What is Acceptable Noise Levels in Residential Areas?


No matter where a person lives in the world, being reasonably close to others means being respectful about noise levels. Those who live out in the country with no neighbors nearby can get away with much louder noises than those in the middle of a major city.

On the other end of things, when someone who lives in the country wants a certain level of quietness, it is much easier to reduce the noise level. In residential areas, and especially in city locations, there is a general buzz that is louder at all times.

What are some of the acceptable noise levels in residential areas? There’s no set answer in most cases, but people should always be aware of how much neighbors can hear when loud activities are happening.

Outdoor Activities in Residential Areas

Loud outdoor activities.

Everyone has experienced seeing a neighbor set up something outside that looks like it is going to cause noise. Whether it be a small get together, all the way to fireworks, outdoor activities are always going to create more overall sound. That means people need to be much more aware of what they do, and at what time of day.

During daylight hours, people can get away with more noise than during night time. It also helps that, generally speaking, there is more noise going on all around to drown out specific sounds.

Noise levels become much more isolated later in the day, causing people to think about possibly being reported.

The best thing to do before any outdoor activity that might be particularly loud is to inform close neighbors. This will prepare them for anything on that particular day, and could help to avoid confrontation later on.

There are not any laws saying this needs done if the noise level isn’t too loud, but it is common courtesy that will build up a good rapport in the area.

Indoor Activities in Residential Areas

Taking something indoors is the best way to reduce sound from traveling all around the neighborhood. Even if the soundproofing in the room is less than ideal, it is going to provide some barrier for noise.

Make sure to close all the doors and windows to help with this as well. It is the best way to block some of the sound from getting out and causing trouble.

The limitations with an indoor activity are that space is usually not nearly as plentiful. Not only that, but certain things can’t happen indoors. Grilling out, playing certain games, and even small fireworks are all impossible indoors. It’s sometimes just not an alternative option.

Being indoors certainly helps, but what if the noise is still way too loud? This is when people look into soundproofing methods that are fairly affordable and can help keep sound from leaving or entering.

Soundproofing a Home in Residential Areas

Dealing with an acceptable amount of noise in a residential area is sometimes easier said than done. Maybe a family needs things to stay extra quiet so that young children can sleep at certain times of the day.

More and more people are working from home, and that is another reason why silence matters. It is easy for some people to tell others to deal with it, but that is not always easy.

Soundproofing material varies in price, and most people start with something very basic that is easy to put up and install. Things like soundproofing curtains, soundproofing blinds, acoustic foam, and more can easily be purchased at stores, or online. This helps to soundproof specific rooms, especially with walls facing the outside.

An entire home can be soundproofed, but keep in mind that it does cost money when going this route. A lot of people will consider this during new construction, especially if they know the area they are building the home.

For older development that needs soundproofing done now, at that point, it is best to hire a professional instead of trying to do everything alone.

What Decibel is Too Loud in Residential Neighborhood?

Generally speaking, indoor residential areas tend to hang around 45 dB for sound. It jumps up to 55 dB for outdoor areas during the daytime in residential areas. This falls well under the 70 dB that is identified by many as the level where people can start to experience hearing loss if exposed over and over again. It might not seem like that would do so much damage, but it is a problem.

Fortunately, for that number to jump up, it usually only happens occasionally. Any explosion is going to jump over 70 dB, as well as the use of musical instruments. If there’s a lot of screaming and yelling, it might temporarily jump above 70 dB, but nothing that will stay at that level for too long.

It is pretty common to keep that 70 dB threshold in mind when looking at noise levels in residential areas. Every person in the neighborhood should try to stay away from anything that will go above that threshold for too long. The more prolonged noises are above 70 dB, the more likely that complaints will start rolling.

This becomes a little tricky when looking at tasks such as using machinery or simply cutting the lawn. These machines can quickly get over 70 dB. The sound is deafening when close by. Make sure to pick the right time to do these activities, and try to stay in a position that isn’t particularly close to neighbors.

It is also highly recommended to use ear protection when operating anything that goes over 70 dB. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but merely cutting grass for an hour or two at a time can leave ears ringing for quite a while after. Over years of this routine, it can start to do long term damage.

What Noise Level is Safe for Helping to Prevent Hearing Loss?

Again, the goal in any residential area is to avoid anything over 70 dB for long periods of time. The longer a person is exposed, the more problems it causes. This is particularly challenging for young children who are still developing.

Earplugs, headphones, and more are short term solutions for noises that might be temporary. Only if the sounds are a common occurrence should soundproofing really be looked into. It usually just does not make financial sense to soundproof an area for just 1-2 times out of the year.

What Happens if People Make too Much Noise in a Residential Area?

A lot of cities have their own noise ordinances, which gives them the ability to take action if noise is getting out-of-control. Most officials are pretty lenient in the beginning, usually only issuing a warning in the beginning. Persistent high noise levels can ultimately lead to issued fines, and even a court date.

Each call to law enforcement out to check out a noise complaint is logged. People do not want to start causing too much trouble, because eventually, law enforcement must take action. It might just be a fine, but it is silly to get in trouble for being too loud. Get everything under control so that the cops are not showing up consistently.

Is Talking to Neighbors the Best Solution?

Most will agree that talking to neighbors and generally keeping each other in mind is the best solution to controlling residential noise. Every person wants to have some fun and be loud from time to time, just like every person enjoys quiet time.

Talking with a neighbor develops a relationship, and louder noise levels become more acceptable. As long as a person does not abuse their ability to make loud sounds, everything should be just fine.

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