A time clock is one of the most common fixtures at home and workplace- and more so in workplaces where the employees are employed on hourly wages. At-home clocks keep us updated with time and wake us up early morning by simply setting the alarm.
But even with alarm clocks playing this crucial role in our lives, the tick-tock sounds they make can be pretty irritating, especially when trying to get some good night’s sleep or focus.
If you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend implementing the below-recommended methods to stop a clock from ticking so loud. But before we get down to that, let’s look at some of the reasons why clocks have noisy tick-tock mechanisms.
Why Do Clocks Tick Loudly?
Ticking is one of the most known features of standard clocks. And while there are quite a number of modern clocks that never make the tick-tock sounds, most of the classic clocks do make the ticking sounds.
But why do clocks tick loudly?
- The clock movement mechanism
- The quality
- Room acoustics
The Clock Movement Mechanism
The leading cause of the ticking noise you hear from a clock comes from the mechanism responsible for moving the clock’s arm. This mostly happens with the “seconds arm,” which moves every second resulting in a repetitive ticking noise.
Some analog clocks have a motor that doesn’t make the clock noisy. Now you’ve probably seen clocks marketed as having quartz movement mechanisms. This type of motor they used to make the clock arm much smoother in a continuous motion making them noiseless.
Digital clocks are silent as they don’t feature the seconds, minute, and hour arms that make noise.
The clock design, as well as material construction, highly influence how quiet or loud an analog clock is. Clocks made of low-quality cheap parts are prone to be louder than their pricier counterparts made of high-quality materials.
To cater to price, cheaper clocks have low-quality movement mechanisms that are mass-produced and prone to defects. These mechanisms rely on a battery-powered pulsed electromagnet responsible for the loud noise as the clock arms rotate.
On the other hand, high-quality models have a motor that provides continuous movement and is much silent.
Additionally, the clock’s outer casing can significantly contribute to the amount of noise your clock produces. Clocks with an outer casing made of plexiglass or plastic only make the clock louder as they amplify the noise compared to glass and wood.
The last thing you should consider if you are looking to make your analog clock quieter would be to consider the acoustics of your room. Your clock-ticking mechanism may sound louder simply because you have it installed against the wall.
The wall is a hard surface reflecting high-frequency sounds to your room, resulting in what your ears would interpret as amplified sound- echoes and reverberations. Echoes from the ticking mechanism will make you perceive the ticking as more pronounced. Reverberation will make your ears perceive the sounds more amplified than they are.
The solution to this problem is just simple. You will need to place a sound-absorbing material behind the clock.
How To Stop a Clock from Ticking So Loud
Now that you know why the clocks tick so loudly, let’s look at some of the best methods you can implement to make your clock quieter.
1. Soundproof the Clock
Modern clocks are fitted with a tiny ticking mechanism at the backside. Compared to traditional clocks with many moving parts and complex gears, most modern clocks have just a motor responsible for turning the hands.
Soundproofing the clock mechanism works best on wall-hanging clocks since alarm and bedside clocks have ticking mechanisms inside the unit.
Take your clock off the wall and locate the clock’s motor at the back, usually where you fit the batteries. Another way to spot the ticking mechanism is through the dial fitted at the rear that allows you to turn the clock hands.
Now that you have spotted the ticking mechanism take a small fabric and cover it. Use a fabric that’s dense enough to help muffle the sound of the ticking mechanism. I used a worn-out piece of my baby’s face towel for mine, and it worked just fine.
Stick this piece of fabric using some packing tape. Make sure to use enough to completely cover the edges of the fabric, as this will help create a good seal around the ticking mechanism.
This technique is one of the soundproofing principles of adding mass to block sound transfer. However, this isn’t the most practical and effective solution for making your clock quieter.
This is because you will only be blocking noise from the back, and you will likely hear a ticking noise from the clock’s face. Secondly, you will have to repeat the process whenever you need to replace the batteries.
2. Oil the Clock’s Ticking Mechanism
Oiling the clock’s ticking mechanism is highly recommended for old-fashioned clocks. If you have a clock with metal gears, lubricating these gears with some clock oil should help keep your clock running smoothly.
You could use some slightly heavier vehicle oil if you’re not looking to decrease the tension between the clock’s gears but increase it.
I would, however, recommend you stick to specialized clock oil such as Liberty Oil to avoid potential problems with the clock’s gears. Avoid using WD-40 unless the gears are rusted and need a bit of degreasing.
WD-40 is not a lubricant but a degrease, and applying it to your grandfather’s clock to lubricate the gears could cause more harm than benefits.
Here is how to lubricate your grandfather’s clock:
- Open the back panel by gently unscrewing the bolts or prying it off. It’s important to note how everything fits throughout the process.
- Find the gears that move the seconds and minute hands and apply a drop of oil to them. Be gentle with the mechanism housing, as using force could push the gears out of alignment.
- Leave the clock for a few hours to allow excess oil to evaporate while the gears turn. Later put everything back. There are tons of videos on YouTube on how to oil your grandfather’s clock, and they should help you get started with this procedure.
3. Place The Clock in A Container
As weird as it might sound, this option is only ideal for bedside alarm clocks or small desk clocks, but it’s very effective. You should ensure that the container in your place of the clock is airtight to prevent airborne noise from the ticking hands from leaking outside the container.
You can get one of your food-preserving jars, stash your clock, and close the lid tightly to solve your problem.
But there is one big drawback to this option. If you stash your alarm clock, you will muffle the sound of the alarm beeping and probably won’t hear it ring. I wouldn’t recommend this option, especially if you are a heavy sleeper who heavily relies on the loud beeping sound of your alarm clock.
4. Modify Your Clock
Growing up, I would mess up with virtually all my dad’s electronic devices, including his wall clocks. I discovered that your wall clock could function quite well even when missing the second hand/arm.
The main reason clocks make loud ticking noises is that the stepper motor (which controls the second arm) has a stronger force at given points but is a slacker at others. The slackness and tension are due to the clocks design, and that’s how it ticks from one minute to the next or one hour to the next.
Upon reaching the slack point, the stepper motor releases tension, which vibrates and is transmitted to the second hand. This is what, in most cases, causes the ticking noise, and that’s why clocks tend to be louder in some seconds.
A simple trick to reduce this noise problem would be to reduce the length of the second hand. Use a pair of scissors to trim it down.
5. Replace the Clock’s Movement Mechanism
As I have mentioned, the main component that causes the ticking problem is the movement mechanism, especially in cheap wall clocks. But there is an effective way to eliminate the ticking problem once and for good.
If you have a clock with a removable movement mechanism at the back, you should be fine if you replace it. Inspect the size of the mechanism in the clock by removing it and taking the measurement of the slot’s thickness. By doing this, you will be able to find an ideal quartz mechanism for your wall clock.
Consider the design of your clock before replacing it. Some clocks have a hanging hook separate from the mechanism, but others don’t. If your movement mechanism has a separate hook, consider getting a simple mechanism like the Quartz DIY 12888 Wall Clock Movement Mechanism. On the other hand, if your clock mechanism has a hook attached, consider getting something like High Torque Long Shaft Clock Movement Mechanism.
To install the mechanism, you need to gently unscrew or pry off the front. Subsequently, gently unscrew the clock hands gently ensuring you don’t bend the thin metal. Unscrew the last nut to remove the mechanism and install the new mechanism.
Below is a video guide on how to install a clock mechanism.
6. Stop the Clock
If you need a temporary solution, then stopping the clock could be your way out of this nightmare. Who needs an alarm wake-up call on weekends? You can remove the batteries from your alarm clock during the weekends, allowing you to relax, focus, or even have some quiet nap time.
7. A Clockmaker May Help
If you aren’t technical enough to implement any of the DIY-mentioned fixes, I highly recommend contacting a clockmaker. The clockmaker will probably know what to do with the clock and might know all the tricks to make it quieter.
8. Get a new Quiet Clock
Why go through all the hassles of making your clock quiet when you can get another without breaking the bank? Furthermore, modern products aren’t designed to be modified at home.
If you have the money, the easiest way to deal with the ticking problem of your clock would be to get a new digital clock like the American Lifetime Day Clock Large Digital Clock. Digital clocks are often easier to read and more stylish and modern.
But if digital clocks aren’t a thing for you, you can consider choosing a non-ticking analog clock. They will give the vintage feel of the old clocks without producing those annoying ticks.
A perfect example is Bramwell Brown’s clocks. They are designed to operate smoothly and quietly. In addition, they display the weather with fanciful art. These clocks only rumble and burble quietly when the theater of moving clouds starts moving due to atmospheric pressure.
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.