So I have this somewhat peculiar problem where my upstairs neighbor creates a lot of noise.

It typically starts at 6am with something that sounds like someone moving all the furniture around. It continues with something that sounds like heavy objects thrown on the floor (all of my porcelain and glass goes off like a storm), hand tools dropped frequently and very, very hard steps with hard-sole shoes around the room. This goes on without stop for a couple of hours.

Then it might be silent for a while, and continue, silent, continue with a 20 min or so on interval. Then typically silent from 3pm to 7pm or so. Then on for a while. Then on again at 1-2am etc.

Have talked to him plus asked what he's doing and if he could try to be more considerate, but only get a laugh.

I either have to move or go insane. As I have lived here for a long time and like it in general I'd rather not. As it is not music it is hard to involve the police. I work from home and even using sound dampening headphones with music is not enough to keep the noise away. Have also tried with ear-plugs + muffs but not enough.

Question is how I can make a device that plants sound into the roof and up to his apartment. Have considered a small speaker that I glue to the roof and play various tones at infrequent intervals, but not sure if it would do it. Should I perhaps go for a more elaborate device with a motor + hammer using some simple arduino program to drift it? Issue is also how to mount this. Remember as a kid we used a needle with sewing thread on that we placed on windows and used hardened sap on the thread to make screechy noises on the windows; could something similar be done in a roof? There is plates in the roof that might dampen the direct sound into plates anyway.

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    Retaliation is not the way forwards. Perhaps you already did sth to tee him off, who knows? Send him some flowers? Commented May 8, 2023 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


I know everyone is going to hate this as an answer…
'Retaliation' can work well, but only if you can use what appears to be like for like. It works for next-door neighbours or even ones below if the noise source is music or TV etc, but not ones above you. You can't walk on your ceiling, or even convincingly recreate the effect. Because of this, it never feels 'accidental' it's always going to be overtly confrontational.

It works best if you haven't ever spoken to them before, as it gives chance for it to just crop up in conversation - 'ohh, aren't the walls thin' yada yada.
It can all be explained as 'accidental', lack of realisation of how much the sound travels between the two properties.

If it comes across as actual retaliation, it doesn't work. It just puts you into a fight. If you've approached them first & got short shrift, you've already exhausted all your non-confrontational options. If you hit that stage, diplomacy is out. No-one wins, everybody loses.

I've been doing this on & off with varying degrees of 'force' needed for 30 years. Next door is usually short lease, so people come & go every 6 months or year. Most people are unaware of how much noise they make. It doesn't really bother me if they're doing it during social hours, but if they frequently come home at 3am with all their friends & put the hifi on full tilt, things change…

Of course, being a sound engineer with access to some rather powerful speakers helps. I can also construct soundfields that only consist of low frequencies; which I add to a player on a timer.
I've never had to do this twice to the same noisy tenant; though one was slow on the uptake & took two weeks to learn.

btw - my situation is rather different to perhaps most. The apartments in question have no commonality except for this wall. Different properties, different owners; so there's no landlord to complain to [or at least not without some legal searches to discover the actual owner of next door.]

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    Thank you. Yes, I'm rather unsure on how to proceed. I'm trying to see the humor in the situation, but not so easy in the midst of it ;), Thought was that such a device could make him come down and ask what the sound is and then explain - yes, that's how sound travels - lets be friends and work for a solution :D The sound fields approach sounds interesting from a technical perspective as well. All in all I find your answer to be reflective, useful and fun. At this stage I think it's about conveying how much of a nuisance it is – not revenge. All in all I guess it's a lost battle haha, Commented May 9, 2023 at 11:38

Depending upon the kind of landlord you have, and upon what legal jurisdiction you live within (some give almost all power to the tenant), you might try talking to your landlord about it.

Be friendly, not confrontational (you don't want to create a new enemy), but do mention that you are considering looking for another place to live.

If you're a long-time tenant, who's always paid rent on time and hasn't generated any complaints in the past, the landlord is more likely to be sympathetic to your problem, wanting to keep you on rather than having to find a replacement tenant (who in turn is likely to have the same complaint).

You might also check with other tenants to see whether they are also experiencing problems with that tenant.

  • Yes. I have sent e-mail to the landlord, but not much help. I'm always over-friendly in those e-mails hah. Have rented for over 10 years (stupid me) and though there have been issues with other tenants upstairs (nachspiel 6 days a week, using high heels indoors pacing for hours etc. lol) ~ we have had no problem finding a solution once the issue has been explained in a nice way. Talked to another tenant that ended up calling the police on him. It's an interesting conundrum into psychology and tactics. Thanks for pointers. This Q steered from a practical to a psychological topic, but hey :) Commented May 10, 2023 at 17:03

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