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Question DetailsAsked on 4/20/2016

AC closet soundproofing w/o restricting air flow

Hi, I recently bought a brand new condo where the AC and water heater closet is in the master bedroom. It's VERY noisy and makes sleeping difficult. The closet door is in the bedroom, facing the main part of the room; a drywalled side wall of the closet is also in the bedroom, with the back wall shared by the master bath's linen closet. The final wall is shared with the living room, and it is this wall which has a 20x20" intake grate at the bottom. The closet door is not sealed: it's a half slatted bi-fold which, for noise purposes, may as well not be there.

My question is "what are my options to reduce noise?". Can I seal the door and enlarge the intake grate on the side wall? I'm trying determine if what I need help with requires a contractor, a handyman, or an AC specialist.

Thank you,

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1 Answer


Heating and A/C is your Search the List category for a contractor to look at this situation - and you want the design person from an HVAC company, not a repair tech, as this requires a design evaluation before something is done.

He would first have to look at whether the slatted bifold door is acting as an air intake or not - but undoubtedly is, especially if half-slatted and not full slatted as that sound like a specific air intake measure, so replacing it with a solid core door to cut noise would be bad in that case.

Assuming you mean the 20x20 grate is into the living room, not to the outdoors, this whole setup stinks unless there is a condensor (radiator coil and fan unit) venting outdoors somewheres. If there is not, whoever designed it either did not know their business or ignored basic A/C principles. If it is venting the air from the condensor into the living room (or bedroom), your A/C is acting as a heater, not a cooling device, because it is dumping the heat it removes from the condo PLUS the electrical energy heat from the motors back into the living room or bedroom - the net energy effect with a somewhat modern A/C would typically be a 5-10% GAIN in heat in the condo, not a reduction. A/C's work on the premise of removing the heat from the living space and venting it OUTDOORS - they do NOT work recirculating the air. While you will feel cool air coming out of the A/C ducts, the net effect will be a GAIN in heat in the building if the hot air is not vented outside - like running a portable air conditioner on the floor without an air duct through a window to the outside to exhaust the heat. You might feel cool directly in the airflow from the A/C, but overall you would be wasting energy.

I would guess, if the 20x20 grate does not go outdoors, that you have another exhaust somewhere for the hot air to go outdoors. If that is the case, the louvered doors might be there for air for the water heater - which can normally be satisfied with an outdoors air inlet grate, though you do have to watch out for excessive cooling of water pipes in the process in the winter. Or with an air inlet elsewhere into the condo, depending on condo size - but generally you need SOME outdoor ventilation ot a water heater closet.

One other screwy thing - but people cheat on space in condos - is putting the A/C unit in the water heater closet means the air conditioner is running hotter (from the water heater waste heat) than it needs to, an energy waster unless the condensor and its fan are totally outdoors, which is actually the most efficient way to configure an A/C system but rarely done so for residential units.

Furnaces are not entirely the same story - there reheating the interior air (with some makeup air for air quality) works fine - but even there using interior air as the combustion air source can reduce the operating efficiency because warmed interior air is used as combustion air then vented outside as exhaust, resulting in cold outdoor air coming into the building. Depending on outside air temps, generally it is more energy efficient to pull the combustion air through ducting from the outside and return the combustion air to the outside.

With heat pumps generally speaking using outside air for the A/C unit cooling air is most energy efficient, though if you have cool unconditioned spaces like a crawlspace sometimes using that somewhat tempered air can be more energy efficient.

So - HVAC contractor to determine ventilation demand and layout, and he could generally also put in whatever vents are needed - as grates or ducts. Then - for door change is allowable, handyman could commonly handle that. Generally a solid core door (traditional type, not bypass or bifold) would give decent noise limitation - you could cover the bedroom face or the door with corkboard or a quilt or such for additional noise control if a solid core door is allowed there.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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