HVAC systems help create comfortable spaces for our homes, work environments and educational institutions. But the noise they generate can have a negative impact on the overall environment of a space; unless the noise is controlled.
The purpose of a space needs to be considered in order to determine what steps must be taken to control the noise. Published standards such as the Noise Criteria curve define what levels of noise are considered appropriate for various spaces. For example, what might be considered an appropriate noise level for a restaurant, would not be considered appropriate for a private hospital room.
An understanding of what causes HVAC system noise is necessary if you are going to have any hope of controlling it. One of the sources of noise is air flow. As air flows through the ductwork, around corners and out of vents it causes noise. Another source of noise is the HVAC equipment itself. The equipment may cause vibrations that are transmitted through the building structure or through the ductwork.
These consideration should be addresses early in the design of new structure. The location of HVAC equipment should be considered along with the purpose of rooms. It might be more cost effective to change the location of a room rather than take extraordinary steps to reduce the noise at a given location. The paths ductwork make and the noise along those paths is an important design element as well. Fixing problems caused by poor planning in this regard will be considerably more expensive than designing for HVAC noise control in the first place.
One of the manufacturers of the products we represent is Sound Seal. Although our personal knowledge and experience in resolving these issues is substantial, Sound Seal serves as a great technical resource for us in helping ensure problems are being addressed in the most appropriate manner. They have on their staff professional engineers who are knowledgeable on many aspects of noise and vibration control, and are available to us if we have a need for their assistance. One of their engineers, Mary Riemenschneider recently wrote an excellent article on this topic which was published in the September Issue of Insulation Outlook, an Industrial Insulation Group publication.
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