Noise Levels

My shop is a detached garage that is situated between our house and our neighbor. I worry that the noise level will disturb the neighbors. What is an acceptable level of noise, and how can I measure it without expensive equipment? What are some strategies I can take to cut down on the noise?

John Brock: This is less a technical problem than a potential social problem. Let your neighbor be the meter. The better friends you two are, the more tolerant he or she will be.

Carol Reed: Noise levels that disturb the neighbors are the ones they complain about. Have they complained? The time you make that noise also has an impact. Running a screaming router when the neighborhood is asleep is a whole lot louder than when everyone else is not home. The first measurement is what the neighbor is experiencing. I’d have someone run a noisy tool and go over to the neighbor to listen. Find it too much, then insulate or pick another time to run that tool.

John Swanson: If the walls are open, you can install insulation in the walls. If the walls are enclosed, you might have to blow insulation in between the studs.

Michael Dresdner: Fiberglass insulation is as good at containing sound as it is at containing heat.

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