Cold Air Return

judi_eApril 29, 2008

My husband and I have recently moved from a ranch style apartment to a second floor unit. We have no real complaints so far. However, our apartment shares cold air returns with the apartment down stairs. This isn't a huge deal, but every once in a while if someone down stairs is standing in just the right place when they talk we can hear them as if they are in our apartment. They aren't being too loud by any stretch, it's just heading right up the cold air return.

Does anyone have any advice on how to mitigate this noise? I'm a bit creeped out by it because for the past six years we could hardly hear anything from our neighbors. Now I get creeped out hearing them in our living room, and concerned about how much they will hear from our bedroom, or how much we'll hear from their's. I'm wondering if there's a filter or something that we could put in the cold air returns to dampen the noise? Any other ideas?



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Wouldn't suggest that. In our house (bilevel) if one is in the kitchen they can occasionally hear a conversation in the room of the basement directly below the kitchen if it's quiet, because of the duct work layout. I once put allergy filters in the registers (made just for that purpose). Later had to call the HVAC guy out for a service call and he happened to notice the filters and said they are very hard on the furnace. They block air flow which causes blower motor to have to work harder to push the air flow and that strains it, causing premature failure of the motor. It's a whopping cost to replace one of those. The filters were not what caused the service call, but I took them out after that.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 7:56AM
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I hadn't thought about that, thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 8:39AM
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Talk to the folks downstairs.
Ask them if they ever hear you as clearly as you hear them.
Hopefully, they will value their privacy enough to appreciate your letting them know and will try to avoid that spot.
And if they let you know if they hear you, you can avoid talking from those spots, if possible.
Then turn up a radio if you start hearing them and put a radio near the cold air return if you think that your personal noise might be carrying upstairs.
Life in close quarters is easier with mutual respect - complete privacy is just not possible.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 6:39PM
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Thanks for the advice. We actually talked to the guy downstairs before we ever moved in, and he said he'd lived in that apartment for 3 years and never heard his upstairs neighbors. Unfortunately we haven't had a chance to talk to him since moving in, and we don't want to go knocking on his door because the property manager said he works really strange hours, and we don't want to end up waking him up if he's also on a strange sleeping schedule.

Actually it's really not a big deal. We haven't heard him all that often, it just really creeped me out when we did. As I said, we lived in our last apartment for 6 years, the longest either of us had lived anywhere after moving out of our parent's houses, so we really got used to it. We just aren't used to hearing other people's voices, lol.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 1:48PM
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