The basics of vibration

What is vibration and why do you want to avoid it?

As more building users are disturbed by the mechanical vibration and vibration-induced noise originating from mechanical equipment, the HVAC sector has become more attentive to the acoustic design of mechanical equipment and installations. But before we investigate and share examples of how vibration can be prevented, let’s take a look at the definition and the side effects of vibration.

What is vibration?

In simple words, vibration is a mechanical phenomenon where oscillations occur about an equilibrium point. In some cases, this can be desirable such as in the case of a motion of a guitar’s string but oftentimes, vibration is undesirable as it creates unwanted noise and discomfort. Typical examples of unwanted vibration include the vibrational motion of engines, electric motors, or other mechanical devices or equipment in operation.

The sound effects of vibration

In the HVAC context, sounds are mostly generated as a result of vibration from a piece of equipment. Nevertheless, some types of vibration can also generate sound effects that are not detected by humans. But it’s important to know that undetected sound effects can also affect the health and well-being of building users. Therefore, the best way to reduce sound, both detectable and non-detectable, is to limit the vibration produced by mechanical equipment in the first place.

What are the most common sources of vibration in buildings?

HVAC equipment that is rigidly attached to a slab, wall, or ceiling can transmit vibration into the supporting structure and cause highly undesirable levels of structure-borne noise. This noise can travel far and can even spread throughout the building. Just like equipment, piping, conduits, and ductwork can act as transmitters of structure-borne noise if they are rigidly connected to vibrating equipment.

It’s not only the unwanted noise but there is more to it

Next to the unwanted noise regular and recurring vibration can cause other problems that can affect the equipment, the building, and its users. These issues include, for example:

How to resolve vibration?

Isolating the sources of vibration from its supporting structure by using resilient devices, for example, isolators is the most efficient approach to eliminate vibration. Carefully selected vibroacoustic isolators antivibration system need to be placed, where possible, directly in between the mounting structure and the equipment that produces unwanted vibration. The isolators then can effectively absorb up to 99% of excess vibration produced by the equipment.

Prevention is easier and cheaper than correction!

Correcting a noise or vibration matter can be way more costly than tackling the challenge before the installation of the equipment. The cost of correction can include the time required to coordinate the investigation, direct payments to the retrofitting contractor and the possible compensation paid to the building users who filed complaints. Therefore, you should always aim to prevent vibration and noise problems instead of correcting them. The negligible extra cost for prevention (usually about 1% to 2% of the total HVAC system cost) is money well spent compared to the second-best alternative, which is correcting the existing situation.

Learn more about the antivibration solutions from Walraven

In the Walraven portfolio, you can find a complete range of rubber and metal vibroacoustic isolators of antivibration pads, mounts and springs to eliminate vibration problems in HVAC installations. The isolators can also be easily integrated with other typical pipe fixings, rail support or rooftop installations.

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