Sound-Reducing Windows Smell Like Burning Plastic After Exposure To Sunlight

The most obvious question of an individual living near an airport is how can you soundproof a window to reduce noise levels significantly. Window soundproofing is the solution for homeowners who want to reduce jet noise and sounds of busy traffic that can interrupt sleep. However, what happens if the way the window is soundproofed adds to the problem?

A number of homeowners have complained about the bad smell emanating from the city-installed sound-reducing windows. Polyvinyl chloride windows were installed as part of a program to reduce jet noise for the city residents living near the two Chicago Airports. The windows give off a smell that resembles burning plastic or an electrical fire when exposed to sunlight. The residents are worried that the off-gassing might be hazardous to health.

After making inspections, the city officials confirmed the smell in about 48 homes and have issued 28 proposed agreements for the replacement of the windows.The windows were installed by Sound Solutions under the Aviation Department’s Residential Sound Insulation Program to provide noise reducing protection to about 10,173 homes along the Midway area since 1996 and more than 10,900 homes near O’Hare since 1995.

Sound Solutions went out of business last 2014 but the city is still pursuing $13.55 million in judgment for false claims of participation in a program that will provide work for minority and disadvantaged businesses.

Meanwhile, according to resident Pamela Zidarich, who lives in South Latrobe Avenue and whose windows have been installed in 2011, testing has to be done before fall otherwise; the results will not be accurate because the burning plastic odor is the result of hot temperature and sunlight. There are also suggestions to include installed windows without detected odor in the Aviation Department’s inspection because it could negatively affect property value.

If you are one of those homeowners who are asking can you soundproof a window, there are modern joinery techniques that can improve the home’s acoustics for less money. Unwanted noise from the outdoors can be a nuisance and may have a serious impact on health. It prevents an individual from sleeping soundly after a day of work.

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