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Soundproofing Air Vents

Air vents, like windows and doors, are another way for noise to enter a room. If you’re already soundproofing a room, you’ll want to make sure the air vents are soundproofed as well.

I’ve put together a list of suggestions to improve this part of our rooms today. There are various ways to get both effects, whether you wish to completely eliminate ventilation or still have some airflow.

The best part is that you may combine these approaches with any other soundproofing methods you choose. But first, let’s address the most obvious question: how can you soundproof your air vents?

Is it possible to soundproof the vent without obstructing airflow?

To answer this question succinctly, the answer is no. You can’t expect to install soundproofing materials over your air vents without disrupting the flow of air. After all, the more open that space is, the more noise will be able to infiltrate it. The more you try to seal off the room, the quieter it becomes.

Even procedures that are designed to maintain air flowing in and out of the room will impede it slightly. The majority of the noise we hear on a daily basis comes from the air. As you may expect, this means that we’re attempting to limit airflow.

Depending on your preferences and soundproofing objectives, you may choose to completely close the vent. The most crucial thing you can do, like with any other soundproofing endeavor, is to figure out exactly what you want to achieve. In an ideal situation, you’d strike a balance between your audio requirements and the room’s requirements.

For example, closing the vent hole is the ideal option if you want the room to be absolutely silent. However, if the room only has one window, the extra airflow from the vent is required. As a result, you’ll need a solution that decreases noise while still allowing air to flow through the vent. But, as you might expect, saying it is easier than doing it.

This compromise is critical, especially when it comes to airflow vs. quiet. One is not superior to the other. Obviously, I am a firm believer that a pleasant home is one that is quiet. But, because I believe in the importance of fresh air, you shouldn’t have to choose between the two.

Is your air vent allowing more noise into your home than it should?

It will be simple to choose the strategy you want to use once you know what you want from the place you’re working on. To prepare the room with the vent for the task you’re going to conduct, follow these steps:

  1. Clear the space around the vent first.
  2. Get a ladder if it’s high up on the wall or ceiling. Make yourself at home on the floor if it’s lower down. If you believe you’ll be working on it for a long time, you can even get a pillow to kneel on.
  3. If there’s a metal grate covering the vent, you’ll need a screwdriver or a drill with the right bits to remove the screws.
  4. Using a flashlight, examine the inside of the vent after removing the grill. You can also look through the grate to see what’s going on.

But what are some of the signs that your air vent is allowing in more noise than it should from your neighbors or housemates?

The three main reasons for hearing things through the vent are as follows:

  • The form of the duct linking the vents in two different rooms allows sound to travel through. This usually occurs when the vents are directly across from each other, allowing the sound to travel between the two rooms without having to turn any corners.
  • Because there aren’t enough barriers inside the duct to bounce the sound off of, the noise isn’t interrupted. This one, unlike the prior one, is relatively simple to solve, as you’ll discover later in this post.
  • Because it is not composed of very absorbent materials, the air vent is loud. Of course, if you’re searching for sound absorption, metal isn’t the ideal choice.

So, when you’re inspecting your vent, keep an eye out for those potential trouble spots. You’ll know exactly what’s wrong with your air vent and how to fix it this way. It’s going to be a relatively straightforward process from here on out. Still, let’s go over some suggestions for reducing the noise emanating from your air vents.

Soundproofing Air Vents in 6 Easy Steps

Because the simplest and most effective approach to stop noise from entering via air vents is to completely close them up, I’ll start with three options. These options include everything from completely closing the vent to using temporary and removable solutions. After I’ve told you about those, we can talk about some soundproofing options that still enable air to pass via the vent.

1. Completely seal the air vent with drywall.

The first step in permanently sealing the vent is to treat it like a wall. After removing the grate, you can either completely fill the duct or just put in wooden studs at the very beginning. After that, you may either stuff it with insulation or simply cover it with drywall. Finally, use wall base adhesive to seal the area around the drywall piece so it blends in.

After everything has dried, sand the area, clean it, and paint it to match the wall. As you can see in the video below, this technique is both clean and effective, as well as rather simple to implement. If you don’t have much of a budget, however, I recommend trying one of the other suggestions.

Of course, a simpler and sloppier variant of this procedure is to flatten the grate and directly stuff it with gypsum. After you’ve plastered over the grate, smooth the plaster until it blends in, just like they did in the video. Although I’ve seen some individuals use this strategy successfully, I’d much rather do things right the first time. However, if you’d prefer get it over with quickly, there is one option.

A word of caution, though: you’ll only want to do this if the air conditioning is turned off. Condensation will form if the air conditioner is running through the ventilation system. In that scenario, you can modify this procedure by utilizing waterproof materials or by placing a waterproof cover over the studs and insulation.

2. Apply an acoustic sealant to the opening.

You can use an acoustic sealant to stop your vent if you want similar results to what you’d get with drywall and gypsum. I’m not referring to the kind of acoustic caulk you’d use to seal the cracks around your windows. Something like the Great Stuff Big Gap Filler, on the other hand, would be ideal.

Because this is a foam sealant, it expands to fill the area where it’s been applied. It will be airtight and water-resistant once it has dried. You’ll also be able to sand it to blend in with the rest of the wall and paint over it.

You can use this product to fill the entire duct if you want to. However, you should purchase enough insulating foam to completely fill the space you’re dealing with.

Make sure your gloves are on before you start working. If you plan to fill the entire gap, you can next remove the vent covers on both sides of the duct. Then you can fill the area and even replace the vent grates to restore the original appearance of your room. The entire project should take no more than a few minutes to apply, set, and cure.

On the other side, you can only fill the area close to the vent. Because the product is water-resistant, it should be able to tolerate any moisture generated by a running ventilation system. To attain the correct consistency, you can also put the foam in and mix it into the wall or even plaster over it.

3. Use soundproof curtains or blankets to cover the vent.

Of course, soundproofing your air vents is as simple as covering them with soundproof blankets or curtains. I’ve already mentioned how wonderful both of these things are. They’re basically thicker and more densely woven than normal blankets or curtains (although a regular thick blanket will work in a pinch).

While all of these suggestions are more easily applied to wall vents, they might also be used to ceiling air vents. You can nail a normal soundproof or moving blanket to the wall or ceiling if you’re installing it. Grommeted blankets, on the other hand, would be easier to hang as curtains.

Alternatively, you can save time and money by purchasing soundproof curtains. Install a curtain rod above the vent or along the ceiling, and hang the curtain so that it pools on the floor. This will ensure that you are completely covered, as well as thickening your walls. Still, I’d combine this idea with one of the two air vent soundproofing options below.

4. Create a sound maze within the vent.

There are a variety of reasons why you might want or even want fresh air in the room. One of the most obvious reasons for the additional airflow is if the room only has a single small window. If there’s a chance of mold growing in the room, though, you’ll need to keep the vent operational. You can, of course, utilize this strategy for your own purposes as well.

If you’ve never heard of the maze method before, you might think it’s a little strange. However, bear with me. Adding absorbent materials and walls to your vent by creating a maze is an excellent way to add absorbent materials and walls for the noises to bounce off of.

These walls will be attached to the duct’s sides so that the air is forced to travel in a zig-zag pattern. Of fact, this causes the sound waves to bounce several times, causing them to lose speed and dissipate faster. Because air will still be able to pass through, this strategy will result in adequate air flow in the room. However, you’d still get a big reduction in noise.

You’ll Need the Following Materials in Soundproofing Air vents

If you want to give this approach a shot, start by gathering the necessary tools. Being prepared is, after all, half the battle. So, if you want to put yourself in the best possible position for success, you can get:

  • A step ladder if your vent is on a high wall or perhaps the ceiling.
  • A screwdriver or drill with the necessary bits These will be used to detach the vent’s grating.
  • A jigsaw or a wood saw for cutting the boards.
  • Plywood that is no more than half an inch thick. Several boards can be cut to be somewhat smaller than the duct’s width. They must also be slightly longer than half the duct’s height.
  • A strong adhesive, such as Gorilla Wood Glue.
  • A thin acoustic foam, not the kind you’d put on your walls. Instead, you’ll want to go with a slimmer option like the one Silverstone offers. Because their product is only 0.15 inches thick, it won’t take up much room in the vent.
  • To cut the foam, you’ll need a utility knife or scissors.
  • A ruler or other measurement instrument

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a workstation. If you’ve done similar work before, you might be able to operate the saw without causing damage to another surface. Covering your bases, on the other hand, is always a good idea.

Building a Sound Maze: Step-by-Step Instructions

To make a sound maze inside your vent, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the maze walls: Once you have all of your components, measure the duct. They should be narrower but as tall as your duct, as I already stated. As a result, you can use your measuring tape to determine the duct’s measurements, which you can subsequently transfer to the plywood.
  2. Cut the boards: Start with the first one and see if it fits in the duct. If it does, the rest of the plywood can be cut to the same size. The more boards you construct, the more hurdles sound waves will encounter.
  3. Glue acoustic foam to the boards: Using the wood adhesive, adhere your thin acoustic foam to the boards. You can either cut the foam to size before gluing it on or trim the excess once it’s glued on.
  4. Open the vent cover or grill: Now that you’ve built your maze walls, it’s time to open the vent cover or grill. This is where the ladder may come in handy.
  5. Install the first maze wall: How deep into the duct you position your first maze wall depends on how many wood and foam maze walls you have. Apply the glue to one or both sides of the plank and place it inside the duct, holding it in place for a few moments until the adhesive sets.
  6. Make a zig-zag pattern by placing the next component on the other side of the duct. So, if you bonded the first wall to the duct’s left side, you can now glue the second to the right corner. The maze would then have a zig-zag design. Allow at least an inch of gap between each wall – a tighter maze would obstruct airflow more.
  7. Replace the vent grill in its original location.

5. Add a layer of acoustic foam to the vent.

You can use egg crate design acoustic foam to plug your air vent if you already have some on hand. Apply a small amount of 3M spray glue on the flat side of one of the acoustic foam pieces. Then, pressing that piece against another, press it back to back.

After the adhesive has dried, cut the foam to the approximate size of the duct. It’s fine if the piece you end up with is somewhat larger than the duct. The foam will bend slightly and close the gap.

Finally, there’s a third technique to make an air vent plug.

6. Keep the Vent Grate Shut

If your vent lets a lot of noise in, it’s either producing a draft or keeping your space from heating properly. Putting a temporary plug on it, on the other hand, could help with all of these problems.

Making a plug out of the grate cover itself is one technique to do this. Bring the cover to your workplace after unscrewing it. Take measurements from the inside of the grates and transfer them to a quarter-inch thick piece of plywood. Cut the piece to size and place it on the inside of the grate, then tape it in place.

If you want to make this a permanent modification, you can use liquid glue to keep it in place. Temporary solutions, on the other hand, are always preferred until the impacts are known. If AC condensation is an issue, you can even use waterproof adhesive to adhere the wood to the grate and cover the entire board.

If necessary, weatherstripping tape can be applied to the inside edges of the vent cover to ensure that no noise gets through. Finally, screw the cover back into place on the vent. This video will show you how to accomplish it if you’re more of a visual learner.

You’d still have a working air vent with this method. To reverse the situation, simply remove the board from the grate. You can even keep the tape and board on hand in case you need to close the vent again.

Final Thoughts on Soundproofing Air Vents

Hopefully, one of these solutions may help you with your noisy vent issue. Finally, depending on your needs and the needs of the room, you’ll need to choose the best solution.

It’s preferable to completely cover the vent if you’re not using it anymore. If you still require airflow, one of the final few solutions can help you achieve the silent room of your dreams.

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