Karen Stables, Marketing Manager at Wavin, explains how installers can select innovative low noise wastewater systems to create quieter spaces.

With more people than ever working from home in the last year, making sure spaces are quiet has become a top priority for many. This means that distractions, like unwanted noise from plumbing systems, need to be kept to a minimum.

Wastewater is often overlooked when it comes to contributing to noise pollution in the home but, with more people spending time indoors and wastewater circulating at higher volumes, it is likely to be a major source of irritation for many around the country. 

Installers can play a key role when it comes to tackling it on a range of projects as, although wastewater noise in multi-occupancy buildings like blocks of flats or apartments tends to be more prevalent, terraces and any houses with drainage running through shared walls are also at risk.

What do the regs say?

In the UK, Building Regulations (2010) Approved Document E specifies that any wall or floor in a residence should reduce the noise transmitted to the next room by 45dB or more. Many aspects of building design, such as insulation and flooring, focus on acoustics to help create quieter environments. But current regulations don’t take into account the noise from wastewater running through pipes in walls and ceilings.

Despite this, installers and contractors should be aware that a wastewater system can have a significant impact on noise levels in an adjoining property, and factor in solutions to address this. Plus, tackling issues such as noise from wastewater systems will leave your customers happier in the long run, meaning they’re more likely to recommend you for future work.

If you want to calculate the acoustic levels of a whole system before you even start, an easy way to do this is with Wavin’s online Soundcheck Tool. It simulates system acoustics in a final installation, and calculates noise levels based on factors like room dimensions, duct construction material, and more.

Managing noise levels

The noise from wastewater systems can be categorised in two ways – airborne noise and structure-borne noise. Airborne noise is created by wastewater flowing through pipes, whereas structure-borne noise occurs because of vibrations when pipes are in contact with the fabric of the building. 

This means that it’s not just piping that affects the noise level, but also the brackets and wall materials, which may require more insulation. So, for installers fitting soil and waste solutions, it’s important to consider the whole system, not just the pipe.

Traditionally, wrapping pipes with insulation is the most common method of noise control, typically using fibre sheeting or mineral wool to help absorb some of the sound. Structural design can also be effective, including light direction changes to soften the flow, and mounted pipe supports on the heaviest walls, all helping to minimise vibrations. However, as each system is different, these measures sometimes aren’t enough on their own.

Product innovations

You’ve considered the noise from the structure, so what about the pipes themselves? Innovations in manufacturing mean that new sound-attenuated pipes are now available to help installers manage the impact of noise pollution from wastewater. These are made from dense, sound-absorbing materials, which minimise the amount of noise escaping from the pipe. 

So, before you get to work on your next project, it’s worth considering all aspects of a wastewater system; from the pipes, right through to the structure and insulation. By using the latest low noise innovations, not only is the end result the best it can be for customers, but your work is also future-proofed for generations.