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Noise & vibration in condo - HELP

  1. Nov 29, 2013 #1
    Noise & vibration in condo - HELP!!!

    Hi there, I just bought a newer condo (5 years old) and have noise and vibration coming from the mechanical/boiler room located on the first floor beneath my unit. The property manager has had a plumber come in to put dampeners on the pipes, and moved the pipes, previously hung from the ceiling, to a nearby wall. That wall is next to the elevator, which is next to my suite. Property manager and condo board are not willing to do anything else.

    To describe - it's a constant roaring noise with strong vibrations in the floor and along the shared wall with the elevator. Two of my rooms (including a bedroom) are unusable.

    I can't afford to hire a sound/acoustical engineer. I know engineers are very smart, and any help/direction/tips to silence the noise (or where it might be coming from) is appreciated!

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2013 #2


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    Hi jedi_jenn! Welcome to Physics Forums!

    There are lots of qualified engineers and scientists here that can help you understand this, but we will need some more detailed information. I know you can't afford to hire a sound/acoustical engineer. Here are a few questions I have to start this process. Surely others here will want to ask you questions, too.

    1. Have you invited your property manager into your place to let her feel and hear the vibrations and noise?
    2. Do you have a sound recorder of any kind? Try to record what you are hearing (the trial judge would want this also).
    3. Vibrations may be visualized: place a shallow pan of water on the floor and against the wall and illuminate it. Any mechanical vibrations ought to show up as waves/ripples on the water surface. Photograph that (with a ruler for scale).
    4. Any way you can contact the previous occupant? Why did they sell it? Did they experience the same noise and vibration?
    5. The "constant roaring noise" needs to be analyzed to find it's source. Is it really continuous? Is it windy there? Elevator cables may "strum" if the shaft has strong air currents.
    6. Is there a college or university nearby? Go and chat with some professors/teachers there. Who knows, one may decide to take on your noise/vibration problem as a challenge for her students!

    Awaiting more information from you.
  4. Nov 30, 2013 #3


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    I don't know how things work in the USA, but in the UK the best action would be contact the environmental health department of the town or city council. They would visit the and if the situation was outside the regulatory limits (which it appears to be) they would then take action against the building owner. Cost to you (both in terms of money and hassle), zero.

    From an engineering point of view, if you have vibrations getting into the structure (which seems like your description of vibrating floors and walls) the only real fix is at the source, not by trying to damp out the effect in your rooms. Most likely the boiler room machinery needs to be re-installed on proper vibration isolators, or even some new structural beams put in place to support it.
  5. Dec 1, 2013 #4
    Thank you - I really appreciate that you both took time to respond!

    Bobbywhy - here are the answers to your questions:
    1. Property manager has heard it. He and his plumber have tried some “fixes” (although I'm not always told what they do, so I can’t give more information here). I receive a voicemail telling me their latest attempt has fixed it (they don't actually check my suite, so when I come home and there is no difference in sound/vibration I have to call them back to let them know). I would say that even with these “fixes” the sound/vibrations have decreased by only 10%...only a very slight improvement. They are still very much there.
    2. I will try to record it - good suggestion!
    3. I took a photo, can I upload it to this thread?
    4. I will try contacting previous occupant. Not sure if they will actually disclose problem. When I bought, I was told they were selling because they wanted something bigger.
    5. The noise is continuous, much like an air conditioner. I hear it 24/7 now that it's winter (in late summer, I would only hear it after approximately 10pm, when the heat would kick in. It’s not too windy here, the wind mostly comes when the temperature drops below 0 C. We had a range of temperatures in fall & early winter this year (+10 to -15 degrees C, or about +15 to +50 degrees F), so moderate wind.
    6. I will try to talk to some professors at the university. Hopefully one will be willing to listen!

    AlephZero - I'm in Canada, I will ask around to see how it works here. The plumber put what looks like giant drink cozies on the pumps (not sure if these are dampeners or isolators). They are about 1” inch.

    The latest attempt to fix it was because the noise was coming from the "combustion motor blower on the make-up air fan" (quote from property manager who said they identified it, ordered a part and replaced it).
    When you say "boiler room machinery needs to be re-installed on proper vibration isolators, or even some new structural beams put in place to support it" - is this a super expensive, elaborate fix? That scares me, as it
    sounds like it might be a major undertaking.

    Please forgive me if I invert the words pipes/pumps and if the terminology isn't up to engineering par!
  6. Dec 1, 2013 #5


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    Hm.... that sounds like covers to stop noise travelling through the air. But from what you said, the noise is vibrating the the walls of the building through the bolts holding down some of the machinery.

    Impossible to tell, over the web. It could be as simple as mounting the offending device on something like these http://www.novibes.com/Products&productId=69 [Broken] or
    http://www.novibes.com/Products&productId=65 [Broken], up to a major rebuilding job. But you need to analyze the problem and select the right fix, not use trial and error.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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