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Guest SunBelle

Living next to Amtrak--soundproofing house?

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Guest SunBelle

Hi,

 

I apologize in advance if any of my questions fall into the dumb category; they're born out of ignorance--I honestly don't know any better; which is why I came here to learn. I'm considering moving from out of state to Florida--the Kissimmee area. Several of the houses that fit my budget and transportation needs (I am public transit dependent), are right next to Amtrak lines--and my favorite house is less than two miles away from both a small municipal airport (only small private & corporate planes), and Amtrak.

 

Amtrak does not service the area in which I currently live, and I've never lived near an airport-- I have no frame of reference for how loud either situation would be. I'm a nightshift worker who telecommutes. Noise during the day doesn't really bother me since I'm moderately hearing impaired; what matters is that within my home office while I'm on the clock at night, no other sound intrudes--simply because even if I can't hear it, my clients can.

 

So my questions have three distinct parts:

  1. Noise: Would noise from Amtrak or small private aircraft be discernable via phone connections or audio recordings at a distance of 1-2miles?
  2. Soundproofing: Would acoustic panels, sound absorbtion mats, door sweeps, and double-paning windows with lexan or other polycarbonate block enough exterior sound that I could work?
  3. How far away from Amtrak/airports should I try to be if I don't want exterior sound (and minimizing it) to be a factor?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

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Since so much depends on the type of construction, when the building was built and the number of trains that run past a building plus grade crossings etc, you really would need to check out in person locations around Central Florida!

 

Generally Freight Trains make more noise than Passenger Teains or Commuter Rail!

 

Some of our members live in the Orlando area so probably will be able to give you good advice! ( penny k is on a train trip but lives close to the Orlando Station in a condo) Other members have houses in the area.

 

I would suggest you ride a Silver Train to Florida and explore the area in person so you will have the info you need to satisfy your living and working environment! With SunRail expanding in the area commuting should be easy! Traffic is terrible due to the I-4 Parking Lot and all the tourism in the area, but you shouldn't need a car expect maybe to shop!

 

Orlandos Airport is Very Busy but most flights are in daylight! Small planes generally don't fly late @ night either but such things as Fed-Ex and UPS do most of their flying @ night!

Edited by jimhudson

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I'd expect the aircraft to be the bigger annoyance (and it'll be mostly freight trains on that line FYI). Best thing to do is ask the locals because geography and acoustics can result in some weird things.

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1-2 miles should be fine for the train horn. We live one block from an Amtrak crossing, and if our (very old, single-pane, non-insulated, crappy) windows are closed, my mom can't quite hear the train while I'm on the phone with her. (I've asked.) If our windows are open, then yes. It's quite loud. I have to ask her to stop talking for a second because I won't be able to hear her over the train.

 

I imagine that, even if your windows were open, people on the phone would never know.

 

The Amtrak station is a half-mile from us, and even with the windows open, the horn is distant and imperceptible to people on the phone. If you are 1-2 miles away, I doubt you'd even notice, especially if the windows are shut.

 

Plus, if you aren't near a "grade crossing" (a crossing that goes over a street and requires gates/bells), that will add to the silent factor. If the train passes by but is on an overpass of sorts, it doesn't need to sound its horn. It only does that when crossing a street, arriving at a station, etc, as it makes traffic and pedestrians aware of its presence.

 

I'm not sure about the airport. A lot will depend on the flight paths.

Edited by SarahZ

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In regards to soundproofing, I can recommend having six inches of sprayfoam insulation. I can't hear *anything* happening outside my house.

 

In regards to noise sources, your top worries should be heavy trucks, airplanes, and freight trains, in that order. Passenger trains are pretty quiet. I'm hoping your preferred house is off the heavy truck routes. You'd have to spend a full day in the area to figure out how loud the airplanes and freight trains are; the airplanes can be *loud*, even the little private ones.

Edited by neroden

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The little house I rent is old, and the windows upstairs very bad. I'm about 150' from the tracks where daily there pass 2 Amtrak trains, several dozen commuter trains, and many freight trains. I've been here for 2½ years and at the point of very seldom hearing the trains, unless my windows are open and I'm paying attention. I have neighborhood friends closer to the tracks who have been there 40 years or more who never hear the trains. You get used to it.

 

That said, a mile away there is only a slight awareness of train noise if I'm paying attention.

 

As far as their horns, there are no grade crossings for 5 miles or more away from me, and while I agree with Sarah that ordinarily they don't need the horns, sometimes there will be trackwork in the area where they do blow them, and occasionally it seems like they blow just to say hello.

 

Some trains are quieter than others, and some tracks are quieter, but at 2 miles away you shouldn't have any trouble.

Edited by PRae_Train

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I can't speak to your situation, but I can tell you about my living situation.

 

I live in condominium that is less than two short blocks from a Metra station in the Chicago suburbs. My condo faces West and North, and I can see the station from my living room. It is a 3 track BNSF line, about 4 miles west of the Cicero yards. There is a lot of traffic on that line. The ticket agent told me that there are approximately 80 trains a day that go through the station daily.

 

So, what's it like?

 

Well, in the living room, with the windows closed, the trains are audible (particularly the freights), but not so much as to be intrusive. It's something that one gets used to, and becomes part of the routine of life here. I'd say it's no louder than a washing machine. With the windows open (and they all face the station), it's obviously noisier. Not so much that one has to pause a conversation however.

 

On the north side of my unit, where the bedrooms are, I don't even hear the trains. I sleep just fine - at least for a guy who has to get up at about 2 AM every night.

 

Horns are different. In the bedroom, it's a distant sound that's actually kind of enjoyable. In the living room, much louder. Again, it's nothing that's offensive or intrusive. And, remember I'm talking 80 trains a day. In the time I've been typing this, I've heard one freight and one commuter train go by. In fact, make that three something just went by.

 

My suggestion? Spend some time in the property and see what it's like.

 

Here's a view from my living room from a couple of years ago. Yeah, I'm that close.

 

post-8887-0-80405100-1414153167_thumb.png

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The OP is concerned that her clients will hear the train while she's on the phone with them, so the comments about getting used to it is not really relevant to her question.

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Fair enough, and my bad.

 

That said, I never have a problem with conversations on the phone with people from work, etc. No one ever comments about the sound of the trains.

 

My parrot, on the other hand....

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I live in downtown Orlando about half a mile from the tracks. I can hear the trains but I doubt anyone on the phone with me could hear them. As Jim mentioned, we have freight trains and now SunRail coming through town. I am closer to the tracks than I am to the Orlando Executive Airport. I cannot recall being indoors and hearing a plane (or maybe I just block planes out entirely).

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Guest crescent2

I live maybe a half-mile from a freight line, and when inside I can hear the horns faintly I don't think they are audible to anyone on the phone, but I've never asked. They're not too loud even outside in my yard. I do have a few trees in my yard but I'm not sure that makes a big difference.

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I lived in Kissimmee, a couple blocks north of US-192 on John Young Parkway in an apartment complex which is now a stylish condo called the Gables by Lakeside. It is about the same proximity that you are describing - about in between KIS and ISM. I don't once recall hearing train noise nor aircraft noise. I used to flight train out of ISM, and I know pilots try to be sensitive to noise.

 

That being said, I make no guarantees. Outcomes may vary by your personal situation.

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I doubt that distance will be perceptible by someone on the other end of a call. Even so, there are noise canceling headsets designed for call centers that can reduce ambient noise. I believe that they're designed to sample away from the main mic and subtract that sound.

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Guest ALX

I used to live about 100 feet from the Washington Metro tracks and maybe 150 feet from the RF & P tracks into Alexandria station. Other than the horns that were used infrequently, when the windows were closed, it was pretty quiet to me and I doubt the low rumble would really carry over to a person on the other end of the phone since that purposely cuts off low end. Even with the windows open, unless a maintenance vehicle was parked outside the window doing something it was never loud enough long enough to cause problems. For a passenger train you are talking about maybe 15-20 seconds of sound however often it goes by. Freight trains take longer, but once the engine is past you, the rest of the train just squeaks a bit if there is a curve and a low rumble. This was a moderate apartment, so I don't think they went to any special effort to do sound proofing. We did only have windows facing towards the station though so most horn blasts were before they got to our place.

 

As for the airport, you can look and see which way the runways face and get a general idea of what route planes will take in if you are close enough to the airport. I think you can also look up approved approaches and takeoff for some airports or the airport website may have information about their noise abatement procedures.

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I don't live near any train tracks (the nearest being over 15 miles away) but i live directly under the flight path of the main runway ofthe Providence airport about 20 miles away. So I have passenger jets and other aircraft flying directly overhead at 3-5,000 feet. It is not every 5-10 minutes, but I hardly ever notice any noise from these aircraft.

 

I doubt that you will notice any train sounds at 1-2 miles away.

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I live between a freight line and the NEC. Can't say I've ever heard either from inside the house (and rarely when I'm outside) and have never had anyone on the phone ask me "what's that noise". The freight line is just a few houses over from my house.

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Loudest: Big jetliners flying overhead.

Next: Any train blowing its horn.

Next: Freight trains pulling hard, as on steep grades.

Next: Fast passenger trains

Next: Freight trains that aren't working hard (i.e., light trains on level ground)

Next: Passenger trains at moderate speed.

 

I live about 100 yards from Norfolk Southern's freight line between Hagerstown MD and Harrisburg PA. The trains work fairly hard going uphill northbound, so they can often be heard, Southbound trains are quieter since they're going downgrade & not working so hard. Often, trains pass by without my being aware of it. There are no grade crossings near me, so the horn is normally not blown unless some trespasser is on the tracks.

 

When I lived in Chicago, I was not under the flight path for most air traffic into and out of O'Hare Airport, but some flights did occasionally go overhead. They were far more disruptive than anything I have to deal with today.

 

Amtrak schedules will tell you whether any Amtrak trains are likely to operate (and when) over the tracks in question, but freight schedules may be much harder to predict.

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Guest Metra Electric Guest

I live three short blocks from a Metra/Freight/Amtrak viaduct and am above the surrounding buildings slightly (and grew up even closer). With windows closed I can't hear anything except the loudest trains (horns are very rare as there are NO grade crossings for miles, other than for work crews which have been more frequent of late) and nothing when I have storm windows in. I'm also under the midway flight path (depending upon winds) and it's obvious, if not as bad as being under one for O'Hare.

 

I can't hear the Metra trains unless the wind is off the lake (EMU's are much quieter than diesel trains) and even then it's just the motors on starting or the brakes (the old highliners are louder but the new ones have louder motors I think) but I can hear announcements and bells and sometimes station announcements. CONO and Illinois service trains go through quickly but some freights are slloooowww and have idled on the viaduct near me and you can really hear them when the wind is right. Lately there has been a lot more locomotive noise, probably due to oil trains and increased freight and some have been very loud. That said, nothing beats being lulled to sleep on a summer evening by the noise and vibration of the freight train (felt more in childhood home, which was about a block closer).

 

All that said, someone on the other end of a phone conversation may hear the noise, both from plane and train. Being in Florida I assume you'll have closed windows and ac running more than we do here. The anecdote I always use is a co-worker who rented an apartment next to the el without realizing it (how, I'll never know) and dreaded it when she moved in. A week later she was on the phone and somebody asked her what the noise was. She realized it was the el going by and she had grown completely inured to it (I lived a block from the el for years and heard it with open windows that far away, though it didn't bug me). So trying to visit the properties you like when a train goes by might be good, if you can do it, of course.

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I live about 1.75 miles from the Amtrak station. I can hear the train horn on a cold and clear day.

 

My in laws live a mile from the station in CT and can also hear the train horn.

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Guest SunBelle

Thank you very much to all of the suggestions and responses :) I have to admit: I'm actually pretty happy about my chances now.

 

I've been cross-referencing addresses with Google maps and the LYNX bus system like crazy to try to find the best fit for me; so when I saw Amtrak and an airport in such close proximity to my favorites, my heart kinda fell--but now I have hope! There's a company trip taking place during the 1st week of November in Florida that I've already RSVP'd for; I notified my boss today that I'm going to spend a few extra days in the state to house-hunt. No sense in wasting the opportunity to scout out my potential new home choices and talk to the locals.

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Guest Henry Kisor

This thread has been a revelation to me, a totally deaf person. Never gave a thought to the noise trains and planes make inside dwellings. It's interesting to see how individuals deal with living next to the tracks, and how phone conversations can be disturbed.

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I heard the train horn quite clearly today. I don't know why it seems to be louder when it's cold? Or if the sound travels farther? Or maybe because the leaves are off the trees?

 

In any case the horn was quite loud today. I like it but I never would have thought that I could hear it all the way up at my house from the station.

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You've got it - less leaves means the sound can travel further. Also, cold air is more dense, which transmits the sound better.

 

 

Edit: Think about how an empty room with tile floors and hard walls sounds, and compare that to a room with carpet and tons of furniture.

Edited by RyanS

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