Dear PoP – Noise reduction suggestions

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoP,

I recently moved into a new rental, and it turns out that there is a bar across the alley that tends to keep its back door open, allowing noise to flow out and its customers to congregate in the alley to drink/smoke/talk loudly. The noise is annoying during the day, but it makes sleep nearly impossible when it is going on at 2 or 3 in the morning almost right outside the window. I looked online and found some curtain liners that supposedly will reduce the amount of sound that comes in from the outside. I wondered if your readers had any experience with these, or had other suggestions beyond the obvious (using earplugs or a loud white noise machine)?”

Anyone ever find some unique ways to block out noise. No lie, in college I had a roomate who snored so loudly that I wore the earmuffs that you wear at a gun range. Not very comfortable though.

29 Comment

  • I would have suggested new windows which cut my sound in half easily but I guess that is not an option for you.

    What about some tall bushes in pots just outside your window?

    Of course many on here are going to suggest the good neighbor theory.

    Good Luck.

  • Try soundproof windows–they install an extra pane of glass on the inside of the window (leaving a few inches of air space between it and the regular window). You could also install noise-reducing drapes (apparently some can reduce noise by 20 decibels).

  • leave feces in the alley. problem solved. a dead rat might work too.

  • Foam earplugs work great

  • Walk over there and shut their door!

    Seriously, if you happen to live in Ward 1, talk to the owners and threaten to call Jim Graham if they don’t make an effort to keep the noise down. That’ll put things in motion right away.

  • White noise machine found on Amazon can work wonders in these kinds of situations

  • move. its never going to be as good as you hope.

  • Soundproof windows are probably the best option. That said, you could always go the political route and try to get your ANC to put the kabash on the sound level.

  • minor solution, but i watch TV with wireless headphones anyway. partly to avoid contributing to noise – but it allows me to wander around my apartment while watching (listening) and more or less eliminates environmental noise, even if it’s for a short period. earplugs when sleeping – plus vibrating alarm clock?

    • Where did you get them? What brand? Where they hard to hook up to your TV? I’m tragically flawed when it comes to technology.

  • Have your cochlear nerve removed. You won’t be able to hear the noise anymore. You won’t be able to hear anything anymore.

  • Drapes would be a good start, also talking to the bar owners to see if they could at least take small steps to reduce loitering in the alley would be good. For the longer term check with your landlord to see if they’re willing to beef up the windows to provide greater sound proofing (if they haven’t lived in the unit, they might not even know it’s an issue).

  • I live on kind of a noisy street with a bus that stops right outside my front door. I have found that with a window fan on I don’t hear any traffic/bus period – even when the windows are open. Of course, I have newer windows that do a decent job of blocking out sound but the fan really does dampen the noise when the windows are open.

    A box fan works but I also have a heavy duty floor fan that really drowns out noise.

  • The cops. Hanging out and drinking in the alley? Not outside my window.

  • I can’t sleep at all, anywhere, without a fan.

  • If you have an iphone there are several decent white noise apps. Cheaper than a standalone machine.

  • I have a similar situation (only it involves the flightpath from national airport) – i suspected better windows is the answer but I’m a renter and was wondering if there’s a cheaper/more temporary option? (I sleep with a fan already) knave two layers of blackout curtains and can’t tell if they’ve helped or i have gotten more used to it.

  • Ask them to close the door.

    Buy a “Sleep Mate” sleep sound machine.

  • My first thought was shit smell.*

    Jim Graham works too.

    * – Or rotting soy or rotting potatoes (leave either in sealed Tupperware in a warm place for a month, carry to door and open.)

  • Soundproofing a room to any significant degree is a construction job. Anything short of that (e.g. “soundproof curtains”) will have negligible effect.

    Go with the earplugs. The silicone wax earplugs that Walgreen/CVS carry work great and won’t fall out as you toss and turn.

  • outta curiosity. sometimes if people are coming out of a bar into an alley, (as opposed to a courtyard) they might be in violation of their licenses. Especially if its a weeknight and its after 2am..if you see people popping out at like 230, and 3 am..You can always get abra involved. Though you would be that guy who got the bar closed for a few days.. or whatever happens when you violate licenses..

  • I live on the 6th floor of a building overlooking Connecticut. So it gets pretty loud at times with the traffic. I use really thick curtains (though thick velvety drapes would work even better), and a circulating fan and I sleep like a baby now. I looked into the soundproofing windows (from the inside that you can install into a rental), and they were very expensive. I think if you double layer some drapes, it’ll kill a good bit of noise.

  • Out of curiosity, is this the Westpark building in Dupont? I lived there for a year, and it abuts the alley behind Apex. Your complaints sound a lot like the issues I had there. It was constantly a problem with noise, and the building management was extremely unhelpful. I eventually ended up moving because of it.

    Unfortunately, it sounds like you’re going to have to be pesty for anything to get done. The above suggestions are all good, but I’d also recommend that you to look into your building’s tenant association (if you live in a bigger building, that is). They may be able to get you in touch with other tenants who have the same problems with the building. The more people you have behind you, the more forceful your complaints to a councilmember or bar owner will be.

    Good luck getting your noise situation resolved!

  • I rent right on North Capitol, and the noise outside is ridiculous.

    But when I’m inside, there is almost no noise at all.

    You need to talk to construction people to see what they can do for you. The whole facade needs to be evaluated to see where most of the sound is leaking from. At that point, you can start to explore different options, and from what I hear, none of them are cheap.

    That said, drapes, white noise, etc are small band aids that may satisfy you at least for a little while. But I gotta tell you, when I’m in my house and step towards the back, I feel like I’m in the country side it is so quiet and peaceful. It is worth whatever it costs.

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