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Keeping it Down: How Do I Reduce Air Compressor Noise?

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Anyone, who has either worked with an air compressor or been around someone else using it, will tell you exactly how loud an air compressor can be. The noise of the motor and the engine running at their peak can be quite distracting and even annoying.

In this article, we discuss some tips and give practical advice on how you can reduce air compressor noise effectively and focus on your work.

But before we jump right into the tips, let’s take a look at some common questions people ask about air compressor noise.

How Loud are Air Compressors in the first Place?

The noise a compressor makes varies. Different factors such as the engine’s horsepower, the unit’s building material, etc., can increase or decrease its noise. Most manufacturers will mention how loud a particular model is by highlighting the decibel-meter reading.

To give you some perspective, an air compressor is considered loud if it makes a noise louder than 80 dB. On the other hand, if the compressor makes a sound lower than 75 dB, it is considered a quiet one. Generally, most air compressors make noise that ranges between 70 dB to 90 dB.

Why is my Air Compressor Making Noise?

A noisy air compressor
A noisy air compressor

There are a number of factors that contribute to the noise an air compressor makes. Some of the main things that can make your air compressor loud include the following:

  • vibrations
  • material it’s built out of
  • intake
  • exhaust
  • where it’s placed
  • compressor type.

The intake of the compressor is the loudest component as it sucks in air to be able to work and power the tools. The exhaust is where the air compressor passes out the byproducts. Both of these combined can alone make it quite noisy.

The type of air compressor here refers to whether the unit was specially designed to produce less noise.

As for the location of the air compressor, it will be louder if you place it on a hard surface like hardwood flooring or concrete. Furthermore, if you place it in a large, empty space, it will create an echo, which is additional noise.

The noise these factors make is normal and a sign that the unit is working fine. However, if the noise gets louder than the usual due to lost screws, detached components, clogged pipes, etc., is a sign you need to get the unit checked and repaired.

Now that you understand how loud air compressors can get, let’s move on to discuss some easy ways you can reduce that noise.

Install an Air Compressor Noise Suppressor

The first and more effective way to reduce air compressor noise is to install an intake silencer or noise suppressor. The most high-frequency noise comes from the intake as the unit rotates air through a flapper valve or reed, which rattles and creates noise.

A silencer will help muffle the sound as it has an insulating material that absorbs the sound waves emitted by the rush of air. The noise suppressor reduces the pulsating noise and makes the sound much more bearable while working.

The noise suppressors or intake silencers come in the standard make pipe thread sizes. You need the size of the pipe thread on the intake head of your air compressor to get the right one. Make sure that you don’t use a filter or silencer that is smaller than the intake head’s thread size as it will restrict the air flow.

Use a Sound-Absorbing Air Compressor Sound Blanket

Air Compressor Sound Blankets can reduce some of the loud decibels an air compressor makes adequately. These blankets are specially designed with a material to muffle a certain amount of volume by absorbing frequencies in the fibers of the material used.

As you know, sound waves reflect off of walls and other solid surfaces. If you are near a wall in a corner, it amplifies the sound. You can use sound blankets in different ways to lessen the noise. For instance, if you have to place your air compressor in a corner where two walls meet at a 45-degree angle, you place them on the inside of the air compressor sound enclosure. You can use this method with both stationary and portable air compressors.

You can also use sound absorbing blankets and/or temporary acoustical sound-proofing material to cover the walls. This way, instead of bouncing off the walls, the sound will be absorbed.

Air compressor sound blankets can also be used by wrapping them around the air compressor directly. Large stationary air compressors are the perfect candidates for this method. You can use a blanket to scrape over the air compressor and other parts of the unit. You can also find blankets that are cut and stitched to fit snuggly around the cylinders.

* If you’re wrapping the blankets around the air compressor, make sure the cords, hoses, inlet valves, and exhaust are not trapped in the blankets.

Use an Air Compressor Noise Reduction Box/Soundproof Enclosure

noisy red air compressor in a sound enclosure
noisy red air compressor in a sound enclosure

The next effective way to reduce air compressor noise is to place the unit in a soundproof enclosure while you are operating it. By taking measurements of your in-house, small air compressor, you can use custom-cut materials to build one yourself.

The key materials are boards for the enclosure’s structure and the foam to muffle the sound. Make sure you cut inserts and holes for the cords, inlet valves, and exhaust pipe. You can also include a cutout panel at the backside of the soundproof enclosure for the power cords.

Depending on the size of your air compressor and your needs, you can build as simple or elaborate of a soundproof enclosure. If you use a stationary air compressor at a worksite, you can build a concrete enclosure with sand filled in the voids.

You can even go bigger and dedicate an entire room to air compressors with framing, multiple drywall layers, insulation batts, acoustical tiles, and other noise reducing material. You can also go the opposite way for a small air compressor and build one out of plywood and soundproof foam material.

Whatever route you want to take with your air compressor noise reduction box, make sure that you account for the airflow needs of the compressor or it will overheat. Also, the air tank needs to remain uninsulated to function properly, so avoid putting any insulation on it directly.

Keep Distance Between you and the Air Compressor

If you have space, placing the air compressor at a distance from your worksite will definitely reduce the amount of noise that reaches you. For example, if you are working in your driveway, you can put your air compressor in the garage.

Make use of extension hoses and cords to make sure you’re at a manageable distance from the compressor. The distance alone can reduce the noise by 25%. If you want to go one step further, you can ring the garage door down to the point where there is enough space for the cords and hoses can be passed through without getting bent or tangled.

There are some exceptions to this as distance can sometimes reduce the impact of air pressure. This often happens when you’re using the air compressor with a paint sprayer. The extension hoses lessen the impact of the air flow and make it hard to get a smooth finish.

How To Reduce Air Compressor Noise – Some Other Tips

Contractor wearing safety gear- helmet and ear protection against noise
Contractor wearing protective ear muffs and helmet

With that said, we have concluded some of the main ways you can control the amount of noise coming out from your compressor. However, there are some other ways you can lower the noise produced even further, by combining the above mentioned tips with the following ones:

  1. Use earplugs or protective mufflers to muffle the sound.
  2. Perform preventative maintenance at regular intervals to keep all components running smoothly.
  3. Make sure that the air compressor is always properly lubricated.
  4. Clean the air filter regularly.
  5. Have a professional take over and do the maintenance.
  6. Install rubber footing at the base of the compressor or you can also use thick rubber sheets to place the air compressor on while you work.
  7. Lastly, if you have the budget, invest in a high-quality air compressor that is designed to produce less noise.

The bottom line is that air compressors can be very loud. While there are models that are meant to produce less sound, there will still be a little bit of noise coming out of your air compressor.

If you’re not ready to invest in a new air compressor or don’t have the budget for one, you can give the tips mentioned above a try. Even the smallest change in decibels will be enough to give you a bit of peace and enough quiet to help you focus.

And if you’re willing to take the plunge and invest in a new air compressor, you can check out the buying guide we put together to make sure you get the best one.

Better yet, make sure to check out our top 10 best quiet air compressor list to see which specific models we recommend.

Product Recommendations

Here are a few product recommendations for some of the equipment we have mentioned in the blog above. Each product mentioned below is available at Amazon.

*Make sure you check the dimensions for each product along with other features to ensure they are compatible with your air compressor’s make and model.

Silencers/Noise Suppressors

This particular ½” PT thread air compressor inlet filter is designed with a metal body allows for easy installation and effective performance. On some air compressors, this Uxcell air silencer can reduce up to 10 decibels of noise.

This Walfront silencer is one of the highest rated silencers on Amazon as it works well with various air compressors. You can use this silencer on the admitting port of your air compressor to reduce the noise significantly with minimum cost.

Sound Blankets

This sound blanket for air compressors is one of the most popular. This sound blanket is designed to work on most large air compressors and have the capacity to reduce noise by 5 decibels or more.

Universal’s sound blanket accommodates a wider range of air compressor designs and shapes. It is easy to wrap and offers 5 dB noise reduction, helping you comply with noise laws and reducing noise pollution.

Noise Reduction Box/Soundproof Enclosure

This California Air Tools sound proof cabinet is lined with ¼” acoustic sound-proofing material. This not only reduces the vibrations but also can reduce the compressors noise by 40%. The 130 lbs. metal frame can be attached with 4 caster wheels, making the cabinet portable.

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