How To Effectively Handle A Noise Nuisance

How To Effectively Handle A Noise Nuisance

How To Effectively Handle A Noise Nuisance

Occasionally we field calls from concerned citizens who are dealing with a noise nuisance. These nuisances involve irritating sounds and/or vibrations which are affecting their health via undue stress and lack of quality sleep. Typical noise nuisances are created by but not limited to:

* Parties, * Loud music, * Shouting, * Barking dogs, * Construction

The question always asked of us here at Enviro Equipment, Inc. is, “Which instrument should I use to measure the noise?” Our staff can recommend a sound level meter, but renting or purchasing an instrument frequently does not resolve their noise nuisance problem, so we usually recommend that other steps be taken first.

Initially you should identify exactly where the nuisance is originating from. Once you have established the source, you need to research the local noise laws and/or ordinances that apply. Having a witness present that can verify your complaint is helpful, and keeping a journal with nuisance times and dates is strongly recommended. With this evidence you can contact your landlord, housing authority, or homeowners association about the disturbance for a remedy of your complaint. Other possible options are to contact your local environmental health department to investigate the nuisance, seek community mediation and arbitration, or in extreme cases contact your local police.

Should you find yourself unable to identify the source of the problem then contacting an environmental noise consultant or industrial hygienist may be your best bet. These consultants possess the expertise to identify the source, research local ordinances and standards, and conduct studies utilizing the proper equipment necessary in order to present a case on your behalf.

Because the instrumentation used to record (i.e. data log) noise levels requires advanced technology and expert knowledge in deciphering data collected through an instrument’s software, environmental consultants are experts at determining what data is or isn’t important, and most importantly why; especially if the complaint becomes a legal dispute where a licensed expert’s testimony is a must. Another reason to hire a consultant to take a noise reading is the liability involved when renting or leasing a piece of equipment. For example, a commonly used instrument the CEL-633.C1/K1 retails for over $5,600. When you hire a consultant who uses their own instrument, or rents an instrument, then they would be the one assuming the risk in the event of theft or damage to the instrument.

If the noise nuisance is coming from your neighbor, we suggest knocking on their door or calling first before doing anything else. Ask if they are aware of the disturbance – do not assume they do. It will be less stressful on both parties to build a relationship based on mutual respect. Also consider the possibility that the problem may not be your neighbor, but the structure of your home, condo or apartment.

If talking to the neighbor doesn’t work, calling the police (they usually have their own noise meters) is best before resorting to a lawsuit. For more information on the legal remedies to resolve ongoing noise nuisances, go to

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James Bergman (not verified)
January 21, 2016

When my neighbors have made lots of noise I have always knocked on their door to ask them to tone it down. Nine times out of ten this works, but it is good to know that there is something else I can do. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a sound ordinance. Where would I find this?

Eric Chew
January 25, 2016

James, thanks for the comment. You can typically find noise ordinance information for your local area by doing a google search for “noise ordinance”. As an example, here is what comes up for us in the Charlotte, North Carolina, USA area: