Author Topic: One way noisy windows  (Read 2491 times)

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Offline Deke

  • Posts: 236
One way noisy windows
« on: May 30, 2018, 12:35 PM »
Okay, my last home DIY post for a month I swear!

This is a weird one. Our house has wood double pane replacement windows from the late 90s or early 2000s. They definitely weren’t top of the line. My issue is this. From inside they almost act like speakers. You can hear any noise or conversation from outside like the person is in the room with you. However, outside you can barely hear anything from inside - yelling, loud music - I tried experiments with my wife.

I know there probably aren’t acoustical engineers here, but how can this be? Should I flip my windows? :-)

Local window company said there is no guarantee that new windows will be better and this was one expense I wanted to avoid. However, I think that would help. I found a company that makes window sound insulation panels at $700 a pop! I read about acoustical caulk, but I think I’d practically have to reinstall the windows.

My neighbors are pretty good and I can live with this. One has young kids, but even when they are going a little nuts outside, it doesn’t bother us. That’s what kids do. I’m really more curious as to how these windows can be so good with sound from inside, but so bad with sound from outside. It seems to defy physics, but I had to kill myself to get aa B in college physics!

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Offline Tim Raleigh

  • Posts: 3522
    • Oakville Cabinetry
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2018, 01:09 PM »
It sounds like the glass was installed in the frames backwards.
If your panes are low e glass there is an exterior or out facing pane. Sometimes you can tell if the window pane has a slight purple cast or blue/grey cast when looked at from the side. If your windows are cloudy then the gas has escaped and they are no longer insulating but that doesn't sound like your problem.
A good window or glass supplier should be able to help you determine what is going on.
Tim

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1965
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2018, 05:24 PM »
I've been selling glass and insulated units, residential and commercial for 38 years...first time I've ever heard anything like this.  Low E is a polymer coating but should not have anything to do with acoustics.  If the low E is installed on the interior the window usually fails as heat is concentrated inside the unit and can actually cause spontaneous breakage.  We replace units regularly when DYIers put reflective film on the interior surfaces.  Back in the day we used to replace gas/auto repair plate glass because they would paint the the upper sections of the glass to block the late day sun...great for glass business.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 05:28 PM by rst »

Offline Tim Raleigh

  • Posts: 3522
    • Oakville Cabinetry
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2018, 07:47 PM »
I've been selling glass and insulated units, residential and commercial for 38 years...

Have you ever seen or installed insulated glass that has panes of different thicknesses?

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1965
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2018, 08:37 PM »
Not normally, however some triple panes have a thinner pane in the middle.  I have six units 16 feet up that are triple pane with 1/8" glass...been up for 30 years.

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 160
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 11:22 PM »
"replacement" is a bit of a loaded word when it comes to windows with sadly multiple meanings.  It should mean "I got my windows replaced, thus they are replacement windows",  with the results being old ones were removed and new windows were put in, end results are same as if the house was being built new.  Sadly as I learned when moving to my current state, the Window industry applies it differently and it is what they call their "Quasi window" deals they use for replacement.  Instead of properly removing the entire old window, they remove the sash, chop away at the old jams with saws, axe, or what ever object is handy, leaving a large portion of the old window in.  The new "quasi window" (referred to as a replacement window by the window companies) is then flopped in the hole (it's basically new glass with a minimal frame to it), and the maybe some screws thru it, into the debris of the old window, then on the outside they bend panning attach that, load on the caulk, on the inside, add some extra trim and call it a day.  These were new to me when I bought my house and had to then go thru and rip out 5 year old windows, that were effectively worthless.  They destroyed the original steel windows and replace them with vinyl blobs, most of which had zero screws that made it to structure.  Basically their exterior panning and caulk is the only thing that "holds" them in. My front picture window only had just a couple attempts at screw attachment, none hit structure. The whole window would move in and out just like a speaker cone.  The panning and caulk was just like the foam of a speaker.  The movement was very noticeable. Same for all the other windows.   

So going to your speaker question, yes, to some degree this does seam possible.  Sound on the inside may push on the windows if they are solid, when it pushes the air outside, it pushing the entire atmosphere, there is nothing out there for it to bounce off more, the sound wave will die quickly. But the other way around it's going to move the air in your house, which in turn is going to bounce of walls, floors, etc.   I would say my house had a similar situation.  But in the end, even now I hear stuff from outside inside way better than from inside to the outside, and that's going to be more with simply sound rattling around inside your house with no place to dissipate, verses outside where there isn't walls randomly in your yard, no ceiling, and your lawn, landscaping, etc will just absorb the sound.

I know where your coming from, and you certainly can have replacement windows that bounce around like speaker cones, but it's probably not the primary issue. Probably some theoretical method like I mentioned above, but probably not the real issue.  Adding soft surfaces and such thru the house would probably do a lot more.  Just picture walking thru an empty house when house shopping verses a furnished one, it makes a big difference in noise.

Offline Gregor

  • Posts: 975
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2018, 02:36 AM »
Possibly this is just a perceived issue as the outside area likely has a higher background noise than the inside of the room?
Maybe retry your experiment in the middle of the night when it's actually quiet outside.

Or your windows accidently reinvent what caltech came up with here...

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 221
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2018, 08:25 AM »
Noise transmission through a barrier like a window is symmetrical, with the attenuation in each direction being the same.  The difference your perceive is due to the fact that noise energy transmitted into the interior enters a small enlosed space whereas the noise transmitted to the exterior enters an effectively infinite volume.  The enclosed interior space acts to reinforce the sound energy, particularly at frequencies where the space is a resonant cavity.  Outside the expansion of the noise into the effectively infinite volume dissipates the sound energy.  The solution is either windows with lower transmission or heavy drapes on the inside of the window which can add to the attenuation of the window and help to break up resonances in the room.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 11:43 AM by kevinculle »

Offline Kodi Crescent

  • Posts: 701
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2018, 08:20 PM »
One day I was working outside on the lawn.  I kept hearing this really odd sound; it sounded like an injured dog whimpering.  I looked all around for where it was coming from.  I didn't see any of the neighbor's dogs out.

I kept investigating, and eventually figured it out.  Several doors down, at the end of the block, one of the homes had a window open.  A teenage kid had a "guest" over while his mom was at work.

Sounds can carry extremely well in some neighborhoods.

Offline Kodi Crescent

  • Posts: 701
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2018, 08:30 PM »
"...Instead of properly removing the entire old window, they remove the sash, chop away at the old jams with saws, axe, or what ever object is handy, leaving a large portion of the old window in....

You have to be a fairly savvy shopper to understand how windows are replaced.  The "boxed in" method is very common.  Removal of old flange and replacement with a properly nailed and taped window of the same size seems rare.

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 160
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2018, 11:03 PM »
"...Instead of properly removing the entire old window, they remove the sash, chop away at the old jams with saws, axe, or what ever object is handy, leaving a large portion of the old window in....

You have to be a fairly savvy shopper to understand how windows are replaced.  The "boxed in" method is very common.  Removal of old flange and replacement with a properly nailed and taped window of the same size seems rare.

I had a co-worker that was getting windows replaced, when he saw how they were doing it, and learned "replacement" didn't mean "replacement" he stopped the job and told him to go back to the factory.  Apparently during the whole sales process they never told him this is what they do.  I'm sure a lot of folks have no idea what they are actually getting.  But hearing of people stopping the job at the first window when they figure it out is not un-common.

I really struggle to see how these windows meet code, as they are never held in well, or sealed, and there is no good way to seal them.  Ripping it all out and getting stuff out from brick is a PITA, I've done it.  But in the end, having insulated glass just to flop around in a hole, with no sealing defeats the whole thing.

Of course part of the blame is from track home builders building houses with cheap windows that need to be replaced in a few years, which then people want fast/cheap and don't want to go thru having the interior trim off their windows for a few weeks between measuring day, and install (days).  Windows should last the life of a house (accidents ignored).  The shift from single pane to insulated is really the only reason windows should have been replaced, and that was decades ago.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4925
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2018, 02:15 AM »
The shift from single pane to insulated is really the only reason windows should have been replaced, and that was decades ago.

I think you’d be surprised at how many houses still retain their old single pane windows.

I have a goofy neighbor that insists the original single pane windows in his house "are the best".  On a yearly basis for the last 20 years at least, he always manages to get a window conversation started and which at some point he declares "They don't make em like that anymore". To which I always reply, "You got that one right Fred...thank God". Lotta kooks in the world... [big grin]
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 10:27 AM by Cheese »

Offline Kodi Crescent

  • Posts: 701
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2018, 02:44 PM »
I've had one window replaced on my home.  Others probably need it, I'm still questioning whether it makes a difference.

The company that replaced the window did indeed cut the siding back to expose the original window flanges.  I stood there and watched a kid in penny loafers (?) stand at the top of a ladder and cut back my Hardiboard siding with a Multimaster.  It must have taken him 3 hours to cut around the window with that thing.  It was a bit frustrating and puzzling, since this was THE window company in the area to hire for replacement windows.

When the company owner came out to inspect the finished product, I shared with him my frustration - The cost for replacement windows is doubled when the builder doesn't build the home with window frames due to the labor involved in cutting back the siding to expose the flange.  Why waste such a large portion of the day having a kid without the proper protective equipment cut the siding in that fashion?

I explained that they could use a Festool saw, rail, and cement board blade to cut the siding in minutes rather than hours.  The labor cost would drop, and he'd probably sell and install many more windows.  He was too concerned about having a $500 (at the time) saw dropped and broken by the crew.  I'll probably do my own windows whenever it's time.

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 160
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2018, 08:54 PM »


I think you’d be surprised at how many houses still retain their old single pane windows.

I have a goofy neighbor that insists the original single pane windows in his house "are the best".  On a yearly basis for the last 20 years at least, he always manages to get a window conversation started and which at some point he declares "They don't make em like that anymore". To which I always reply, "You got that one right Fred...thank God". Lotta kooks in the world... [big grin]

My house had an original left in in, steal and brass frame. It was a really well build window, and many houses around still have them.  They very much don't build them like this anymore, or rather they cost a fortune. I've seen steel windows making a comeback, but now with insulated glass. Few grand a window though.

If my house still had all the original single pane glass in steel frames, I might have left them, and thats even considering I'm making the house extremely efficient/insulated/tight.  While they don't have the R value, what they did have was air seal.  The windows they replaced them with were nothing but air leaks. The windows I put in are installed properly, but even though they are top of the line, they are nothing compared to what was in the house. The original 60 year old windows were still working as good as the day they were put in. If you don't mind a bit of cold spots, or some condensation, on a small house having single panes won't be the end of the world.  Air sealing is far more important than the R value.  Even the best double/tripled pane windows are poor insulators.  If an installer doesn't at least go around the window with spray foam instead of poking a few bits of fiberglass in the gap, the glass isn't going to matter much as the air is leaking in/out around it.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4925
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2018, 09:44 PM »
I've had one window replaced on my home.  Others probably need it, I'm still questioning whether it makes a difference.

I’ve replaced all the windows in our 1952 built house. That means replacing entire windows not just sashes. Replacing sashes only, means that you get a 2018 window with a 60 year old frame. Kind of like a half baked program. 
When you replace the entire window, with the frame, the most interesting thing is that you will feel no drafts and the entire house will feel warmer. My neighbors are amazed with the difference.
The downside is that if you foam them in (which is a must), the weather seal is so tight that you now need to invest in a central dehumidifier.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 01:05 AM by Cheese »

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 160
Re: One way noisy windows
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2018, 11:44 PM »
I've had one window replaced on my home.  Others probably need it, I'm still questioning whether it makes a difference.

I’ve replaced all the windows in our 1952 built house. That means replacing entire windows not just sashes. Replacing sashes only means that you get a 2018 window with a 60 year old sash. Kind of like a half baked program. 
When you replace the windows, the most interesting thing is that you will feel no drafts and the entire house will feel warmer. My neighbors are amazed with the difference.
The downside is that if you foam them in (which is a must), the weather seal is so tight that you now need to invest in a central dehumidifier.

Having an HRV/ERV is a good thing, fresh air 24/7 in a controlled way.  My house only has a thin bit of insulation in the attic, nothing in the walls yet.  New insulation (first layer between joist) is in, still nothing else, nothing in walls.  But house is sealed, every window, gap, crack, etc is spray foamed.  This is where you really see how R value isn't as important as stopping airflow.  Even when it's got super cold in the winter, no drafts, stable temps.    It's really amazing how much they just didn't care in the 50s.  just how many holes to the outside there were within the walls.  Once you start plugging the holes, you notice the ones you missed even more.