Q. My neighbor has a noisy through-the-wall air conditioner that runs day and night. So that I could get a better night's sleep, I thought I would offer to build him a soundproof box he could place around the AC unit, before I resort to more drastic measures. Is it possible to build a simple structure that will reduce noise, provide the necessary ventilation, and be weather-resistant? The unit is located below a glass-block wall, on the first floor above a concrete walkway with ample space around it.

A. Fernando Pages Ruiz, a building contractor in Lincoln, Neb., and the author of Building an Affordable House, responds: Unfortunately, you cannot build a soundproof enclosure of any kind that would also provide adequate ventilation for the AC unit. Noise travels through air, so by definition a soundproof enclosure would have to be airtight.

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