Car wash noise is one of the many challenges that car wash owners and operators face. Neighbors, municipal regulations, and OSHA all demand that the volume on every aspect of car wash operations be lowered. Car wash noise is unavoidable. Water pumps, hydraulics, vac motors, air dryers, and blowers all contribute to the 89 decibels that might be measured from outside.
According to many state and federal regulations, car wash noise should not be over 85 decibels. In addition to concerns with business neighbors and regulations, noise can be detrimental to employees. An area with loud, continuous noise is less safe for employees and productivity decreases. Sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Neighborhood residents and nearby businesses can also rally behind noise levels to prevent car washes from opening in their areas or take legal action against existing car washes pumping out excessive noise. But what can a car wash owner do to address noise reduction?
Ideas to Reduce Car Wash Noise Escaping to Surrounding Area
In other commercial environments, it’s possible to use insulation, soundproofing panels, and other acoustic treatments to cut down on excessive noise. This is difficult – if not downright impossible – to do in a car wash environment. Insulation and panels consist of materials that don’t stand up to wet environments. Their vulnerability to corrosion and mold makes them less than ideal for car washes. Here are a few alternative ideas to address sound leaving your property:
- Build a fence – This might be costly, but as long as it’s relatively tall it will block a lot of sound. It also has the benefits of added security and clear marking of property lines.
- Maintain lubrication of motors and equipment – This is obviously beneficial to the general performance and lifespan of your equipment anyway. Keeping things running smoothly will limit noise too.
- Switch to electric motors in applications where it’s possible – If you take a close look at your setup, you might find instances where a quiet electric motor can replace a loud gas combustion engine. It may also end up being significantly more efficient.
- Remodel – This would be only in extreme cases where excessive noise is causing serious trouble and no other solution is working. If your location is a prime spot, remodeling your building might be worth it.
Reducing Noise for Employees Inside the Car Wash
Train employees on sound level safety, and look into requiring hearing protection, either ear muffs or plugs. Test employees’ hearing regularly and keep track of any changes to ensure safety and productivity. When considering opening a car wash in a densely populated area, consider constructing a wall to lessen the noise impact on any nearby residential neighbors, or build separate areas for the air dryers and consider placing the blowers, often the noisiest part of the car wash, underground.
Alternately, consider installing variable frequency drives on blowers to power the motors down depending on the delays between cars. Owners have also moved hydraulics to an equipment room and added increased sound insulation to the equipment room. Other operators have opted for quieter car wash parts, such as dryers which include a silencer package.