Do you find the noise from your furnace closet or room bothersome? A loud furnace can be a real nuisance, whether it’s the rumbling of the furnace itself or the whooshing sound of the air rushing through the vents. The good news is that you no longer have to put up with it. Soundproofing your furnace closet or room is a straightforward and cost-effective way to enjoy your home’s quietness.
In this blog post, we will guide you through simple, easy-to-understand steps to soundproof your furnace closet or room. You don’t need to be a DIY expert or spend a fortune on professional soundproofing materials to make a significant difference. With a bit of time and effort, you can create a more tranquil living space and say goodbye to the intrusive noise of your furnace. Let’s get started.
What is a furnace room/Closet?
A furnace room is a designated area within a building intended to house mechanical apparatus. These spaces vary in size, from compact closets meant for a single furnace or boiler to spacious chambers designed to accommodate central heating and cooling units and associated equipment. Furnace rooms might necessitate special design considerations or adhere to building code requirements due to their inherent safety concerns.
In residential contexts, a furnace room is typically a small, inconspicuous closet tucked away in a corner of the house. It primarily houses a furnace or boiler, sometimes accommodating a water heater and an electrical panel. In some cases, additional space might be designated for other appliances, such as a washing machine or a laundry sink. Residences lacking a separate furnace room, heating equipment is often installed in the garage or kitchen.
In commercial or industrial buildings, the equivalent of a furnace room is often called an engine or mechanical room. These spaces are usually quite spacious to accommodate the extensive mechanical equipment required for such structures. A commercial furnace room houses heating and cooling systems and all the associated piping and duct terminations. These rooms also house control panels for HVACs and systems for fire protection, including sprinklers and fire alarms. These rooms often double as makeshift offices for janitorial and maintenance staff.
How Do You Soundproof a Space? Soundproofing Concepts
Soundproofing is the process of reducing or eliminating sound transmission from one area to another. Maintaining peace and privacy is essential in various situations, such as homes, offices, recording studios, and commercial buildings. Here are some key soundproofing concepts and techniques:
- Mass: Mass is one of the fundamental principles of soundproofing. Adding density and thickness to walls, floors, and ceilings can help block sound. Materials like concrete, brick, mass-loaded vinyl (MLV), and multiple layers of drywall are commonly used to increase mass.
- Damping: Damping involves reducing vibrations and resonance in materials. Damping compounds like Green Glue can be applied between layers of drywall to absorb sound energy and prevent it from transmitting through walls.
- Decoupling: Decoupling involves isolating one surface from another to prevent the transfer of vibrations. This is often achieved using resilient channels, sound isolation clips, or acoustic hangers to separate walls and ceilings from the structural framework.
- Absorption: Sound absorption materials, such as acoustic panels, foams, and fiberglass insulation, reduce sound reflections within a room. These materials absorb sound energy and prevent it from bouncing back into the space, reducing echo and reverberation.
How to Soundproof a Furnace Closet/ Room
To soundproof a furnace closet or room, you must follow the above concepts, which include adding mass, decoupling, damping, absorption, and sealing all the gaps and cracks.
1. Seal All Gaps and Cracks
Sealing gaps and cracks in your furnace room or closet will help reduce sound transmission and is essential for several reasons, including energy efficiency, safety, and maintaining indoor air quality. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to seal these gaps and cracks effectively:
Materials You’ll Need:
- Caulk gun and caulk: Use high-temperature silicone or latex caulk for smaller gaps and cracks. For larger gaps, consider using expanding foam or fire-rated caulk.
- Weatherstripping: This is used for sealing gaps around doors or windows.
- Insulation: Fiberglass or foam board insulation can be used for larger gaps or openings.
- Safety gear: Wear gloves, safety glasses, and a mask to protect yourself from caulk fumes and insulation materials.
Sound can find its way through openings of any size, so if you’re committed to improving your soundproofing project, ensure that you meticulously address all potential gaps. This encompasses crevices between sections of drywall, any cracks in the wall, and openings where fixtures are attached.
Identify and seal all the openings within the room using acoustic sealant. Unlike standard sealants, acoustic sealant maintains its elasticity, making it less susceptible to developing cracks. Additionally, it possesses superior sound-absorbing properties compared to regular sealants.
Sealing any gaps around HVAC mounts is especially crucial, as these commonly serve as channels for vibrations that can penetrate the walls.
2. Add Mass to the Furnace Closet/Room
Adding mass is a fundamental concept in soundproofing, and it can be particularly important when soundproofing a furnace room. Furnace rooms often generate loud noises from heating and cooling equipment, which can disturb occupants in adjacent rooms. Here are some soundproofing concepts related to adding mass in the context of a furnace room:
- Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV): Mass-loaded vinyl is a dense, flexible material that is highly effective at adding mass to walls, ceilings, and floors. You can install MLV sheets on the walls or ceiling of the furnace room to reduce sound transmission. Make sure to seal seams and edges properly for maximum effectiveness.
- Drywall Layers: One of the simplest ways to add mass to walls is by adding extra layers of drywall. Double or even triple layering of the drywall can significantly increase the walls’ mass and sound isolation properties. Use damping compounds or acoustic caulking to reduce sound leaks through seams and joints.
- Mass-Enhanced Doors: Furnace room doors are often a weak point for sound leakage. Replace the standard door with a solid core or mass-enhanced door. These doors are heavier and denser, providing better sound isolation. Proper weatherstripping and door sweeps should also be installed to seal any gaps.
- Mass in Ductwork: Sound can travel through ductwork, so adding mass to the ducts themselves is essential. You can do this by wrapping the ducts in mass-loaded vinyl or using specially designed acoustic duct liners.
- Mass for Windows: If the furnace room has windows, consider replacing them with double or triple-pane windows with thick glass. This will add mass and improve the sound insulation properties of the window.
3. Decoupling Furnace Closet using Resilient Sound Clips
Decoupling involves physically separating both sides of a wall to reduce sound transmission through vibrations. Here’s a straightforward illustration of decoupling two drywall panels.
Sound isolation through decoupling is typically achieved using resilient sound clips, resilient channels, or specialized framing techniques such as double studs or staggered stud walls. Sound vibrations travel more efficiently through material connections rather than open spaces.
For instance, sound can pass from one side of a wall to the other through the drywall and framing. To prevent this transmission, acoustic decoupling methods reduce the number of connections, such as using resilient sound clips or completely interrupting the sound path through specialized framing.
- How to soundproof a closet for music practice/ recording
- HVAC noise reduction definitive guide
- 13 ways on how to quiet a noisy furnace blower
- Top 7 anti-vibration pads for air compressor and other appliances
- How to stop vibrations through floor?
4. Soundproof Furnace Closet Door
Soundproofing a furnace closet door is crucial for minimizing noise disturbance in your living space. Furnaces can produce considerable noise, which can be disruptive if the closet is close to bedrooms or common areas. To effectively soundproof the door, start by sealing any gaps in the door frame using weatherstripping to prevent sound from escaping.
Install an acoustic door sweep at the bottom of the door to block sound and drafts. Cover the door with Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV) for added mass, and attach acoustic panels inside the closet door to absorb and diffuse sound waves. If the current door is hollow, consider replacing it with a solid core door for better sound insulation. Finish by applying acoustic caulk around the edges of the door frame and any gaps.
Combining these soundproofing techniques can significantly reduce noise leakage from your furnace closet, creating a quieter and more comfortable living environment. Remember to assess your closet door needs and tailor these methods for the most effective soundproofing results.
5. Install Anti-Vibration Mounts
Anti-vibration mounts, also known as vibration isolators or shock absorbers, are mechanical devices designed to reduce or isolate vibrations and shocks in various applications. While they reduce vibration transmission, these mounts are also used to protect sensitive equipment, structures, and machinery from vibrations’ damaging effects and improve overall performance and comfort.
How they work: Anti-vibration mounts provide a flexible connection between the vibrating source (e.g., machinery, engines, motors) and the structure or equipment that needs to be isolated from the vibrations.
They typically combine elastomeric materials (such as rubber or synthetic polymers) and metal components. The elastomeric material acts as a dampening medium, absorbing and dissipating the energy generated by vibrations or shocks. The metal components provide support and stability while maintaining the flexibility needed for isolation.
6. Relocate it to another locate
To avoid all the hustles of soundproofing your HVAC or furnace closet, you can opt to relocate these equipments far from your house- let’s say, set them up in your backyard. This can significantly ensure that no noise leeches into your living space.
Unfortunately, you have no other option but to soundproof the space, especially if you live in an apartment or a rented unit with no structural modifications.
7. Soundproof the Furnace Closet Floor
Besides using anti-vibration mounts, you can soundproof the floor using floor underlayments. Soundproof floor underlay, often referred to as acoustic or soundproof underlayment, is a material installed beneath flooring materials to reduce the transmission of sound, both impact and airborne.
In addition to soundproofing, rubber underlayment can provide thermal insulation, helping to maintain a consistent room temperature and potentially reducing energy costs.
Some of the common materials you can use to soundproof the furnace/HVAC closet floor include:
- Cork Underlayment: Cork underlayment is made from natural cork material and is known for its sound-absorbing properties. It’s environmentally friendly, provides good insulation against impact and airborne noise, and is often used under hardwood or laminate flooring.
- Foam Underlayment: Foam underlayment is available in various forms, including polyethylene, polypropylene, and acoustic foam. It’s lightweight, affordable, and easy to install. While it provides some sound insulation, it’s less effective at reducing impact noise than cork or rubber underlayments.
- Rubber underlayment is a soundproofing material used beneath flooring to reduce noise transmission and improve acoustic performance. It is commonly made from recycled or synthetic rubber materials and is known for its excellent impact noise reduction properties.
Soundproofing a furnace, HVAC closet, or room can significantly improve your home’s comfort and tranquility. Following the soundproofing techniques discussed in this guide can reduce noise pollution, enhance energy efficiency, protect your furnace, increase property value, and ultimately create a more peaceful living environment.
These methods range from simple, budget-friendly solutions like sealing gaps and adding insulation to more advanced options such as acoustic panels or mass-loaded vinyl, allowing you to tailor your approach to your specific needs and budget.
Investing time and effort in soundproofing brings immediate benefits in terms of reduced noise and contributes to long-term comfort, energy savings, and potential property value appreciation. So, whether you’re annoyed by a noisy furnace or seeking a quieter living space, soundproofing your furnace HVAC area is a worthwhile endeavor that can transform how you experience your home for years.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.