Elevator noise in our condo
December 2, 2004 9:20 AM   Subscribe

We just bought a condo in a 4 story apartment. The one downside is that it shares a wall with the elevator, and it makes quite a loud noise when it brakes (stopping at a floor), but not when it's in motion.
What would be the best solution? Is there one? Is it too costly to buy whatever part is needed to quiet that elevator and have a elevator professional fix it? As we are new, I'm loathe to ask the strata to impose a levy (also because it's probably only a problem for the 3 other people who share a wall with the lift).
posted by eurasian to Science & Nature (17 answers total)
i assume you're in the states? here in chile we have a regular (quarterly?) meeting of all the people in the building. it's required by law, and this kind of thing is discussed. it's what the monthly maintenance fee goes towards. if you're the same i'd wait til then, and raise the matter. it's the responsibility of the whole building so i don't see why you should feel bad - no doubt the same funds will be used to fix things that don't bother you at other times.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:26 AM on December 2, 2004

You probably don't think you can, but you may very well get used to it. We bought a house that didn't seem that close to the train tracks, but every night the train went through and woke us up... for a while. After a while, it would kind of bring me up out of dreamland and hearing it told me the world was still working, and I could sleep peacefully. We've lived there 7 years now, and I can't remember the last time the train woke me up at night. Even if the noise is unbearable now, you may be able to get used to it.
posted by Doohickie at 9:33 AM on December 2, 2004

Where are you located? Most states require meaningful disclosure in the sale of real estate. I would argue that failing to disclose the noise created by the elevator was a breach of the seller's duty to disclose. What that means is that the buyer can sue or force arbitration, depending on the terms of the purchase agreement, for damages associated with making the home inhabitible (peaceful enjoyment). In other words, talk to an attorney. Also, talk to your realtor.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:37 AM on December 2, 2004

Ultimately, you could sue the Condo for ~quiet enjoyment of the property. But that's the :nuclear option."
Why don't you ask that they fix the noise? It may be tied to some old part that will need replacement for safety's sake anyway.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:47 AM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: To clarify, I live in Canada, and tbh, it's not THAT loud of a noise, I'm sure we could get used to the sound. But if we could quieten it a bit, that'd be better. I wonder if elevator companies give free estimates?
posted by eurasian at 9:59 AM on December 2, 2004

Eurasian, for safety reasons, most elevators are serviced, regularly, often under contract. So, it might cost the building little or nothing...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:26 AM on December 2, 2004

Depending on the nature of the noise, tapestries hung on the offending wall can help to dampen/soften the noise. Or at least they did when I had a similar situation in an apartment in the states.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:29 AM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: Hrm, if it is indeed serviced regularly, then perhaps that noise is not out of the ordinary, which means we'll have to live with it. Oh well, thanks all for the suggestions and input :D
posted by eurasian at 10:30 AM on December 2, 2004

Make the building owner aware of the problem and see if they have an elevator service contract. But I bet in a month or two it won't even bother you. When you first sleep in a new place, you notice every little thing. Once you're comfortable there and you know which noises are normal, you sleep right through them.
posted by Doohickie at 10:31 AM on December 2, 2004

The building owner is everyone who lives there, Doohickie. That's how strata ownership works.

Eurasian, I lived in a condo for a decade, and I assure you that you are expected to bring this sort of thing to the attention of the strata counsel and/or general meetings. This doesn't necessarily mean you will get your way, but no one is going to look down on your for it. As long as you're not too long-winded and whiney and irrational, at any rate. :-)

If the problem is due to mechanical malfunction, servicing needs, neglect, or somesuch, you can expect it to be fixed. If it's just the way that elevators work, you're S.O.L.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:56 AM on December 2, 2004

I have a similar problem (for me, though, it's the pipes that run through my bedroom). I suspect that a tapestry, or any other sort of noise barrier, will do nothing. Sounds like the elevator tend to travel though the structure itself.

Our elevator service contract handles routine maintenance, but most repairs cost extra. Still, this is what your association fees are for. A good way to push this may be to volunteer for the board, btw.

I have had good luck with a Hammacher Schlemmer white noise machine. It was about $50 with shipping, looks like it cost about $5 to make, but was well worth it.

But I agree that you may not notice it after a while - I barely even notice our elevator noise.

Those goddamn pipes, on the other hand...
posted by bonecrusher at 12:22 PM on December 2, 2004

A) You need to bring this problem to the attention of the building owners and managers--not as in "the elevator is bugging me," but as in "the elevator is making a funny sound, and that worries me". Perhaps servicing will help.

B) Should servicing not help, you might try tapestries, etc. If you are going to do tapestries, my recommendation is to buy lengths of acoustical felt slightly smaller than the tapestries and put that layer up behind the tapestries. Acoustical felt is not expensive.

C) Should tapestries, etc., not help, you can have a consultant come in and do something about sound-dampening or sound-proofing the wall in question. This could range from something relatively simple and inexpensive like carpeting the wall with a thick layer of acoustical fabric, then laying sheetrock over the acoustical fabric and repainting the wall (thus resulting in a loss of a few inches from the room's length or width) to something quite complicated and expensive like building a second wall and insulating the space between the elevator wall and the new wall with high-tech acoustical insulation (thus resulting in a loss of a foot or more from the room's length or width).
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:35 PM on December 2, 2004

I sense from your posts that you're trying really hard not to be a bother to anyone, and looking for a reason not to have to push this, Eurasian. Really, go to your council, or your complex manager if there is one, and raise it as a maintenance request. The worst thing they can possibly say is no, which leaves you exactly where you are now. The best thing they can possibly say is 'oh, that just needs some grease, I'll send maintenance over this afternoon', in which case you could be sleeping like a baby a scant few hours from now.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:28 PM on December 2, 2004

Response by poster: What can I say? I"M CANADIAN! We try not to raise a ruckus. I'll try some and/or all of the excellent suggestions in turn, much obliged :)
posted by eurasian at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2004

it's probably only a problem for the 3 other people who share a wall with the lift

Asking those other apartment owners if in fact they have noticed the problem - preferably before you raise the issue with the Condo association or the elevator company, or decide to just live with the matter - could also be a good thing (TM).
posted by WestCoaster at 2:48 PM on December 2, 2004

Often the problem with noisy elevators is caused by use of nylon rollers, as opposed to rubber rollers. Rubber rollers are much quiter, but need to be rpelaced much more often than their noisier nylon counterparts.
posted by skwm at 3:50 PM on December 2, 2004

I have to agree with Doohickie here.

I live close to an airport, and the only time I remember it bothering me was after 9-11 when the planes stopped, and I still remember how wonderfully reassuring it was when they finally started back up again.

I visited a friend when the train came over the tracks that are less than a quarter mile from her townhouse, and going "Whoaa, what's that !?!?!", and her replying, "What are you talkin' 'bout'.

My (admittedly lame) recommendation is to just wait a little while.
posted by marsha56 at 5:09 PM on December 2, 2004

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