces the noise you hear from another room, making it the perfect option for quieting noisy HVAC systems and ductwork.
3. Insulate the Ducts With Liners
Lining the interior of your ductwork both adds valuable insulation to make the system more efficient while dampening sound to keep it quieter. Cutting fabric-covered, heat-proof foam to fit the interior of your ducts is a low-cost, simple way to get the insulation and sound reduction you want.
Since foam is such a common soundproofing material, you can find a variety of thicknesses for your ducts. Acoustic ductwork insulation foam helps cut down on echoes inside the ducts to reduce noise, but soundproofing is a better option than sound absorption if you want a quieter home, because the soundproofing material stops the noise from moving through the ducts and walls into other rooms.
4. Cover Unused Vents
If you have a guest room or storeroom in your home that does not need constant heating or cooling, install a magnetic vent cover over the air vent, which acts as an air vent sound damper. Without air flowing through the vents, the room will be quieter. The magnetic cover easily removes so you can occasionally run the air conditioner in the area to prevent mold growth.
Closing off the HVAC system in rooms you rarely use can make the entire system more efficient in the spaces you do need climate control in. However, don’t cover the vents in more than one or two rooms to prevent excessive pressure in the system.
5. Choose Flexible Ductwork Where Possible
The bends and curves in flexible ducts outsmart the sound, keeping it from traveling in a straight line. If you have ductwork you need to replace, install flexible ducts instead for air vent noise reduction. But don’t tear out your existing ductwork to do this. Installing soundproofing in your existing ducts is less complicated than replacing the air ducts. Additionally, flexible ducts can crack or leak anywhere they bend.
If you want to augment your straight ducts, consider installing a sound baffle, also called a sound maze. With plywood and soundproofing foam, you can create bends in a straight pipe that act like a flexible duct without the chance for leaks. When sound travels around the curves, some of it gets absorbed by the foam, reducing its intensity. Try your hand at making one of these mazes on your own if you’re really handy. Otherwise, leave it to the professionals to create and install one in your ducts.
Products Available at Soundproof Cow to Help Soundproof Your HVAC
You don’t have to keep your HVAC system turned off to live in a quiet home. We have the products you need to soundproof the unit and ductwork. The excellent news is, you don’t require installation experience for many of these products. If you can peel off a sticker from a piece of fruit, you can install many of our adhesive-backed products.
1. Quiet Wrap Pipe Soundproofing Wrap
Pipes around your home can be a significant source of the noise. Wrapping Quiet Wrap Pipe Soundproofing Wrap around them can reduce this noise, but did you know this wrap also works well for air ducts? With heat resistance up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use this around both heating and cooling ducts.
A surprising material to use for soundproofing your HVAC system is a product designed for use in cars. Thin and easy to install, RoadBlockR has an adhesive backing with aluminum-covered butyl on the front. Because this lightweight peel-and-stick sound-dampening material usually blocks the noise from road vibrations around your car, it excels at stopping the sound of air vibrating through your ducts.
With VibraBlock Sound Deadening Material Sheet, you can achieve heating duct noise reduction with less material. Though it’s only 0.04 inches thick, this industrial-grade material works hard to deaden sound. You only need 60% of the surface covered with VibraBlock to achieve the same effect as covering the whole surface with standard sound-dampening sprays.
4. Utterly Quiet Fabric-Covered Foam
Lining your ductwork with flame-resistant fabric-covered fireproof foam, like our Utterly Quiet line, will help reduce noise from the air in your HVAC system without risking a fire. With thicknesses ranging from one to three inches, you will find the right level of sound deadening to fit inside the ducts.
This foam works well inside ducts because it resists catching fire, putting off smoke and has a high level of sound absorption. It also resists mildew that could form in the warm, humid environment of furnace ductwork. In addition to providing sound-dampening benefits, this foam also can insulate your ducts, making your HVAC system more efficient by reducing leaks of heated or cooled air.
5. Quiet Barrier
You can apply the highly versatile Quiet Barrier Specialty Composite almost anywhere you need soundproofing. By combining an acoustic foam with our Quiet Barrier LD soundproofing product, you get the maximum amount of sound dampening possible. Thanks to the ruggedness of this material, you can also use it in even the harshest environments. If you have a thunderous air conditioner that you need to quiet, apply the Quiet Barrier Specialty Composite around the unit or ducts.
Make Your Home More Livable With Soundproof Cow
When you need soundproofing for your ductwork, mooove over to our site at Soundproof Cow and see our range of products available. While our jokes may be cheesy, you won’t have a beef with our products or prices. Search for more soundproofing materials from our site to get great prices and the components you need to get a quiet, livable home.