DIY Home Improvement
28 Annoying Home Noises and How to Eliminate Them Forever
Most homeowners can get used to outside noise, like airplanes, trains and the neighbor kid’s garage band, but those persistent little sounds in our own home are what will drive you crazy. The good news is that most home noises are easy to eliminate without spending hours on repairs or a ton of money. Here is a collection of fixes for the most annoying squeaks, creaks, gurgles and bangs.
Refrigerator noise comes from either the compressor under the fridge, the condenser fan motor under the fridge, or the evaporator fan motor inside the freezer. Open the freezer door while the fridge is running. If the noise doesn’t get louder when you open the freezer, pull out the fridge. Most refrigerators have a condenser fan motor. Unscrew the back cover and listen—you’ll be able to tell whether the noise is coming from the fan or the compressor. The best cure for a loud compressor is usually a new fridge. To replace the fan motor, remove its mounting screws, unplug it and install the new one. Get all the repair tips on a rowdy refrigerator.
Many gas fireplaces use a blower to drive warm air out into the room. They also have a fan speed adjustment switch so you can strike a balance between blower speed and noise level. But if the fan gets loaded with dust or the motor bearings wear, the blower will make a rumbling noise at all speeds. Sometimes it’s possible to remove the blower and clean the fan blades to quiet it. But if the blower still makes noise, it’s time to replace it. Here’s what to do when faced with a noisy fireplace.
If the bath fan in your home is more than 20 years old, chances are it’s pretty loud. A loud fan may be good for masking bathroom noise, but the jet engine roar is downright annoying the rest of the time. Worse yet, your old bath fan may not be moving enough air to keep your bathroom free of mold and mildew. Here’s how to fix a noisy bath fan.
Fix a Noisy Vent Hood Damper
Often a stiff wind will open vent dampers, causing them to periodically clang shut. If the noise drives you crazy, new spring-loaded backdraft dampers ($9 to $30, depending on the size) should solve the problem. Measure the diameter of the vent pipe and order the dampers from a duct supply company (hvacquick.comis one source). Start by replacing the backdraft damper directly above the vent hood. If that doesn’t solve the problem, install a second damper near the wall or roof discharge cap. The second damper will greatly reduce the clanging problem.
Clink, Clink, Clink of the Ceiling Fan Chain
Fix for Rattling Doors: Move the Stop
Fix for Rattling Doors: Bend the Strike Plate Tang
Many door strike plates have an adjustable tab or tang. Some of these tangs can be adjusted in place with a flathead screwdriver. Others need to be removed and adjusted with pliers or an adjustable wrench. The more you bend the tang toward the door, the farther the door has to travel before latching shut.
Fix for Rattling Doors: Fill the Gap with a Bumper
Water Heater Gurgle
Start by shutting the water heater down. Turn the breaker off, and turn the thermostat to “Pilot” if you have a gas model. Shut off the water supply to the appliance and let the water cool. Then hook a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. Put the other end of the hose into a bucket and open the drain valve. Dump the bucket outside so the sediment doesn’t clog your pipes. Keep draining until only clear water discharges. If the tank empties before the water turns clear, open the water valve and allow more water into the tank to further rinse it. Once you’re done rinsing, close the drain valve, let the tank refill and turn the water heater back on. Learn more about this fix here.
Most aluminum soffits fit into a channel mounted to the wall. Sometimes the soffits fit loosely, which allows them to clatter in the wind. Set up a ladder and tap on the soffits to see which ones are loose. Next, insert a length of screen spline in between the soffit and the aluminum channel with a plastic putty knife. The soffits may have been cut too short, so push the screen mold in far enough so it won’t be seen from the ground but not so far that it slides past the end of the soffit. A package of 25 ft. of screen spline is available at hardware stores and home centers.
Banging Cabinet Doors
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who shut cabinet doors, and those who slam them. If you live with a door slammer, consider installing cabinet door dampeners. The piston in the dampener slows the door down before it makes contact with the cabinet. The one shown here is adjustable and installs with one screw in less than five minutes. Your cabinets need to have self-closing hinges for the dampeners to work. You can buy a 10-pack at home centers and online.
Keep It Quiet
Squeaky Door Hinge
Sump Pump Thump
Silent check valves are available at most plumbing suppliers. If you have trouble finding one locally, search online for silent or quiet check valves. Plus: Be prepared for an emergency with this sump pump battery backup project.
Bang! Goes the Toilet Lid
Sump Pump Drip, Drip
If there’s a dripping noise made by water falling from your drain tile into your sump basin, try this: Tie a string to the bottom edge of the drain tile pipe and extended it right into the basin. Attach a washer on the other end of the string and make sure it isn’t so long that the pump gobbles it up. Now water will follow the string instead of dripping into the sump basin.
Jingling Dog Tags
Creaking Floors and Stairs
Floors and stairs should be seen and not heard, but silencing stairs and floors can be a little tricky. To learn ways to quiet them, read How to Fix Squeaky Floors.
Garage Door Rumble
Fix 1: Install Anti-Vibration Pads
Cushion the connection between the opener and the framing with rubber pads. Use heavy-duty rubber washers, cut pads out of an old tire, or buy specially made rubber/cork antivibration pads. You’ll be adding about an inch in thickness, so you’ll need four longer lag screws and some fender washers.
Fix 2: Replace Metal Rollers with Nylon
Nylon rollers are quieter and unlike metal rollers, don’t require periodic oiling. A 10-pack is available online or at garage door suppliers. To install them, lower the door and remove the hinges one at a time.
Beware: On some garage doors, the bottom roller brackets (closest to the ground when the door is closed) are attached to a cable and garage door springs. In this case, you should not remove the roller or bracket without the help of a knowledgeable professional. Removing these parts with the garage door closed could result in rapid discharge of the tension in the spring and any number of safety issues. Learn how to tune up your garage door yourself.
Whistling Duct Grilles
If you have a grille or register that hums or whistles, all you have to do is twist the fins slightly until the noise stops. Pliers will scratch and kink the delicate fins, so use a hinge with strips of tape applied to the inside. Then grab a fin between the hinge leaves and give it a twist. Twisting all the fins so they open a little wider will give the best results.
Fix for Noisy Pipes: Cushion the Pipe Hangers
Minimize the sound by pulling off the straps and inserting strips of felt or heavy fabric under the strap before reinstalling them. You may only have to fix the hot water supply line, because that’s the one that changes temperature the most. These are the 10 most common plumbing mistakes DIYers make at home.
Fix for Noisy Pipes: Spray Foam on Vibrating Pipes
Fix for Noisy Pipes: Replace a Worn Washer
An outdoor faucet with a worn-out washer can make a loud vibrating noise when it’s turned on or off. You can easily replace the washer without removing the entire faucet. First, turn off the water to the faucet. Then use a wrench to remove the retaining nut.
Slide the handle and stem assembly out of the sill cock. Remove the screw at the end of the stem and remove the washer. Buy a new washer that matches the old one at any hardware store. Then reassemble the faucet. Occasionally the washer is fine, but the screw holding it is loose. If so, put a drop of thread-locking sealant (sold at hardware stores) on the threads and tighten it.
Fix for Noisy Pipes: Install a Water Hammer Arrester
Install water hammer arresters, which are available at home centers. An arrester isolates the pocket of air from the water in the pipes with a rubber gasketed piston. The closer you locate the arrester to solenoid valves, the better. The model shown is designed to mount between the spigot and the washing machine feed lines with simple hose bib connections. If necessary, add more in-line arresters in other water pipes near faucets or valves to further reduce hammering. Plus: 12 really important things your plumber wants you to know.
Ducts made from sheet metal can make a popping sound when the furnace kicks on, changing the air pressure inside the ducts. One simple fix is to reinforce the sheet metal by scoring it. Simply take a straightedge and score a large ‘X’ in the center of the sheet metal with a screwdriver. It may take a few X’s in a row to stop the pop.
Put an End to Exhaust Vent Chatter
Attach a few small magnets first and then run the dryer, hood vent or bath fan to make sure the flapper still opens. If the chatter is gone, great. If it persists, add another magnet. Always check that the flapper still opens when it’s supposed to. Once you get the right balance, add a dab of adhesive to the magnets to keep them in place. You can get a 1/2-in. x 30-in. magnetic strip at home centers for a couple bucks.
For noisy plastic vents, try attaching small washers with a dab of clear silicone. Note: These flapper-quieting tips are not for use with gas appliances. Plus: Check out these 100 essential cleaning hacks all homeowners should know.