How Do I Quiet a Noisy Basement?
Q: "Our master bedroom is above a basement with a sump pump, water softener, and furnace. Is there a way to block the noise?"
The master bedroom in our house is on the first floor, directly above a large, unfinished basement with a sump pump, water softener, and furnace. Is there any way to block the noise all this equipment makes?
Dwain Penird, North Canton, Ohio
Tom Silva replies: You can't block all the noise, but you can dial it down. How much you block depends on the amount of time and money you can afford to put into this project.
The first (and cheapest) option is to have all the equipment serviced. Tell whoever is doing the work that you want to minimize noise. A little lubrication or adjustment might do a lot of good. You can also cover the ducts with sound-insulating board.
Another option is to isolate the mechanicals in an enclosed, insulated room with a weatherstripped door, but this can get complicated. Local codes may have restrictions about enclosing heating equipment, and you have to provide sufficient space and a door that's wide enough so items can be replaced.
Your best option might be to fill the joist cavities with batts of fiberglass insulation and cover the basement ceiling with 5/8-inch drywall. Before you attach the drywall, screw resilient channel strips to the underside of the joists and cover the strips with sound-deadening acoustic tape. The tape and resilient strips short-circuit the sound vibrations that would otherwise pass from the rigid drywall into the joists. Laying wall-to-wall carpet over a dense pad in your bedroom would also help. All together, this setup should reduce sound transmission by nearly 45 percent, so you ought to notice a big improvement in your bedroom.
There are all sorts of other sound-control products you could use to help minimize noise, such as decibel-absorbing sheets of drywall and acoustic fiberglass batts. But like anything, the quieter you want it, the more it's going to cost you.