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Keeping Your Cool Without The Headache: How To Quiet Your Central Air Conditioning

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A common complaint from homeowners with central air is that the compressor makes a lot of noise. Depending on where you've placed the compressor outside the house, you might find that the compressor noise even disrupts your sleep at night or bothers your neighbors. If you're looking for ways to quiet your compressor, you're in luck. Here are some ideas for evaluating the noise level and adding some sound-blocking buffers around the unit.

Assessing the Compressor Noise

Just like most noises, air compressor noises are measured in decibels. Some air conditioning systems can have a decibel rating of 50 or more. It's important to consider the decibel rating of your compressor when you're thinking about sound buffers. The quieter the compressor, the better since prolonged exposure to loud noises can be damaging to your hearing.

Quieting the Noise

Luckily, you don't have to go out and buy a whole new compressor just because your central air makes a lot of noise. Here are a few options for building a noise barrier and quieting the racket:

Acoustic Wrap: Acoustic wraps are a quick and easy solution for quieting noisy compressors. Also called a sound blanket, you can wrap them directly around the compressor to reduce vibration and noise. Most acoustic wraps are created from a Teflon material, but they aren't airtight. The air flow through the wrap ensures that the compressor doesn't overheat. If you're thinking about investing in a wrap like this, talk with a local HVAC contractor to find out what your options are. You'll even want to consider professional installation since you have to open the cabinet and place the wrap directly over the compressor itself. When you're looking for a quick and easy solution, this may be the option for you.

Noise Barrier: In addition to the acoustic wrap, you may also find that you want to set up an external noise barrier. There are several different ways to do this depending on what works in your yard.

  • Fence – One of the most effective ways to create an external sound barrier is to build a thick fence as an enclosure around your compressor and central air cabinet. A fence crafted from solid wood with soundproofing foam on the inside will help keep the noise from transferring beyond the space.
  • Greenery – Shrubs, bushes and trees make natural sound barriers around many things, including your air conditioning compressor. Install a thick row of trees or ornamental shrubs around the air conditioning structure. Put them just beyond the boundary of the concrete pad so that you don't disrupt the stability of the concrete. If you add the sound blanket with this type of barrier, you may be able to almost eliminate the sound transfer outdoors.
  • Soundproof Mat – For compressors installed indoors, consider placing a mat on the floor that's designed to absorb vibrations ad sound. This will help keep the vibrations and ambient noise from transferring into the next room. Sometimes, you may even want to add some soundproofing material on the inside surfaces of the walls in the closet or room where the compressor is installed. The more you can soundproof the room, the less issue you'll have with ambient sound.

You don't have to resign yourself to living with the noise and sleep disruptions just to have central air conditioning in your home. In fact, with the ideas presented here and the help of a professional HVAC contractor, you can try several different methods to quiet the sound coming from your compressor. If you live in an area where these options are hard to implement or your air conditioning system is very old, you may be better off buying a new, quieter system. Your HVAC specialist can help you determine what's going to be the most cost-effective choice based on your current situation.