Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
User avatar
Topic Author
archbish99
Posts: 1642
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by archbish99 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:15 pm

Our house had an attic fan when we bought it, so no clue how old it is (bought house in 2008). A few years ago, we added a thermostat to make it automatic, so it wasn't on/off 24-7. (Mostly off, because the climb into the attic is a pain.) This summer, we've started getting unhappy notes from the neighbors the fan faces, saying it's unbearably loud in their house.

They "helpfully" included a copy of our noise ordinance, which prohibits:
Frequent, repetitive or continuous sounds which emanate from any building, structure, apartment or condominium which unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of owners or possessors of real property;
It's not at all loud in our back yard, but we haven't managed to catch them at home to hear it from inside their house. While I suspect they're being unreasonable, I'll find that out tonight.

A few questions:
  • Is there a more concrete definition of"unreasonably interferes" that could be measured?
  • What kind of professional would deal with these? Would it just be a general contractor, an electrician, ...?
Any help appreciated.
I'm not a financial advisor, I just play one on the Internet.

psteinx
Posts: 3207
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by psteinx » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:20 pm

You probably need to describe the situation better to get a decent response.

Are you in a condo? House? 2-story?

Is your building attached to the neighbor (duplex)?

How far, approximately, from the fan location to the neighbor's house/windows?

Does the fan face directly towards the neighbor?

How big of a fan is it?

When you open the hatch to the attic and run the fan, is it noisy? Has it changed in some fashion over the years (i.e. bearings going bad or something?)

Do you have any kind of relationship (good/bad/neutral) with the neighbor in question?

User avatar
Topic Author
archbish99
Posts: 1642
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by archbish99 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:29 am

psteinx wrote:You probably need to describe the situation better to get a decent response.

Are you in a condo? House? 2-story?

Is your building attached to the neighbor (duplex)?

How far, approximately, from the fan location to the neighbor's house/windows?

Does the fan face directly towards the neighbor?

How big of a fan is it?

When you open the hatch to the attic and run the fan, is it noisy? Has it changed in some fashion over the years (i.e. bearings going bad or something?)

Do you have any kind of relationship (good/bad/neutral) with the neighbor in question?
House, as stated. Not attached, but across a fence. Houses are close -- maybe 15-20 feet. Fan is on the side of the house facing the back of their house. Fan doesn't have a CFM rating printed on the portion I can access from the attic, so not sure how to address the size question. The fan is certainly audible, but I don't think the noise is bad. (Obviously, they disagree.) There's a quiet hum from inside the house; the outside noise seems to be more air movement than motor noise. The change that I'm aware of is that we added a thermostat, as noted. Besides that, no difference that we've observed.

The past relationship with them has been null -- we've attempted to introduce ourselves over the back fence, and no response, which has felt a bit odd. The first contact back from them was a note left in our mailbox.
I'm not a financial advisor, I just play one on the Internet.

User avatar
mephistophles
Posts: 3110
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:34 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by mephistophles » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:52 am

My fan is on my roof so its not pointed directly at another house. We have replaced it twice. Once after a storm and another time due to faulty installation. That fan was partly loose from whatever holds it and was loud. So, check placement and viability of present fan. They are not expensive to replace even when we used electrician.

User avatar
dumbbunny
Posts: 875
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:00 pm
Location: Oregon coast

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by dumbbunny » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:59 am

archbish99 wrote:It's not at all loud in our back yard, but we haven't managed to catch them at home to hear it from inside their house. While I suspect they're being unreasonable, I'll find that out tonight.

A few questions:
  • Is there a more concrete definition of"unreasonably interferes" that could be measured?
  • What kind of professional would deal with these? Would it just be a general contractor, an electrician, ...?
Any help appreciated.
Put a note on their door and to let them know you want to "do the right thing." Ask them when it would be convenient to come over and listen to your fan from their house - not as a judge and jury but only to get a better understanding how you might then describe the noise level to contractor or electrician.

I can imagine to a degree what your neighbors are going through. It is similar to an ex-neighbor who installed his central vacuum unit on the outside of his house. Who in the heck vacuums at 11:30 pm? They did until I asked them to consider vacuuming earlier in the evening. We eventually moved away.
“It’s the curse of old men to realize that in the end we control nothing." "Homeland" episode, "Gerontion"

southbay
Posts: 471
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:40 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by southbay » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:02 am

archbish99 wrote:
psteinx wrote:You probably need to describe the situation better to get a decent response.

Are you in a condo? House? 2-story?

Is your building attached to the neighbor (duplex)?

How far, approximately, from the fan location to the neighbor's house/windows?

Does the fan face directly towards the neighbor?

How big of a fan is it?

When you open the hatch to the attic and run the fan, is it noisy? Has it changed in some fashion over the years (i.e. bearings going bad or something?)

Do you have any kind of relationship (good/bad/neutral) with the neighbor in question?
House, as stated. Not attached, but across a fence. Houses are close -- maybe 15-20 feet. Fan is on the side of the house facing the back of their house. Fan doesn't have a CFM rating printed on the portion I can access from the attic, so not sure how to address the size question. The fan is certainly audible, but I don't think the noise is bad. (Obviously, they disagree.) There's a quiet hum from inside the house; the outside noise seems to be more air movement than motor noise. The change that I'm aware of is that we added a thermostat, as noted. Besides that, no difference that we've observed.

The past relationship with them has been null -- we've attempted to introduce ourselves over the back fence, and no response, which has felt a bit odd. The first contact back from them was a note left in our mailbox.
Their approach is terrible. I would just walk over in person with a smile to discuss.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5888
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:05 am

archbish99 wrote:They "helpfully" included a copy of our noise ordinance, which prohibits:
Frequent, repetitive or continuous sounds which emanate from any building, structure, apartment or condominium which unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of owners or possessors of real property;
You should look up the details of the noise ordinance. They are not usually meant to be a "blank check" for neighbors to complain about normal, everyday noises other neighbors are making. For example, I can hear my neighbor's HVAC unit kick on when I have my windows open, but that doesn't mean I can demand that they turn off their AC during a summer heat wave. Your local code compliance office can provide guidance here as to what your locality considers a "nuisance" noise and what is considered normal, everyday neighborhood noises.

I would also recommend using a smartphone to measure the decibels from the fan in various parts of the yard and the neighbor's house (or along the fence by their house if they don't let you in). Compare this to the decibels created by the HVAC system when it is running. If the fan measures much higher than the HVAC unit, it might be time to replace it with a newer, quieter unit. If the fan is close to the HVAC reading, then they may just be "difficult" neighbors.

Edit: Also take decibel measurements at different points during the day and night. The nighttime readings will have less ambient noise.

goodlifer
Posts: 512
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by goodlifer » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:07 am

Buy a decibel meter and record yourself using it on the outside and inside while the fan is running. Ask your neighbors to notify you exactly when it is bothering them so they either realize it is their own fan that is bothering them (the usual scenario) or your fan is making a noise you were not aware of and fix it. The recording is either proof that you are not at fault or something to show the contractor to fix.

whomever
Posts: 868
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by whomever » Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:33 am

1)They sound like difficult neighbors. We've had those from time to time, so I feel for you. Unfortunately, you have to deal with the neighbors you get.

2)Noise can be funny. We once had neighbors whose teenage kid played his boom box pretty loud. The base notes actually caused our windows to buzz loudly - you could feel them vibrate with your fingers. When we inquired about moderating the volume, the father said he had been sleeping through it without noticing (and I think he was sincere). We eventually bought a nice set of stereo headphones for the kid, and suggested that the sound through the headphones would be better than through his over driven speakers. That worked. But the moral is that sound can be funny about where and to whom it seems loud.

3)I don't have any experience with the fans linked below - they were from a boglehead thread a few weeks ago. The company says they have lots of wondrous advantages in addition to being quiet (and a company wouldn't lie about that!):

http://www.quietcoolfan.com/products.html

User avatar
JPH
Posts: 898
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:56 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by JPH » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:27 am

In my city if someone complains of noise, they will send out an officer with a sound pressure meter to take measurements. There are objective standards for noise pollution. It doesn't seem like this is what you mean to do, but if the sound is within the legal limits you can ignore them.
While the moments do summersaults into eternity | Cling to their coattails and beg them to stay - Townes Van Zandt

User avatar
just frank
Posts: 1455
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:13 pm
Location: Philly Metro

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by just frank » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:41 am

Numerous studies have shown that attic fans use more power to run than they save in air conditioning bills. They're snake oil.

Just cut the power to the darned thing and be happy.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aste-money

User avatar
Raymond
Posts: 1414
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:04 am
Location: Texas

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by Raymond » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:37 am

To the OP - how is your hearing?

I personally have some loss of hearing at higher frequencies due to getting older and past exposure to jet engine noise (even with earplugs and earmuffs).

If I had a fan that was emitting a high-pitched squeal, I might not hear it :(

[Edit] For general info, here's an online hearing test (non-commercial):

Online Hearing Test and Audiogram Printout
Last edited by Raymond on Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"

saladdin
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 5:45 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by saladdin » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:47 am

Not much pity for the neighbors so I'll bite. I have insomnia which I take medicine for. Just the thought of that fan makes me miss sleep.

There's more to this story. You said "notes" as in plural. If you've ingored their other requests then this is on you 100% for putting them off and of course they would respond with quoting the ordinance. Like always, there is more to the story.

Call the city and ask them to make official determination if it is too loud then go from there. Maybe the city has a cfm requirement to buy a new fan under.

What you think is loud and what they think are 2 different things. On paper to me there is no way that you are good under the ordinance but that is going by paper.

southbay
Posts: 471
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:40 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by southbay » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:34 am

just frank wrote:Numerous studies have shown that attic fans use more power to run than they save in air conditioning bills. They're snake oil.

Just cut the power to the darned thing and be happy.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aste-money
I had considered installing a solar attic fan (no energy cost) but decided it might be snake oil.

hicabob
Posts: 2835
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 5:35 pm
Location: cruz

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by hicabob » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:50 am

If you plug the fan into a variable transformer (variac) you can adjust the speed easily. Slowing fans down a little greatly reduces the noise they produce. The fan will run for longer periods of time but will be much quieter.


http://www.amazon.com/Variac-Variable-T ... ransformer

BeerTooth
Posts: 267
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:07 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by BeerTooth » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:52 am

just frank wrote:Numerous studies have shown that attic fans use more power to run than they save in air conditioning bills. They're snake oil.

Just cut the power to the darned thing and be happy.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aste-money
Agreed. Turn it off.

Here's another source:
http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... -they-hurt

User avatar
greg24
Posts: 3588
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:34 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by greg24 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:33 am

archbish99 wrote:House, as stated. Not attached, but across a fence. Houses are close -- maybe 15-20 feet. Fan is on the side of the house facing the back of their house.
Do they have windows facing your fan? One possibility: they have their windows open at night to cool the house off, and your attic fan keeps kicking on and blowing hot air in their windows. How would you like to have that happening to you? Noise ordinance may be the legal cover they've found to complain.

If its true that attic fans don't actually save you money, I agree that turning it off may be the best for everyone.

SamB
Posts: 823
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:17 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by SamB » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:02 am

My builder installed the cheapest attic fan ever manufactured and it lasted for five years. It was noisy, as are most cheap fans. My suggestion is that I would not want to annoy my neighbors, and why would they expend the effort, and be unreasonable by complaining about a noise source that did not really annoy them?

Additionally, the geometry of my roof lends itself to vent ridge, which consumes no power, emits no noise and is far more effective, in combination with the soffit vents. This is what I did when the attic fan stopped - installed vent ridge and new soffits.

My suggestion is reconcile with your neighbors and get rid of the attic fan. Forget splitting hairs over local ordinances related to decibel levels or duration. In my opinion that is silly.

In general, I find your reaction to your neighbor's complaint to be strange.

User avatar
Kosmo
Posts: 1297
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:54 am
Location: Philadelphia

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by Kosmo » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:27 am

JPH wrote:In my city if someone complains of noise, they will send out an officer with a sound pressure meter to take measurements. There are objective standards for noise pollution. It doesn't seem like this is what you mean to do, but if the sound is within the legal limits you can ignore them.
This. Do nothing until a code enforcement officer comes. The noise ordinance you quoted is entirely unenforceable. The neighbors would have to provide dates and times of the offending noises and the code enforcement officer would need to verify them, or at the very least experience the noise himself. It is not at all worth the local government's time and resources to investigate this, and they know that.

inbox788
Posts: 6396
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by inbox788 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:16 pm

I doubt an attic fan is more noisy than ac compressors, and those are legal, so it's unlikely to lead to enforcement action, and you can cross that bridge if you get there. While not official, there are apps, many free that you can load on you phone and measure some numbers. Check and compare numbers from your property and on the street for various noise makers in addition to the attic fan, try ac compressor, lawn mowers, blowers, car engines, etc.

Also, subjectively evaluate the quality of the noise, which may be different in irritation than the sound pressure measurements.

Now, as far as appeasing the neighbors, cleaning and oiling might reduce the noise, or make remove some if the more harsh frequencies, as well as make the fan run more efficiently. See if there is something adding to the noise, like loose parts flapping in the wind. Turning off may be an option, but keep in mind that cooling isn't the only purpose of the fan, but also venting moisture from the attic.

Sorry to hear you can't have a simple conversation with your neighbor. Hope that's not reflective of the neighborhood. If it is, moving should be considered.

User avatar
N1CKV
Posts: 803
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:18 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by N1CKV » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:11 pm

archbish99 wrote:The past relationship with them has been null -- we've attempted to introduce ourselves over the back fence, and no response, which has felt a bit odd. The first contact back from them was a note left in our mailbox.
Sounds like a jerk.

Put a note on his front door reminding him that placing items in a mailbox for delivery by someone other than the Postal Service is a federal offence.
18 U.S.C. 1725 states:

"Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits any mailable matter such as
statements of accounts, circulars, sale bills, or other like matter,
on which no postage has been paid, in any letter box established,
approved, or accepted by the Postal Service for the receipt or
delivery of mail matter on any mail route with intent to avoid payment
of lawful postage thereon, shall for each such offense be fined under
this title"

User avatar
flossy21
Posts: 482
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 2:04 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by flossy21 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:19 pm

The noise of the fan is a function of the blade geometry. Unfortunately so is the effectiveness. If it turns out that you need to quiet it down can you change the fan blade to one that creates less noise? I would imagine there are standard blades for these things that you can buy.

oxothuk
Posts: 441
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:35 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by oxothuk » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:21 pm

just frank wrote:Numerous studies have shown that attic fans use more power to run than they save in air conditioning bills. They're snake oil.

Just cut the power to the darned thing and be happy.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aste-money
Depends on where you live. Here in Colorado where the nights are cool, we use a whole house fan at night and can do without A/C altogether.

User avatar
Topic Author
archbish99
Posts: 1642
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by archbish99 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:23 pm

Well, one "note" was to complain about the fan last week, and the second note was thanking us for the apple bread which we included with our reply. Our reply was also by note, since they weren't home when I went over. They came over yesterday afternoon while I was at work, noise ordinance in hand, and my wife was upset by their visit.

I went over last night, and they seem like perfectly nice, normal people. The noise drops off sharply to either side of their deck -- a little into their yard or around to the side, it's nearly inaudible. While I still find it relatively quiet, I suppose I can see how a constant sound could be irritating. As to legal limits, the problem is that there's not a dBA level stated in that clause of the noise ordinance -- it's "unreasonably interferes with ... peace, comfort and repose." Hence the original question about what constitutes "unreasonable." There is a simple dBA limit defined for unincorporated areas, which we aren't, but it's a useful reference standard. Cell phone microphones vary widely -- his cell phone says it's well over the limit for daytime noise, mine says it's slightly over the limit for nighttime noise. I don't know that I want to drop the money on a discrete sound measurement device so to support being a jerk and telling them to go away. Either way, if that were the applicable law, we would probably be at least a little too loud if anyone's cell phone is correct.

The trouble with saying "Is it louder than the HVAC?" is that no one has A/C. In this area, you find central air mostly in houses that are $700k+; at our less-extravagant level, neither they nor we have A/C. A few folks have window units, which we've also considered, but they're hard to find during a warm summer -- Home Depot gets a shipment and sells out the same day. Which also twists the argument that an attic fan won't save on the A/C cost -- we have no A/C cost we're trying to save on, because our house is cooled by whatever cooling effect the attic fan has, fans in the house, and open windows.

Now, if there's an argument to be made that attic fans don't actually cool the house, that's certainly one valid route. At this point, we've got a contractor coming over to see if there's something obviously wrong (rusted motor, bad bearings, etc.) and why the control switch doesn't turn it off. In the meantime, we've turned the thermostat up to 100 degrees (in the attic, not outside), which should substantially reduce how often it runs. Don't know whether we'll ultimately replace, remove, or just disable the fan. I'd rather not ignore them flat out -- my hope is that, even if they got the relationship off to a poor start, they might get to know us on a better level than "those people with the fan."
I'm not a financial advisor, I just play one on the Internet.

User avatar
greg24
Posts: 3588
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:34 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by greg24 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:25 pm

N1CKV wrote:Sounds like a jerk.

Put a note on his front door reminding him that placing items in a mailbox for delivery by someone other than the Postal Service is a federal offence.
The jerk store called.

Can't we all just get along?

BeerTooth
Posts: 267
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:07 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by BeerTooth » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:32 pm

oxothuk wrote:
just frank wrote:Numerous studies have shown that attic fans use more power to run than they save in air conditioning bills. They're snake oil.

Just cut the power to the darned thing and be happy.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aste-money
Depends on where you live. Here in Colorado where the nights are cool, we use a whole house fan at night and can do without A/C altogether.
Totally agree on the effectiveness of the whole house fan, which is a different device than the attic fan mentioned in the OP

User avatar
just frank
Posts: 1455
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:13 pm
Location: Philly Metro

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by just frank » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:23 pm

TylerDavis wrote:
oxothuk wrote:
just frank wrote:Numerous studies have shown that attic fans use more power to run than they save in air conditioning bills. They're snake oil.

Just cut the power to the darned thing and be happy.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blo ... aste-money
Depends on where you live. Here in Colorado where the nights are cool, we use a whole house fan at night and can do without A/C altogether.
Totally agree on the effectiveness of the whole house fan, which is a different device than the attic fan mentioned in the OP
The questions is not about whole house fans (I think) but about attic ventilation fans, which are a different beast.

Whole house fans work fine in climates where the weather is right...cools off at night, and not too humid. In most of the east coast, the number of nights they are useful is small enough to not make them that useful. To the rest of you...enjoy!

inbox788
Posts: 6396
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by inbox788 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:50 pm

greg24 wrote:
N1CKV wrote:Sounds like a jerk.

Put a note on his front door reminding him that placing items in a mailbox for delivery by someone other than the Postal Service is a federal offence.
The jerk store called.

Can't we all just get along?
LOL! I thought he was kidding, but in the worst case if someone is truly being a jerk, lowering yourself to their level is the only way to deal with it. Hire a lawyer to get a restraining order to stay off your property and refer all future correspondence to your lawyer.

Seriously, since OP himself reports measuring above nighttime noise level, fixing he nighttime issue seems reasonable. Is the main complaint nighttime or all the time? Same noise during daytime may appear less bothersome because of increased background noise. See if the increase in temperature threshold and reduced running are a noticeable and sufficient improvement, especially if it's not running at night. Just making the effort and communications may be enough remedy the conflict even though the entire noise doesn't go away completely.

Fan noise is generally white noise and one of the easiest noises to learn to ignore. It's even used to mask other less desirable noises. If there is a harsh motor or other noise that is more bothersome, then more fixes may be pursued.

User avatar
Topic Author
archbish99
Posts: 1642
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by archbish99 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:46 pm

We had a contractor who's done some work for us before come in and take a look. He says that our "attic fan" looks like it's the old fan out of a furnace, and given the general idiocy of our house's previous owners, I wouldn't put it past them to have done just that. He's going to give us a quote for replacing it with a proper attic fan in a different location (that doesn't point at their house). Assuming the quote is not astronomical, we'll probably do it.
I'm not a financial advisor, I just play one on the Internet.

wilked
Posts: 1523
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by wilked » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:21 am

I agree with the others, let your neighbor do it a favor and don't use the attic fan, it is highly likely doing more harm than good

User avatar
mephistophles
Posts: 3110
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:34 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by mephistophles » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:59 am

Main reason I have an attic fan in the first place is to lengthen the life of the roof shingles. Also have a ridgevent. I was told this by a roofer years ago when I had to replace a roof that was only 12 years old. Have installed and used a fan ever since. Of course, I could be wrong on this.
That said, the heat pump air conditioning unit on houses in our neighborhood run louder than any attic fan. Also, dogs barking louder than attic fans. Luckily, almost everybody has a dog and their barking is mostly communication with each other.

Keim
Posts: 189
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by Keim » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:24 am

Seems to me the fan is likely only annoying at night. I suspect prior to your thermostat you either left it on all night, or never had it on at night. I bet the change of sound caused by the fan starting is waking them. Fans aren't white noise at start-up. Only once the ear adjusts to them being on.

$10 solution: Put a timer on the fan so it can only turn on at set times of the day.

LPSpecial
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:20 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by LPSpecial » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:26 am

In 1999 we put a Masterflow gable vent attic fan in because our roof did not have adequate ventilation. We were told to set the thermostat at 105 degrees. It made quite a difference in helping to reduce the attic temperature. We put a new roof on in 2006 which had adequate venting but kept the fan installed and running. It finally died a couple months ago. With the fan not operating, we noticed that the humdidty in our home was much worse than with the fan running. So I bought the same model and replaced it myself (don't like going in the attic, really a pain). Several of the online reviews said that these new models were very quiet. I was anxious to see if that was true. It is much quieter than the old one, I can barely hear it running inside the house. Outside, I can hear it because it's moving a lot of air but it's not overly loud. Sounds like a good idea to move it to a location away from your neighbors. Wish you the best in dealing with this.

User avatar
Topic Author
archbish99
Posts: 1642
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by archbish99 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:54 am

Keim wrote:Seems to me the fan is likely only annoying at night. I suspect prior to your thermostat you either left it on all night, or never had it on at night. I bet the change of sound caused by the fan starting is waking them. Fans aren't white noise at start-up. Only once the ear adjusts to them being on.

$10 solution: Put a timer on the fan so it can only turn on at set times of the day.
No, the fan turns on in the heat of the afternoon, and off as it cools down after sunset. Their complaint is that they can't have their windows open or sit outside on their porch in the evenings.
I'm not a financial advisor, I just play one on the Internet.

itstoomuch
Posts: 5343
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:17 pm
Location: midValley OR

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by itstoomuch » Thu Aug 20, 2015 12:11 pm

AC motors want to run at high RPM's. If fan blades are dirty, worn bearing,, blockage of intake/outtakes, all will contribute to noise.

We installed solar roof fan, fan speed is proportional to sunlite received. Self timing :oops:
Cost is reasonable and maintenance free (20 years (?)).
YMMV
Rev012718; 4 Incm stream buckets: SS+pension; dfr'd GLWB VA & FI anntys, by time & $$ laddered; Discretionary; Rentals. LTCi. Own, not asset. Tax TBT%. Early SS. FundRatio (FR) >1.1 67/70yo

User avatar
just frank
Posts: 1455
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:13 pm
Location: Philly Metro

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by just frank » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:31 pm

mephistophles wrote:Main reason I have an attic fan in the first place is to lengthen the life of the roof shingles. Also have a ridgevent. I was told this by a roofer years ago when I had to replace a roof that was only 12 years old. Have installed and used a fan ever since. Of course, I could be wrong on this.
That said, the heat pump air conditioning unit on houses in our neighborhood run louder than any attic fan. Also, dogs barking louder than attic fans. Luckily, almost everybody has a dog and their barking is mostly communication with each other.
Attic fans do not extend shingle life. The sheathing underneath the shingles has a much higher R-value than the free air above...so dropping the temps in an attic by 10°F will drop shingle temps by less than 1°F.

They're useless.

Sbg1974
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:57 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by Sbg1974 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:10 pm

I know this threat isn’t active anymore but I must say that I am victim of my front neighbor's attic fan noise blowing onto my master bedroom windows for 2 summers now. I tried to talk to them without any results. They paid about $500 to get the same model fan they had before and they want to use it.
The weird thing is the fan isn’t really audible anywhere else than in my house, probably because their fan is facing us. It doesn’t bother me much during the day, except when I would like to nap...
I talked to the town inspector but this is a vibration noise, he couldn’t hear it.
I plugged both my windows, replaced my windows for new ones supposedly soundproof, add a layer of loaded vinyl to plug the windows, used another layer as curtain, added soundproof blankets. It’s okay sometimes but when the wind is blowing the wrong way, I can’t sleep.

adamthesmythe
Posts: 2910
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:24 pm

Possibly the sounds of starting up or shutting down are louder and more objectionable. Certainly this is true of air conditioners.

Leave it on all the time and tell them that you have "put the cowl back on" just like it was before they complained.

Broken Man 1999
Posts: 2933
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:31 am

Re: Attic Fan & Noise Ordinance

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:41 pm

Sbg1974 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:10 pm
I know this threat isn’t active anymore but I must say that I am victim of my front neighbor's attic fan noise blowing onto my master bedroom windows for 2 summers now. I tried to talk to them without any results. They paid about $500 to get the same model fan they had before and they want to use it.
The weird thing is the fan isn’t really audible anywhere else than in my house, probably because their fan is facing us. It doesn’t bother me much during the day, except when I would like to nap...
I talked to the town inspector but this is a vibration noise, he couldn’t hear it.
I plugged both my windows, replaced my windows for new ones supposedly soundproof, add a layer of loaded vinyl to plug the windows, used another layer as curtain, added soundproof blankets. It’s okay sometimes but when the wind is blowing the wrong way, I can’t sleep.
Maybe get a "white noise" generator?

When DW and I lived in our mobile home, we were near an interstate off-ramp, and I ran a window banger all year to drown out the noise. Very effective when I did some night tours. Also covered up my little daughters' noise when I was sleeping during the day.

Sleep can certainly be affected by so many things.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

Post Reply