Acoustiblok Soundproofing Blog Articles

'Treble' in Paradise: Piano Teacher’s Permit Revoked After Neighbor Complains About Noise

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Nov 29, 2013 7:34:00 PM

Next door, Jay Chester cringes from the sound. For him, it’s a constant barrage of noise — an intrusion on what he considers an otherwise peaceful refuge.

Both residents work from home: Marcus as a piano instructor and Chester as an Internet developer. They also have another thing in common: a shared dining room wall that connects their condominiums.

Coincidentally they both moved into their homes within months of each other in 2008.

The feud between neighbors has been escalating for years. It’s gone from friendly exchanges over the backyard fence to hostile encounters in the street and terse letters written to city officials.

Ultimately the fight led to the city’s revocation of the permit Marcus needs to teach piano lessons from her home.

a1a1a1a1 Blog picBut she’s not ready to give up. She appealed the decision to the City Council, which will decide later this month who will win the battle.

There is only one other permit issued for residential piano lessons in the city, and it has been held since 1999, said Brian Leveille, associate planner.

This is the first home occupation permit issued for home businesses to be revoked in the past five years, said Leveille, who called the situation “quite unusual.”

Both Marcus and Chester pleaded their cases before the city’s Planning Commission in December, which led to a 5-1 vote in support of revoking Marcus’ permit to give piano lessons from her home.

Chester argues that the “continuous cacophony of noise being produced by the grand piano on the other side of the common wall Mrs. Marcus and I share has been a constant nuisance.”

He’s made multiple short video clips — which he titled “piano pollution” — from his home to prove his point.

He also alleges that the continual coming and going of cars as students arrive and are picked up has proved to be a problem in their shared driveway and the nearby, narrow street.

Marcus says she has done everything she can to accommodate those concerns — including asking her clients to park in a specific location directly in front of her garage.

She claims that the cost of soundproofing her home, such as building an acoustical wall, is not feasible.

“On my side of the wall, there is a very large tapestry hanging,” Chester said. “I didn’t put it on my wall because I like tapestries. I went online to look for soundproofing options, and it said they help.”

But it still hasn’t muted the sound Chester is trying to be rid of.

Marcus is now offering to discontinue her use of the grand piano and use an upright piano on which to teach her students.

“It is a personal sacrifice for me as a musician to give up the use of this lovely instrument that I have owned for 45 years, but it is worth it to me in order to resolve the issue,” Marcus wrote in her appeal to the City Council.

Chester said that offer is not enough.

“This is just not the right environment for the business she is trying to run here,” Chester said. “The noise is constant and chronic. This is my home, my refuge, my sanctuary, and I should be able to enjoy it without piano music in the background.”

Piano Noise Blog Calif Text Box bylineAbout The Tribune

Founded in 1869 by District Attorney Walter Murray in what is now Mission Plaza, The Tribune is the oldest continuously operating business in the city of San Luis Obispo and one of the oldest enterprises in San Luis Obispo County.

Tags: neighborhood sounds, sounproofing, music noise, piano noise, neighborhood noise, home noise, Acoustiblok, residential noise

During A Tornado Emergency, Will Your Residential Standby Generator Be A Noise Nuisance?

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jun 7, 2013 8:02:00 PM

Acoustiblok standby generator blog

Residential standby generators may not keep you safe or be important during a tornado, but when electrical power stations and electrical lines are knocked out and hundreds of thousands of homes are left without power, standby generators do make this difficult time more tolerable for as the system is repaired. Standby generators do not run all the time, but when they do run, most are typically loud and emit sound levels ranging from 65 – 100 plus decibels, which often times annoy neighbors who don't have generators and exceed most community noise ordinances.

Being without electrical power after a storm causes increased anxiety to those affected. Living near neighbors that operate loud standby generators without soundproofing will cause increased anxiety and tension during an already difficult situation.  A generator enclosure is the generator's first line of defense against the elements. It’s important to not only keep it in good condition, but also important to have proper soundproofing materials built into your enclosure to absorb the noise and keep it to a tolerable level. Keeping your neighbors up with loud generator noise during power outages may make a normally nice neighbor not so pleasant. 

USA - Tornado Alley of the World

According to Live, in terms of absolute tornado counts, the United States leads the list globally, with an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year. A distant second is Canada, with around 100 per year. Eighty percent of tornadoes are EF0 and EF1 (T0 through T3) tornadoes. The rate of occurrence drops off quickly with increasing strength—less than 1 percent are violent tornadoes (EF4, T8 or stronger).Outside Tornado Alley, and North America in general, violent tornadoes are extremely rare.

 Fujita TORNADO 1 ScaleMother Nature website says that in the United States, tornado season tends to move northward from late winter to mid-summer. In Southern states, tornado season is typically from March to May. In the Southern Plains, it lasts from May to early June. On the Gulf Coast, tornadoes occur most often during the spring. And in the Northern Plains, Northern states and upper Midwest, peak season is in June or July.

The two regions with a disproportionately higher incidence of tornadoes are Florida and an area in the Midwest known as Tornado Alley, a large strip of land going north to south that covers the northern region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, the eastern edge of Colorado, southwest tip of South Dakota and the southern edge of Minnesota.

Florida’s high tornado frequency is the direct result of their daily thunderstorms coming from the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the many tropical storms and hurricanes that affect the Florida peninsula.

In the Gulf Coast region, Dixie Alley refers to West Tennessee, West Kentucky, North Mississippi and North Alabama. These states experience a significantly later tornado season that occurs in the late fall from October through December.

Worst Tornado Outbreak Ever Recorded

The April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak was the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded. The outbreak affected the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States, leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, especially across the state of Alabama. It produced destructive tornadoes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia, and affected many other areas throughout the Southern and Eastern United States. In total, 358 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in 21 states from Texas to New York and in southern Canada. Widespread and destructive tornadoes occurred on each day of the outbreak, with April 27 being the most active day with a record of 205 tornadoes touching down that day. Four of the tornadoes were destructive enough to be rated EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which is the highest ranking possible; typically these tornadoes are only recorded about once each year or less. In total, 348 people were killed as a result of the outbreak.

When the Power Goes OutPower Outages Are Common With Tornadoes

Many severe tornadoes bring destruction to property and to electrical systems in large cities and small communities.  Despite the U.S. tornado warning program, which began in 1957, death tolls – even with a growing population – have steadily decreased. Even with today's technology, there's still no way to control where these violent and destructive tornadoes go and what they will hit.  

Media reports estimated that during the Alabama tornado outbreak on April 27 an estunated 262,000 electric “customers” (individual homes and businesses) were without electrical power. The electric utility industry assumes 3-4 people per customer which translates to approximately 786,000 to 1.4 million people being temporarily without electricity temporarily for a prolonged period of time. It can take anywhere from a few days to as many as 10 days or longer sometimes, depending on the situation and the damage. 

Standby Generators: Remember the Soundproofing

All we can do to combat severe storms is to be prepared before they strike. These storms can develop quickly. Electrical power outages in general are happening more and more frequently not only in the United States but across the world. Having a standby generator system in place can make power outages much less burdensome. 

Today's modern digital economy runs on a clean, abundant, and reliable source of power. Issues related to quality and reliable supply of power is driving up demand for backup residential and commercial generators worldwide. Having a standby generator with an enclosure that is properly soundproofed provides a win-win situation for you and your neighbors. 

Residential gen with barrier and without barrierPower outages trigger standby generator systems to automatically switch to generator power until local power is restored. Your backup power system, which typically runs on your home’s existing natural gas line or by diesel fuel, will start and switch power to your home within 10-20 seconds. In most cases, having a generator installed not only will pay for itself, but it will increase the value of your home by several thousand dollars. The excessive noise pollution caused by standby generators is usually an issue that is learned the hard way by generator owners.

So when you purchase your home standby generator, it's important not to forget about the controlling the noise it will make while running. Soundproofing your enclosure will give you the peace of mind that your neighbors won't be calling the authorities complaining about excessive noise coming from your generator at night. These complaints can lead to expensive fines and citations for violating noise ordinances.  


Tags: neighborhood sounds, generator enclosures, noisy generator, quieting generators, noise fines, generator soundproofing, noise from generator, residential standby generators, tornado safety, disaster preparedness, neighborhood noise, generators, noise recuction, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise abatement, Acoustiblok, noise, Noise absorption

Do Noisy Neighbors Define the Quality of Your Life?

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Sep 22, 2011 1:24:00 PM

barking dog, noise barrier, soundproofing, noisy neighbors  noisy neighbors, soundproofing, noise barrier fence

 As the old saying goes, good fences make good neighbors. Unfortunately, life with noisy neighbors is more complicated than that. Is the fence on the right side of the property line? Are there any overhanging branches or roots sneaking under the fence? Is there a dog barking constantly, or at odd hours behind that fence?

“Neighbors really define your quality of life,” says Emily Doskow, a lawyer and co-author of “Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise” (1991, updated 2011, Nolo). Living with a noisy neighbor  can be incredibly wearing and turn a peaceful community into a battleground.

Additionally, with more people working from home today, daytime sounds that may once have gone unnoticed can create high levels of tension.

In most suburban neighborhoods, barking dogs are the worst noise offenders. Craig Mixon, a Northern California homeowner, became so bothered by barking dogs in the neighborhood that  he started, a web site that offer resources for others who are dealing with the same problem.

Mixon, a master dog trainer, tried talking to neighbors who owned the offending dogs, even offering to train the dogs for them. Nothing worked.

Regulations about barking dogs or other noise from neighbors vary according to town. In some cases, they are covered by noise laws, in others by nuisance laws.

Once-friendly neighbor relationships can be torn apart by noisy dogs. In Mixon’s community, one neighbor put their dogs outside, often all day, in a lawn surrounded by an invisible fence, which offered no noise barrier when the dogs began barking. Several neighbors approached the dog owners gently to ask that something be done, to no avail.

One neighbor did call town officials to see what could be done, but was told that noise laws applied from dusk to dawn, which may work in the winter, but not so well in the summer when days are long and nights are short. And she didn’t feel comfortable complaining because the town would take complaints only from people who gave their names.

“Towns need to have better dog laws,” she said.

In some communities, animal control does not address neighbors’ disputes over barking dogs. Ordinances usually cover only licensing, what type of animals you have (no pigs or roosters, for instance), leash requirements and the like.

While power tools and machinery are allowed on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with the exception of emergencies) barking dogs usually fall under the unnecessary noise regulation in suburban/residential communities. In other words,  noise that menaces the health or disturb the peace and quiet are prohibited any time of the day or night.

In some communities, fed-up neighbors are getting creative when it comes to taking matters into their own hands (legally).  Barking Dog Atlas, ( for instance, is a website created by one fed up homeowner that invites people all over the U.S. to anonymously post a photo, video link, and the offending neighbor’s name and address

Of course, as the first step in any neighborly problem, it may help to either speak (nicely) to the neighbor or, to avoid discussing it directly, leave a pleasant note. This may seem obvious, but too many people lose their temper right away. Try to give the neighbor the benefit of the doubt, even if it seems ridiculous. Try and assume everyone wants to be as good a neighbor as you are.

The second step would be a note or call stating that the intention is to work the problem out with the neighbor directly.  Heavy-handed threats of calling the police or animal control should be last options, when all else fails.

Suggesting mediation is also an option. Community mediators are available in most towns, and often the police know how to contact them.

Finally, if there is still no response from the offenders, a warning should be issued to the neighbor that you will go to small claims court or seek redress elsewhere. The trouble is, it’s often not easy to prove, or get the authorities to resolve the problem.

“Some noise laws are distance-based and some are decibel-based,” says Les Blomberg, director of the nonprofit group Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. “Ideally, noise regulations should set a clear line for neighbors — this is allowed, this isn’t.”

But often that isn’t the case.

Sometimes the best route may be a path of least resistance. A noise barrier fence or sound deadening material strategically placed in the yard or home can save a homeowner months or even years of turmoil with a noisy neighbor, provide the peace and privacy that everyone seeks in their home environment, and maintain some semblance of peace with the neighbors.


Tags: neighborhood sounds, noise ordinances, noisy neoghbors, barking dogs, soundproofing fence, sound barrier, soundproofing, noise barrier, noise, soundproofing material