DIY Home Improvement
23 Annoying 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.
Clink, Clink, Clink of the Ceiling Fan Chain
Even if a ceiling fan is perfectly balanced, the breeze from the fan can cause the pull chain to smack up against the light fixture. Solve this problem by removing the chain and sliding a 1/4-in. plastic tube over it. You can buy the tubing at home centers.
Fix for Rattling Doors: Move the Stop
A door will rattle when there’s too much space between the door and the door stop. The solution is to reduce or remove the gap. Here’s one solution: Knock the door stop flush with a hammer and a scrap piece of wood. If the stop is more than 1/16 in. out of whack, you may end up with a noticeable unfinished spot where the door stop used to be, especially on painted doors. Add a couple of brads or finish nails to the stop if it’s a door that regularly gets slammed shut.
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
A simple fix for a noisy door is to install a cabinet door pad/bumper on the part of the door stop that contacts the door. Felt, cork or rubber will all work fine. Cabinet bumpers vary in thickness, so check out the size of the gap between the slab and the stop before you head to the home center. You’ll find the bumpers near the cabinet hardware.
Water Heater Gurgle
Popping or gurgling coming from your water heater is a sign of excessive sediment buildup in the tank. The sound is caused by steam bubbles percolating up through the muck. On a gas water heater, the sediment creates hot spots that can damage the tank and cause premature failure. On an electric water heater, sediment buildup can cause the lower heating element to fail. So flushing offers a payback in lower energy bills and extended heater life.
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.
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.
Is that dripping noise in your downspout forcing you to keep your bedroom window closed at night? Tie a synthetic rope onto one of the gutter hangers and run it down into the downspout. Drops of water will cling to the rope and flow down instead of plummeting the whole length of the downspout and causing that irritating drip. Adding a rope does restrict the water flow, so this may not be the best option if your gutter is prone to overflowing or gets clogged easily.
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
Washers and dryers transfer vibrations to floors and telegraph noise throughout the house. The solution is to set their feet on rubber anti-vibration pads (available at some home centers and online).
Sump Pump Thump
Waste lines from sewage ejectors and sump pumps include a check valve to stop wastewater from flowing back into the basin. When these valves shut, they can make a thud loud enough to be heard throughout the house. To quiet them, replace the old check valve with a “silent” check valve. Turn off the pump and loosen the clamps to remove the existing check valve. Be prepared for the water draining down from above the valve. Install the new valve and you’re done.
Silent check valves are available at most plumbing suppliers. If you have trouble finding one locally, search online for silent or quiet check valves.
Bang! Goes the Toilet Lid
Toilets are responsible for a whole lotta noises. Slowclose toilet seats work great at stopping the ‘clank’ when lowering the toilet seat, but if you still hear the noise of the lid hitting the tank upon opening, here’s what you can do. Put a vinyl bumper on the lid of the toilet tank. A toilet seat with a slow-close lid and vinyl bumpers are available at home centers or online.
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
If the constant jingling noise from your dog’s tags drives you crazy, check out the Quiet Spot Pet Tag Silencer. It’s a little neoprene jacket with Velcro straps, and it even has a reflective logo. One will last about a year on an active dog. These silencers are available at pet stores and online.
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. Pretty Handy Girl has a good tutorial to follow here.
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.
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
Pipes expand and contract when they heat up and cool down. This can cause them to tick, creak and groan as they slide by the hangers or straps holding them in place.
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.
Fix for Noisy Pipes: Spray Foam on Vibrating Pipes
Supply lines can vibrate when water is running through them. Those vibrations can be amplified through the framing. To fix the problem, isolate the pipes from wall and floor framing with expanding foam. If you can reach the offending area, spray foam between the wood and the pipes. If the area is sealed, drill a small hole and squirt in some expanding spray foam. Don’t overdo it though; too much foam could literally bow out your drywall. Patch up the hole when you’re done and touch it up with a little paint.
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
Solenoid valves, like the ones in dishwashers, washing machines and water softeners, shut off almost instantly, which causes a ferocious CLUNK in your plumbing. Aside from the noise, this also puts strain on hoses and fittings. Hand-controlled faucets usually don’t cause as much hammering because the shutoff is more gradual.
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.
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
When the wind blows just right, the flapper on an electric dryer or exhaust fan vent can open and close, causing a chattering noise. One solution is to put a little weight on the flapper, enough to resist the wind, but not too much or the flapper won’t open when the dryer or fan runs.
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.