Why You Should Be Adding Acoustic Isolation to Your Specifications

Acoustic isolation pipe supports are the key to preventing noise problems stemming from vibrations.

by Jim LeStage, CSI, CDT

To go through a building’s piping system and achieve 100 percent acoustic isolation is rare for a plumbing engineer. Many times, these noise-insulating products are left off project specs because of the building owner’s or developer’s lack of awareness or the perceived high cost; yet after construction is complete, building owners often hear complaints about unwanted plumbing noises coming from drainage systems, fixtures, valves, pumps, and other equipment that could have been avoided.

While the types of materials used in a plumbing system have some effect on pipe noise, the main goal of soundproofing a building is to insulate components of the system from direct contact with the building structure to mitigate plumbing noise.

Today, acoustic isolation pipe supports are the key to preventing noise problems stemming from vibrations, effectively dampening the noise transfer between piping and building structures. Here’s why it’s time you start specifying them.

They Help Prevent Future Noise-Related Problems

The main reasons you’ll want to proactively include acoustic isolation specs in your plumbing designs are due to two main factors:

  • Tenant complaints: When machinery, piping, or ductwork vibrate, the resulting sound can travel throughout the structure, causing unwanted noise. This is a common irritant to building occupants and is a primary reason for tenant complaints. Some building owners today may be familiar with the frustration pipe noises cause occupants and will assign an Apparent Sound Transmission Class (ASTC) rating to their building. Including acoustic isolation in your specs provides future building owners with the peace of mind that they won’t receive a lot of tenant complaints because of annoying plumbing vibration.
  • Difficult to rectify post-build: Noisy pipes are generally considered one of the most intrusive and difficult sounds to mitigate. Once such an issue arises, it can quickly become a complicated, labor-intensive, and expensive problem to solve. Makeshift methods, such as foam insulation, or field-applied solutions like felt liners typically deteriorate over time as movement from the pipe slices through the insulation material. Plus, if that insulation is exposed, natural elements like condensation could also cause mold or deterioration. Proactively including acoustic isolation products in the project specifications could help alleviate future, expensive costs to building owners, and including specs for projects and educating clients on the benefits of soundproofing is beneficial to your business.

They’re More Cost-Effective Today

Acoustic isolation products are often only included in specs when the owner requests them. This is when an acoustic consultant may step in to help with the design of the building, which can affect everything from plumbing and mechanical systems to the type of wall structure and sealants used. With all of these extra steps to soundproof a building, some may think it could add a hefty price tag to the overall cost of the project.

While it once took a lot of time and energy—and therefore cost—to locate and install the proper materials, recent advances in product development and installation methods have made quieting noisy pipes one of the quickest and most affordable tasks in soundproofing a building.

What to Look for in Acoustic Isolation Products

To accommodate or educate clients, you can include acoustic isolation products in their specifications and drawings, where you can easily add models of products to your specs using a manufacturer’s. (For an example, visit bim.holdrite.com.) In addition, you’ll want to make sure the products selected are from a reputable manufacturer and provide the following characteristics:

  • FBC certified to ensure the isolator doesn’t degrade PEX or CVPC piping material
  • Third-party acoustical lab tested (ISO-3822 certified), as well as field tested and approved
  • Compatible with a range of pipe materials such as copper, PEX, CPVC, cast iron, and more
  • Include a wide range of products that are simple to install and integrate with the brand’s pipe brackets—covering several needs and applications

To learn more about RWC’s acoustic isolation offerings, visit holdrite.com.

About the Author

Jim LeStage, CSI, CDT, is the Specification Sales Manager at RWC—a market leader and manufacturer of water control systems and plumbing solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. To learn more about RWC and its family of brands, visit rwc.com.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the American Society of Plumbing Engineers.

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