Simple Effective Way to Dampen Irritating Vibrations

A few years ago, I documented the many possible solutions I tried to quiet the mechanical vibration I felt coming through my floors, and which was disturbing my sleep. (You can read about them here.) It turns out, I was not alone in this plight. Hundreds of people from all over the country have written to share their story, desperate to find ways to quiet the vibrations that disturbs them.

Our ever-awake world is full of machinery creating disturbing vibrations that can travel surprisingly far, from construction sites to air conditioning condensers to ceiling fans.

After trying all sorts of ingenious fails — 80-pound handmade concrete blocks; springs; hockey pucks; space age rubber; bean bag pellets; yoga blocks; halved tennis balls; stacks of cork; custom-made shock absorbers — I finally found a simple, inexpensive way to significantly dampen the vibration: Diversitech Anti-Vibration Pads, made of a unique sandwich of composite foam and rubber. A set of four 4-inch square ones costs less than $12. (BE SURE the pads you are buying are marked “Wagner” are model number:Diversitech MP4-E E.V.A. (We’ve heard the pads are no longer being marked Wagner and are researching ways to verify them.)  I’ve found there are fakes which have no markings and smell foul. If you you receive pads aren’t this model or smell foul, return them to Amazon for a refund.

 

Placing the Diversitech pads under machinery like refrigerators and air conditioners will severely dampen their vibration. I put them under my bed legs to dampen the vibration traveling UP the leg through the floor and waking me every night.

 

Sally Schneider

Having tried various ways of using them, including stacked on hockey pucks, I found that simply placing one each on top of a small piece of wood, and then under each of the bed legs works best. (A reader wrote to say she found that placing them on TWO pieces of wood worked better for her.) Curiously, stacking the Diversitech pads seems to make vibrations worse.

 

Sally Schneider

 

NOTE: If you feel vibrations coming through the floor to your bed, it is essential that you get a wooden bed, which conducts vibrations far less than a metal one.

A quick solution is the inexpensive Nomad Hardwood Platform Bed Frame made out of poplar and available on Amazon. It can be assembled in less than an hour and is surprisingly well-made.

I made an easily adjustable bed skirt for mine to hide art materials I store under the bed as well as the vibration pad fix. Read about it here.

Editor’s Note: Sensitivity to vibration depends greatly on personal makeup and nervous system, as well as the degree of the vibration so we cannot claim this will work for everyone. But the pads are so inexpensive, we figure it’s worth a shot.

30 Responses to Simple Effective Way to Dampen Irritating Vibrations

  1. Elizabeth Wang 03.28.2018 at 11:11pm #

    I am so glad, Sally, that you’ve found an elegant solution to the bed vibration problem. I’ve wondered every once in a while how it was going. Thanks for the update.

  2. Jim Dillon 03.29.2018 at 7:37am #

    Congratulations! Such a difficult problem, finally solved.

  3. Laura handler 03.29.2018 at 8:15am #

    Congratulations!

  4. Cara De Silva 03.29.2018 at 9:55am #

    So happy that you found a solution after all this time and all this effort. What good news!

  5. Sally Schneider 04.02.2018 at 9:10pm #

    I actually found it some time ago, but so many people keep writing with desperate hopes of having a solution, that I wanted to do an official post so those poor souls would find it.

  6. Diana 04.18.2018 at 12:21pm #

    I’ve been in my building two almost three years. It’s brand new in a downtown area behind a Marriotts, also new. Until I found these pages, I wasn’t sure I wasn’t imagining, although my next door feels the vibrations too. It does keep her awake though.

    I’ve been sleep-deprived for all this time except when I get so exhausted I’ll sleep through it and for 12 hours, or when I take an ambien. My Dr. prescribes them sparingly, so mostly I’ve been tired.

    A year ago I searched online. What I found were people saying it’s the earth buzzing or some whacko theory about only a few people can sense the vibrations and it’s some unearthly phenomenon. Great, I thought, I am crazy.

    Imagine my relief when this past week I found your thread. Your misery has saved me. I will be doing this fix and look forward to sleep AND saying goodbye to the constant anxiety that -“Oh, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.” By the way, I think it is a sump pump buried under the building. I’m on the first floor, it goes on and off but this April it has been on constantly and it has been raining constantly so that’s my guess. I haven’t brought this up to management, like I said, I thought I was crazy.

  7. Somebody 04.23.2018 at 6:16am #

    I bought the originals and they smell like hell, they also do not work, the vibration continues.

  8. Sally Schneider 04.23.2018 at 9:34pm #

    Hi. I’m sorry to hear these did not work for you. I’m wondering if something has gone awry with the Diversitech pads, or if there are counterfeits flooding the market. Several sets I bought did not smell. And they did help greatly in dampening the vibration, so much so that I could finally sleep through them (as I was never able to find the source).

    That said, sensitivity to vibration depends greatly on personal makeup and nervous system as well as the degree of the vibration. I will include that reminder as a caveat.

  9. Sally Schneider 04.24.2018 at 7:57pm #

    It’s amazing how much it helps to know you are not crazy… Though I’m really sorry you are having to suffer through this.

  10. VIvi ratz 04.26.2018 at 3:40pm #

    If you think you are crazy, wait till you hear (read) me. I think the vibrations are from rats (or tiny mice, or both). They may be under the floor, or on your mattress or bed frame. Just a theory, but would love a solution.

  11. Diana 05.01.2018 at 6:35pm #

    Sally, after about 10 days, the vibrations came back. Not as strong, though. I used the pads but without the hardwood block underneath. Which I will get soon. The centers caved in where the pad meets the leg of the bed.

    The pads I have are about 2″ X 2″. If I find they don’t work as well once I have the hardwood block underneath, should I get larger pads?

    My hardwood bed frame arrived yesterday. Yay!

  12. Sally Schneider 05.01.2018 at 7:40pm #

    Hi Diana,
    Am I right that you found some relief for about 10 days, then started feeling the vibrations again though not as strong? If so, that is progress. I think a couple of things are going on.

    First, I found the larger pads work best, so you may do better with them. Second, I’ve found that I can get relief from a fix (like this) and then my nervous system can start to get attuned in a new way to the vibration (which hasn’t gone away; its just been dampened by the vibration pad) and start to feel it again.

    Your nervous system has been on high alert for a long time and that is not going to get undone immediately. I think that as you find ways to physically dampen the vibration, you will gradually begin to relax more, and then, hopefully, sleep through it. But you need to do things to calm your nervous system: meditation, the 4-7-8 breath I wrote about recently, exercise, etc.

    I’ve found that certain things can definitely increase my feeling the vibration. Stress and anxiety for sure.
    And then curiously, ear plugs, which I often wear because I am so sensitive to noise. But by blocking out all noise, they seem to make the vibration more apparent; some sound is actually a good distraction.

    Through trial and error, and deep listening, we gradually make progress.

    Onward!

  13. Diana 05.02.2018 at 9:44pm #

    Your words are so true!!!! Knowing I will get at least, usually, six hours before it kicks in. This isn’t an all-night motor. Thank heavens! I’m calmer. Before this solution – I COULD NOT GO BACK TO SLEEP when the motor shut off. Too stressed out about the whole thing. Now I can go back to sleep.

    I think too that the pads I bought rounded out in the middle reducing the space between the vibes and the bedpost, accounts for the vibes getting through again.

    I am so grateful to you. I CANNOT move and as we all know – sleep deprivation is a common method of torture – ‘nuf said.

    The only other website I found about vibrations was kooky = conspiracy theories – the earth rebelling against human abuse – you know just made me feel like, okay, I AM crazy.

    What blessing it was to discover your threads and how dedicated you have been to find a solution, not just for you but for everyone. Once you found the solution you could have just signed off – like “Okay, I’m fixed, you are all on your own now.” Bless you, for still being here for others.

  14. Diana 05.02.2018 at 9:54pm #

    Sally, I keep trying to post a thank you, the message I get is I’m posting a duplicate will try again later.

  15. Sally Schneider 05.03.2018 at 10:23am #

    Diana, Thanks so much. I am so glad to hear that you’ve found some measure of help here. I believe that it will improve further as you tweak the physical solutions and your nervous system begins to calm.

  16. Ryan Marcomb 05.09.2018 at 2:56pm #

    Sally,

    I am significantly struggling with this exact same issue and I am in desperate need of help. I do know where the vibrations are starting from which is a train about 0.75 miles away that passes intermittently through the night in addition to me being a very light sleeper. the worst part is that I just moved in my home which I designed and built myself basically my dream home and now I’m faced with this issue and don’t know what to do.

    I have a serta pillow top mattress which has a combination of memory foam and regular spring. I also very heavy adjustable bed frame with a total of 8 legs which acts as the box spring and frame. It does have steel in it but because it’s so heavy I thought that perhaps this would be better than a lighter wood frame and box spring that might be more prone to vibrations but I’m not sure if this is accurate so my next step might be to purchase standard box spring and wood frame.

    So here’s what I’ve done, I added 2 foam mattress toppers totaling 4″ between my mattress and frame and underneath each of the bed footings I have 2 Diversitech pads sandwiched on top of and below a think piece of wood. I thought for sure this would work but it did not. I can’t really tell at this point if the vibrations are at least “improving” because when I wake up to it regardless I’m super stressed out. I recently purchased and I’m waiting to receive a large 1/2″ heavy duty industrial rubber mat which I will use between my mattress and bed frame which my hope is that it will disburse any remaining vibrations that come up from the floor/legs.

    I do have wood floors in my bedroom and the house is raised on 3′ concrete block piers.

    I’m wondering if as you indicate the wood block on the floor and then a single Diversitech pad on top of it would be better but I would have to believe that multiple pads “should” work better in theory.

    I also purchased some sorbethane pads which I haven’t yet received but when they come in, I was planning to add to the footing stack.

    I’m running out of good options here and I just can’t imagine having to move because of this. I simply never even considered the train when buying this property so I’m beyond frustrated.

    Your situation sounds so similar to mine so I was hoping to pick your brain based on what you’ve learned and in relation to my situation.

  17. Ryan Marcomb 05.10.2018 at 11:55pm #

    Sally,

    You said that stacking 2 Diversitech pads didn’t do any good? I wonder if splitting the 2 with a sorbethane pad would help? Do you find the wood block works well? I have wood floors so I wonder if that’s the best way. Also, I recently purchased a 1/2″ heavy duty pad like they have at the gym that I plan to put between the bed and frame.

    This is the most frustrating thing ever!

  18. Sally Schneider 05.11.2018 at 11:46am #

    Hi Ryan,
    I have tried SO many fixes that SEEM logical but often have the opposite effect. So when I stacked two Diversitech pads, thinking more is better, they amplified the vibration.

    Similarly, after being advised to try Sorbothane (sandwiching it between the bed and 80-pound concrete blocks that I made myself!), I found the same thing. Talking to an engineer at Sorbothane taught me that the material only works with frequencies above 10. My frequency is 6, so Sorbothane has the effect of amplifying it. This also happens if you stack too many kinds of foams. You want them to cancel each other out, not amplify. If you read my many posts, you’ll see I tried gym mats, bean bags, air mattresses, various kinds of foam, springs on and on.

    Noise and vibration transmission being a highly complex and specific realm, three engineers I spoke to gave me wrong information so I continued with my trial-and-error process to discover what would work FOR ME and my particular vibration. That is what I advise for you. Persevere, test things out. I’ve documented my process to give people like you the info I’ve found. What I’ve found after all my monkeying around is the simple formula or wooden bed + one Diversitech pad on top of a wood block.

    Wishing you the best of luck.

  19. VicentG 05.14.2018 at 12:05pm #

    Hi all:

    I found this article searching rationale information about how to dampen vibrations in turntables. It’s out of the scope but just for your information, vibration coming to the turntables are clearly audible and therefore must be avoided.

    There is a lot of anti-vibration investigation and testing in that field and I would like to share my experience with you in order to help to to test a solution that I see you haven’t tested yet.

    Theory is quite simple: put a high mass on a small surface so the presure was so high that the vibration could’t be transfered. That is the principle behind the speaker spikes: Put spikes on the points where heavy speakers contact the floor, so their vibration when playing music could not be dropped to the room. For turntables the process is similar: mount the turntable on a really heavy plinth and put it on spikes to avoid that the room vibrations arrive to the turntable.

    For your case, you should act as the turntable: put your bed on spikes and in case you noticed an improvement, consider increasing the mass of your bed. I guess that it would work better in smaller beds since the surface between legs is smaller and therefore the resonances that vibrations could create will be smaller too.

    One last advice: do avoid spending too much money in esotheric spikes (and in the world or audiophile there’s A LOT of esotherism). The simplest, hardest spikes would work (in case “spiking” was a solution).

    Finally, some comments: I read you tried the high mass approach (zinc bed) but you didn’t consider using spikes, what is an incomplete solution. Foam surfaces act as a good anti damping solution when the origin of the vibration (for instance, a machine) is over the foam, but doesn’t work in the same way when you try to avoid the vibrations arriving to you.

    I hope it was helpful for some of you. As said by other people, there are different vibration frequencies and therefore different solutions. Please, share your experience!

    Note: I don’t have the smallest relationship with spike manufacturing or selling. As you will see there are hundred of sellers and shops where you can buy them.

  20. Sally Schneider 05.14.2018 at 12:31pm #

    I can’t thank you enough for this info. I’d read a bit about spikes but somehow they didn’t register. As you noted, I did increase the mass of my bed, even pouring four 80-pound concrete “legs” for it, to no avail. The spikes appear to be the piece that was missing.

    Do these spikes seem viable? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00309Q0VQ/ref=psdc_3236443011_t3_B003BFWQIU
    It seems like I could screw them into wood boards that would make a platform for the bed, or the weighted legs.
    (In the meantime, I will look at Home Depot for options.) AH, found a good Instructables for inexpensive speaker isolation spikes: http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-easy-loudspeaker-spikes/

    I/we very much appreciate your help.

  21. VicentG 05.14.2018 at 1:15pm #

    Hi Sally:

    Happy to read that you are testing my suggestion. Please have into consideration that the key is the highest mass on the smallest surface, what means three things: sharpen spikes, flat bases and hardest material available. My advice: go for stainless steeel spikes and bases (you can find them in Amazon, even cheaper than the example you put.

    About instructables, have in mind that the spikes must rest on a hard base or you’ll get a nice hole in your floor.

    Finally and again, consider testing it first with no extra weight in the bed (think that audio spikes are thought for supporting 30-50kg) and, in case you noticed an improvement, go for bigger, harder spikes (and bases!) and then increase the bed weight.

    Good luck.

  22. Diana Howell 05.17.2018 at 2:38am #

    Hi Sally, I bought Diversitech 4″ X 4″ pads. They worked okay for about a week. I didn’t notice that you wrote they should have Wagner printed on them. I came back for more ideas and saw that. I now have Diversitech Wagners on order. At Amazon the cost was $33.00. (Worth every penny)

    The regular Diversitech – no Wagner printed on them were $10.49, in line with your pricing in your instructions. I write this in case clarification is needed. In other words, if people aren’t paying close attention, they may, as I did, go ahead and order the $10.49 pads thinking the price fits, the picture fits…place your order. Only you won’t be getting Wagners.

    Here is the link to Wagners at Amazon.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073C93YFF/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I have my Nomad bed all assembled…love it. Thanks SO much for that tip. So easy to assemble, it was almost fun. How often can you say that? Excellent design.

    Where can I buy a vibration measuring device and what are they called? Thanks

  23. Diane Howell 05.19.2018 at 7:40pm #

    HI Sally, What are instruments that measure the frequency of vibrations called and where can I find them? Thanks,

  24. Sally Schneider 05.20.2018 at 11:12am #

    Thank you for your very good info. I’ve put a note in the post saying that if you don’t receive the real Wagner pads, to return them to a refund to Amazon, which is what I did with ones I ordered a friend.) VERY glad the bed has worked out. It is amazing for the money, really.

    A tool that measure vibration is called a vibration meter or an accelerometer. They are generally quite expensive. The vibration in my apartment was measured by a friend who is an acoustical engineer and borrowed one from his job, doing me a great favor. It was ultra sensitive and picked up the unusual 5 hertz vibration. His thinking was that if we get readings of the vibration, we might be able to match it to some mechanical, either on the roof or in the basement, a neighbor’s apartment etc. That means having access to the accelerometer for extended periods of time (which I didn’t), as well as access to the culprit mechanicals.

    I have tried various apps which purport to measure vibration but haven’t been able to wrap my head around how to read the various axis’. By the time I tried them, I had dampened the vibration enough to not feel it worth pursuing.

  25. Sally Schneider 05.20.2018 at 11:13am #

    A tool that measure vibration is called a vibration meter or an accelerometer. They are generally quite expensive. The vibration in my apartment was measured by a friend who is an acoustical engineer and borrowed one from his job, doing me a great favor. It was ultra sensitive and picked up the unusual 5 hertz vibration. His thinking was that if we get readings of the vibration, we might be able to match it to some mechanical, either on the roof or in the basement, a neighbor’s apartment etc. That means having access to the accelerometer for extended periods of time (which I didn’t), as well as access to the culprit mechanicals.

    Do an internet search might well turn up one in your area that you can rent. The tricky part is reading the results, which are on graphs that show three axis’.

    I have tried various apps which purport to measure vibration but haven’t been able to wrap my head around how to read the various axis’. By the time I tried them, I had dampened the vibration enough to not feel it worth pursuing.

  26. Sally Schneider 05.20.2018 at 11:16am #

    Please read the comment from Vincent D that gives an interesting solution that audiophiles use. I’m looking into how to apply it to a bed as it makes great sense.

    I found this article searching rationale information about how to dampen vibrations in turntables. It’s out of the scope but just for your information, vibration coming to the turntables are clearly audible and therefore must be avoided.

    There is a lot of anti-vibration investigation and testing in that field and I would like to share my experience with you in order to help to to test a solution that I see you haven’t tested yet.

    Theory is quite simple: put a high mass on a small surface so the presure was so high that the vibration could’t be transfered. That is the principle behind the speaker spikes: Put spikes on the points where heavy speakers contact the floor, so their vibration when playing music could not be dropped to the room. For turntables the process is similar: mount the turntable on a really heavy plinth and put it on spikes to avoid that the room vibrations arrive to the turntable.

    For your case, you should act as the turntable: put your bed on spikes and in case you noticed an improvement, consider increasing the mass of your bed. I guess that it would work better in smaller beds since the surface between legs is smaller and therefore the resonances that vibrations could create will be smaller too.

    One last advice: do avoid spending too much money in esotheric spikes (and in the world or audiophile there’s A LOT of esotherism). The simplest, hardest spikes would work (in case “spiking” was a solution).

    Finally, some comments: I read you tried the high mass approach (zinc bed) but you didn’t consider using spikes, what is an incomplete solution. Foam surfaces act as a good anti damping solution when the origin of the vibration (for instance, a machine) is over the foam, but doesn’t work in the same way when you try to avoid the vibrations arriving to you.

    I hope it was helpful for some of you. As said by other people, there are different vibration frequencies and therefore different solutions. Please, share your experience!

    Note: I don’t have the smallest relationship with spike manufacturing or selling. As you will see there are hundred of sellers and shops where you can buy them.

  27. Diane Howell 05.31.2018 at 6:32pm #

    Hi Sally, thanks. Here’s an update on the Wagner imprint. I ordered a second set of pads through Amazon. The picture in the ad showed Wagner printed on the sides.

    The sets I received only said Diversitech. I went to return them. The rep called the mfg. The mfg. said they don’t imprint Wagner on the side anymore, but the pads I had are the ones that used to say Wagner.

    This is model number – Diversitech MP4-E E.V.A.

    The rep is Danielle – here is her email address:

    [email protected]

  28. Sally Schneider 06.07.2018 at 10:31am #

    Diane, Thanks so much for this and for reaching out to the rep. The question is: Is there any marking by which readers can tell a real Diversitech pad? I’ve written Diversitech directly to try to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, am amending the post.

  29. David 06.07.2018 at 6:30pm #

    Hello, thanks for the post and comments.
    I live in an apartment building and they recently installed a new motor on the roof for the HVAC system that now vibrates when it’s running. It vibrates through my bed and has been keeping me up and waking me up the past 2 months. So frustrating.
    Previously, I had just a box spring (without actual springs in it) with the mattress on top.
    I ordered these Diversitech pads: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00BVEMLR4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    They say Wagner on them in the picture, but the ones that arrived do not have Wagner printed on them, and they do smell. I put them on small wooden blocks (4x4x2) and the vibration still came through.
    Do you know of any other decent wood bed frame brands? The one above is very expensive in Canada.
    Thanks again!

  30. Sally Schneider 06.11.2018 at 10:48am #

    I would send those pads back; they don’t sound right. (Amazon will pay for shipping back if it’s the seller’s fault or there is a problem with the product). I’m waiting to hear back from Diversitech about how to tell the real thing.

    As for beds, I am not familiar with bed options in Canada. Here is one on Amazon Canada. I have no experience with it but it looks decent enough. Check and see if the middle support bar is wood as well. You don’t ant any metal. Also check out Ikea.

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