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White Noise Generators

I’m a rather new host, and I live above the studio apartment that is my Airbnb space. I’ve just had a second guest use the bathroom fan all night as a white noise generator. The first guest had the fan running for the entire weekend, even when they were away for 12+ hours. I only learned that they were using it as a white noise generator after texting them inquiring if there was a problem with the fan that we needed to fix. Because I live above the space, I can hear the fan running all night long, and it certainly doesn’t act like soothing white noise to me.

So this is my question: Is it obnoxious of me to put a small note near the bathroom fan switch asking guests to either (1) ask Alexa (I have an Alexa Show at the bedside for a clock, music, etc.) to play white noise; or (2) ask them to use a white noise generator, which I will happily purchase for as little as $20. Even if the noise didn’t bother me, I’d prefer NOT to use up the life of a motor needlessly when there are (in my opinion) other solutions. Or is this just the price of running an Airbnb. I realize that if it were a detached space I would have no idea that the bathroom fan might be running for a solid weekend.

Thoughts?

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@eileenfeim, I have several thoughts:

  1. If your guests want a white noise generator, I suggest getting one.
  2. If your bathroom fan makes that much noise, it might be time for a new one. Some models are just about silent.
  3. We encourage people to leave our bathroom fans on all the time. Two of our three bathrooms’ fans are just about always on. People often don’t realize that running the fan only during a shower is inadequate. Mold can easily build up on hidden surfaces (even behind tile) in bathrooms. Having an effective fan on all the time is the best defense.
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One answer would be to provide a useful (small) sheet of commands for Alexa, including the white noise facility. People don’t always know how to phrase commands and (I think?) Alexa needs to be told to loop the white noise?

People who need white noise probably have suitable apps on their phones anyway so buying a specific machine would probably be overkill. @RebeccaF has valid points regarding the fan motor and mold.

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my $20 amazon white noise gen is a big hit in my rooms. Having a dedicated unit with physical controls is a LOT easier than commands etc.

also, rather than an on-off switch for the bathroom fan, use a timed switch; turning off at say 20 mins - and has a humidistat controlling when it shots off for humidity.

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My ceiling fans are quiet when you are in the room they are in, but I can hear the living room ceiling fan in my bedroom that is directly over it. And that ceiling is a 5 inch thick slab of concrete.

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I would put it somewhere in my guest guide rather than a note in the bathroom. How many guests have used it as a white noise generator? 2/3 or 2/100? Don’t overreact to what just a few guests do. White noise generators are fine but they do have free apps now that do the same thing. Maybe put the names of a couple in your guide and suggest guests download them. They might not even realize they exist.

One would think, but in the OPs case, apparently not.

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Hey, people complain about not being able to sleep because it’s noisy, and it appears it’s never occurred to them to use earplugs, which I always travel with. I use them at home if I have a heavy snorer home-share guest. There’s all kinds of ways to mitigate noise that some people seem never to have researched.

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When I added a bathroom to make Airbnb convenient my fan sounded like an airplane. The contractor told me it was because the vent pipe had to be so long. I put up with it for years. Then we had a couple stay with us who both worked at Home Depot. I apologized for the fan and told them what the contractor said. They laughed and said “oh no, you need a model such and such”. I installed the one they recommended the day after they left. It isn’t quite as powerful as the original but does the job and can barely be heard. If it didn’t mimic white noise they might not leave it on.

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You can also replace the switch. There are timer switches that have a set of buttons for specific times ( usually 10 minutes to an hour) instead of on/off. We find that helpful for things that we don’t want to have left on all day.

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Who are you suggesting use the earbuds? Me, the host, or my white-noise inclined guests? My guests aren’t using white noise to block out sound; they seem to need it in order to sleep. There are no external noises other than nature in my very remote, isolated location. As a homeowner and parent, I don’t want to sleep blocking noises that I might need to hear at night.

Thank you for all those good thoughts! Yes, putting the fan on a timer would solve the issue as would replacing the fan with a quieter model. Those aren’t options, however. My partner built this house, and he tells me that the fan is part of a triple switch in one box controlling the fan/heat/light unit. Modifying that system in any way would require digging into the drywall and doing a significant electrical rewiring – which he’s not willing to do.

Interestingly, my partner told me that a client whose bathroom he was installing made him replace the quiet model fan he selected with a deliberately noisy one – to block out noises one makes while using the bathroom…

As I noted in another post, my guests are not blocking out noise. We live on top of a mountain 9/10 of a mile from a tertiary road; there is 0.0 external noise here, and the room above the Airbnb space is used only to sleep in. Guests have no noise to block out.

I find it curious that people who need white noise to sleep don’t use their cell phones to do the trick. What if my bathroom fan was a quieter model or was on a timer?

Because I don’t want to have excessive house rules and only ask of my guests things that are critical to me (no smoking inside, don’t feed my dog, etc.), I made the post to get opinions if a sign by the bathroom fan switch was obnoxious, or it I should just suck it up and listen to the fan running continuously on occasion.

Nothing wrong with a sign asking guests to turn off the fan at night. I know you can’t do this now, but a friend had the bathroom light switch hooked up to the fan- when guests turn off the light, the fan also goes off. Pretty clever, I thought.

Yes, I was thinking your guests were bothered by some outside or inside sounds they were trying to block out and should just wear earplugs. They need white noise to sleep in the quiet countryside? Weird.

And yes, I would wear earplugs if something the guest did was disturbing my sleep. I don’t figure there’s much chance of anything happening during the night that it’s crucial for me to be able to hear. But I understand that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with that.

And I was talking about earplugs, not earbuds. Earbuds are what you plug into phones or other devices to listen to music, etc.

I do to. DollarTree sells a 10 pack of foam ear plugs. I repackaged into 5 individual sets in tiny plastic bags and placed in my “Use if you forgot something” basket. A couple sets have been used.

Not the solution for guests wanting white noise but a tool for the host tool box.

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I smiled at this. If there are coyotes. Bob cats, deer, owls, tree frogs, etc. the countryside can be noisy at night. For people unfamiliar with it, the sounds can be disconcerting.

Obnoxious or not, put the sign up. The running fan is keeps you from comfortably sleeping in your own house.

Perhaps put a mention in your guestbook that guests accustomed to city noises find it difficult to sleep in the countryside and you like xyz white noise app.

Yes. This is the way to save your fan if that’s what you’re worried about.

Great suggestion that I would never have considered!

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I live in the countryside, so of course- there are crickets, cicadas, night birds, and last night the bullfrogs were singing.

What I meant were things like traffic noise, loud neighbors, music from bars, etc.

There are very few, if any, places on the planet that are completely silent :slightly_smiling_face:

I agree but my point was:

I was walking with a friend in a state park. Crashing steps noise close in woods. She went into full fight or fight mode. My response: “it’s probably deer. Something wanting to eat you would be quiet.” :grin:

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@eileenfeim

I’m assuming guests in the studio aren’t experiencing noise from your comings-and-goings upstairs?

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