The Sound of Silence
Noise Control in Your Facility
By Kathy Hosler
Sound affects us in so many ways – whether it’s calm and pleasant, like the beautiful song of a bird as it serenades its mate - or as harsh and annoying as the non-stop bark, bark, bark of an unhappy pet.
Dogs barking and kennel noises are very distracting and stressful to you, your staff, and the other pets in your care. A noisy kennel can drive clients away.
Kennel and daycare operators know only too well how disturbing the excessive noise can become – and so do their neighbors – who may complain loudly about the unwelcome noise.
Controlling noise in your business is a necessity…but where do you start?
There are two different facets to sound control. One is sound absorption and the other is the concept of barrier.
The typical surfaces that are found in kennels and daycare facilities are concrete and metal. They absorb an average of only three percent of the noise of a barking dog. That’s why products that aid in noise reduction are so important to those of us who are in the pet industry.
We spoke to Mr. Frank Tropea, National Sales Manager for the Noisemaster Corp. and the Proudfoot Company Inc., about noise control. He understands the problems that the pet industry faces in this area. His companies have provided products and advice for lots of facilities in the pet care industry including many of the Camp Bow Wow’s.
“Sound absorption deals with the absorption of sound to try and reduce the reverberation time, which is the time that a noise takes to decay down to nothing,” says Mr. Tropea. “If you have a reverb time of five seconds and you want it to go down to one second, you have to install enough absorption material to do that.
“Absorption is expressed by a percentage of how much it absorbs – called a noise reduction coefficient,” he continues. “If you have a sound panel and its noise reduction coefficient is .85 it means that it absorbs 85% of the noise that hits it.”
Transmission loss is another method of noise reduction. Transmission loss is not about lowering reverberation time; it’s about reducing decibels as they pass through mass. If you’ve got 100 decibels of noise on one side of a wall and you hear 50 decibels on the other side of the wall, then the transmission loss was 50 decibels of sound as it traveled through the wall.
“Eliminating echo – that’s what noise reduction is,” says Mr. Tropea. “The shorter your reverberation time, the less echo you have, until you have no echo at all. In the kennel itself, it’s noisy, with the barking, etc. If you can lower the reverb time, you won’t have that entire echo.”
There are many products on the market to help achieve this. Polyethylene baffles are the product of choice for many facility owners. They are inexpensive, they are cleanable, and they absorb 85 – 100% of the sound that hits them. They come in 2’ by 4’ panels that are extremely light in weight, and are very easy to install.
Most of the baffles are class A fire rated and are water resistant. They are hung from the ceiling in rows. The number of rows is dependent upon how much noise needs to be absorbed.
Noise can bleed through to the office areas and other indoor rooms. Noise-controlling wall panels are available in many attractive fabrics and colors. Acoustic ceiling tiles that absorb the noise can be installed in many parts of your facility.
Exposed ductwork throughout your facility allows the noise that hits it to ricochet and amplify. Existing ductwork can be wrapped with sound dampening barrier or it can be replaced with flexible acoustical ductwork.
The outside play areas present a different problem. Controlling the amount of noise that can emanate from them can be a real challenge. But if you don’t, you can be sure that you will receive complaints from your neighbors. And if there’s one thing that you want – it’s happy neighbors.
To prevent that noise from traveling, you can install soundscreen curtains on your existing outdoor fences or walls. These quilted soundscreen curtains combine an absorber with a barrier. The curtains prevent sound from passing through them, and also absorb sound to keep the interior of the play yards a little quieter.
If you are doing a new construction, you can install noise reduction products as you build. Sound barrier products can be placed between the studs behind a sheetrock wall to block noise.
Another unique product you can use when erecting a new structure are SOUNDBLOX® Masonry Units. The Proudfoot Company is the designer of SOUNDBLOX. They have the same compressive strength as standard hollow concrete blocks – but what makes them so unique is their cavity-slot resonator construction that absorbs noise. And, their sound transmission loss (STL) is superior to ordinary concrete block construction. They have 200 manufacturers throughout the country that are licensed to make SOUNDBLOX.
Excessive noise has long been a problem for many pet care facilities. Now, there are many solutions to control it. To obtain the best results, you should consult an acoustical consultant with any questions that you have about reducing the noise in your facility.
They can assess your problems, evaluate your needs, and discuss the products that can correct the issues. Knowing the correct products to install to solve your noise issues will save you substantial money and countless headaches.
Reducing the unwanted noise in and around your facility will make a dramatic difference. It will create a much calmer and pleasant, de-stressed atmosphere for you and your staff, visitors to your establishment, neighbors of your facility, and all the pets you accommodate.
And, when you have solved the problems associated with excessive noise in your facility – you can go into your office, turn on a little Simon & Garfunkle, and enjoy listening to “The Sound of Silence”!