A "quiet" condenser that measures 72.3 dB at 3 feet will measure about 60 dB at 12 feet, according to the inverse square rule (doubling the distance yields a reduction of about 6 dB).
A "quiet" condenser that measures 72.3 dB at 3 feet will measure about 60 dB at 12 feet, according to the inverse square rule (doubling the distance yields a reduction of about 6 dB).

Noisy mechanical equipment can be more than just a nuisance. In many locations, including the New York metropolitan area where my acoustic consulting company is based, building codes place legally enforceable limits on the noise levels produced by air conditioning condensers, backup generators, pool pumps, exhaust fans, and similar units. In response, we’ve developed some basic soundproofing techniques that ensure quieter installations in both new construction and retrofits.

Soundproofing a pool pump is relatively easy: We mount it on vibration isolators to block structural noise and build a complete enclosure around it to block airborne noise. But soundproofing a generator or AC condenser is trickier. Since these units require airflow, you can’t enclose them completely, so you need to equip the enclosure with...

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