I need your help! I own a house near a state road (trucks, buses are allowed) near Philadelphia. With the bad snow years the past few years, our road condition deteriorated but not so badly (little bumps), but badly enough to shake/vibrate my home when big trucks/buses go by (about 45 miles per hour). I'm trying to find a way to perhaps dig the backyard about 6ft (1-2ft wide), and pour in concrete or something that can dampen the vibration (person from Lowe's said this). Is there anything I can do? FYI: distance to my home from the street is about 100 - 150ft (our backyard). I'm willing to spend the money as long as I can eliminate this vibration coming from the state road through the ground.

Things I have done already:

  1. I spoke to the local police station if they can lower the speed limit. They said "No."
  2. I put 2 tons of rocks against the fence (to the state road) to push down the ground to dampen the vibration coming from the traffic through the ground. It didn't do much (slight improvement).

Your advice will be appreciated! FYI: My home is shown here in blue dot next to the state road (Lancaster Ave).

enter image description here

I posted this to one person, but thought it can benefit more folks.

What I did (digging 6ft x 90ft inground trench, and pouring sand to fill it) didn't work. I ended up wasting $15K...My home still shakes, and I'm out of ideas... If it worked, I was going to put up some photos of all the work, but what a bummer (so if you are having a similar issue - don't dig!). I followed the research work by someone in Canada who I liked the idea of, but oh well. Asked the township to resurface the road and stuff. They'll do it over this summer, and I'm hoping that can do the trick. Below is the picture right before sand was poured in.

enter image description here

  • 4
    Move to another house further away from a big road? I'm only half-kidding. You're asking a lot. Low frequency vibrations and sound waves travel long distances through the ground. You house just doesn't have enough mass to really counteract it. A mountain might, but not your house. You'd probably have to isolate your house from the ground on some kind of floating foundation. It just doesn't sounds terribly promising, unless you can get the state to re-pave that stretch of road. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:10
  • Thanks, Craig. I know, it's a big headache... We asked PennDOT (PA dept of transportation) to repave the road, but was told to wait for year or two. You don't think digging up a 6ft deep by 2ft wide, and putting in some damping material/concrete would do the trick by blocking the wave to travel to the house? Even if we are to sell the house, I don't want to sell the house without correcting this for the next family. Thanks, John
    – John
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 15:35
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    Boy, maybe? Do you think more of the sound is transmitting through the ground or through the air? They put those concrete walls along populated stretches of freeway and they do make a difference, but they also run for a long way, with a lot of mass to absorb the vibrations. Just in terms of absorbing waves, sand might be better than concrete because the wave loses a little bit of energy every time it transmits from one particle to the next, as opposed to having a solid medium to transmit through. Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 20:51
  • I once checked out a house that was 100 yards from a 12 lane freeway. The noise was constant outside, but it was fairly quiet inside as long as none of the windows or doors were open. The windows were all high-quality double or triple-glazed windows, and the house was solid construction and packed to the gills with insulation. Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 20:54
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    From what I can see of geologic surveys in the Philadelphia area, you are situated on alluvial deposits which transmit seismic energy like Jello in a bowl. It will be nearly impossible to stop the shake. The seismic waves will just diffract under any concrete mass you stick in there to attempt deadening. Commented May 1, 2015 at 4:13

3 Answers 3


since its very difficult to decouple a home from its surrounding substrates, and sound propagation would otherwise just continue, you probably wont be able to do it unless you lift the house and isolate it from the earth. berms, walls, and other physical barriers would have to be carefully designed, and probably be massively heavy to have any effect - all costly and invasive.

however, you have another option but it might be expensive. you can have a sound engineer design an active acoustical damper for your home. basically it uses large subwoofers to blast sound waves through your foundation (or at least at your foundation from the interior of the home). the subs are triggered by sensors on the foundation walls and out in the yard and are all controlled by a computer. essentially when a vibration comes in, it blasts the opposite waveform and cancels it out. the issue is going to be finding someone to do it. i was part of a job fifteen years ago that had something like this designed and installed for a site for a large optical telescope, and it worked amazingly well. but i have no idea where you would start to look for the right guys to do it. maybe your local college physics or engineering department?

  • It's much cheaper to move than to do this. Also, easier.
    – diy
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 15:23

this kind of thing would be better answered with, sell your house and buy a better located home... but if you have the money you can have the house lifted and have a foundation built deep into the ground. this will largly fix it and other ways is by using newer home codes like 18 inch center framing with 4x4 doubled with 2x4s in each wall direction, newer or extra supported joist and heavy duty center beam running the length of your home. these fixes will improve your home value but but unfortunately not dollar for dollar lifting a home is pricy foundation is a fortune..... you can cheaply put your house on earthquake shock stilts this is pricy but lift your house 6 ft but you can skirt it and maybe customize a storage space.

  • 3
    What home codes call for 18" centers? Have fun finding sheet goods that match up with that.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 14:23
  • Thanks for your input @user37996. I called in the contractors for the in-ground barrier (6ft deep, 2.5ft wide - along my fence (~60ft)). I'm going to put in concrete to seal off any vibration from the road. Again, the vibration is not too bad where it is damaging the house - it's just gets on my nerves. I'm hoping the estimate isn't too expense... I'll report back here to share my experience with you all! I'm sure many houses along the road shares my concerns.
    – John
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 13:52
  • @John, how did it go?
    – Phil Esra
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 5:59
  • @PhilEsra, It didn't work. I ended up wasting $15K on digging 6ft x 90ft trench and poured sand to fill it. My home still shakes, and I'm out of ideas... If it worked, I was going to put up some photos of all the work, but what a bummer. I followed the research work by someone in Canada who I liked the idea of, but oh well. Asked the township to resurface the road and stuff. They'll do it over this summer, and I'm hoping that can do the trick.
    – John
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 18:07
  • Oof, sorry to hear it! Best of luck.\
    – Phil Esra
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 23:30

There is a way without dampening the entire house, but it will sacrifice square footage. Instead of dampening the whole house, you can try dampening just rooms, and only the rooms where it is important. The slight shaking probably doesn't bother you while eating breakfast, so the dining room doesn't matter as much as the bedroom, for example.

By isolating the floor from the structure, you could reduce or eliminate structural vibrations. You should hire an acoustical engineer to measure the vibrations and design an isolation solution for the floor in the needed rooms.

If, however, the vibration is more than structural vibration and also includes airborne vibration, then more extreme measures must be taken including dampening the walls and ceilings and added additional soundproofing in the windows such as replacing with triple-pane windows for example, as well as dampening the floor vibrations.

Like others said, the best way is to have the house lifted and dampened. Yes, this can be done. There is a market for lifting and moving houses. The same technique to move a house, or to add a basement, can be used to lift your house and add dampening. They jack up your house like jacking up a car, literally, and then you can add a dampened basement, or just dampening under the house, to reduce vibrations. Without an engineer to test it, I wouldn't expect miracles, so I would recommend an acoustical expert to measure the vibrations and then design a damping solution.

Do keep in mind, any way you go will be a considerable cost. $15,000 would just be the start of it, you could pay much more for a full solution. Considering this, you should debate whether it is more economical or reasonable to modify your existing structure for possible returns on investment, or moving to a new home for possibly less net cost. If you are worried about the morality of it, just be clear with the buyers about the vibration issues. Perhaps some people would be willing to gamble with it, or perhaps they sleep through an earthquake and it won't matter much. It's good you want to be up front with the buyer and I am glad you are going to be honest.

It does seem that your best solution will be to move, but you could try doing DIY floor dampening in the affected rooms as a preliminary measure to see if it helps, before taking more drastic measures; but be warned that a DIY solution for this kind of issue may cost you more in the long run without much result. Ideally, hire an acoustical engineer to diagnose the problem and then try to DIY their solution for the most economical, but if you do something wrong, it could all be in vain.

Good luck!

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