Unless you’re using a reel lawn mower, your tool is going to kick out some noise. While this is something we’re probably all used to, it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. When you’re mowing your lawn over the course of spring and summer, you’re constantly exposing yourself to lawn mower noise that could damage your hearing.
So, you may have been wondering how many decibels is a lawn mower? Well, they average between 90 and 95 decibels depending on the type of power. And that far exceeds what is considered healthy for human ears.
The type of lawn mower you are using means that different ones will have different lawn mower decibels. However, on average, the sound of a lawn mower is around 90 to 95 decibels. When you compare this to something like talking, which is just 60 decibels, you can see that it’s quite loud. On the other hand, the sound of a shotgun firing is around 150 decibels, so you might say that it’s quiet in comparison.
The key thing to remember is that medical experts at the CDC advise that hearing protection is required for anything above 85 decibels and that includes your lawn mower!
What Is A Decibel?
Decibels are a unit used to measure sound. Human ears can detect sounds from 0 decibels right up to 140 decibels. However, the lower the number of decibels, the quieter and more difficult a sound is to detect.
The sound scale of decibels is what is known as logarithmic. What this means to us is that something that measures 20 decibels is actually ten times louder than a sound that is 10 decibels.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
There isn’t anything quieter than 0 decibels; this is a very soft sound which humans are just able to pick up. When we talk, we do so at around 60 decibels but once you start exposing your ears to anything over 85 decibels, this is where there is potential for damage.
It won’t happen all at once. According to the CDC, these sounds will cause progressive hearing loss which happens over time. This normally happens if you are exposed to these sounds for more than two hours at a time. However, if you hear sounds above 100 decibels then there is a very real risk of immediate hearing loss.
The reason for this is that the cells in the part of your ear known as the cochlea can be damaged when there is a sudden loud noise. As this noise hits your eardrum, it moves through to the cochlea which is made up of small, fluid-covered hairs. These hairs are called stereocilia and will react differently according to how they are stimulated.
If the noise is too loud, these tiny hairs are easily damaged and overworked. When this happens for long periods of time, the damage can become irreparable.
But that’s not the only issue since sudden loud noises or long term exposure to loud noises can also cause damage to your auditory nerve. This nerve is responsible for sending data between the ear and the brain and can even affect your mood. Think about times that you’ve been exposed to loud noises; you may have felt irritable and annoyed. That’s because of the effect on this nerve which can happen between 70 and 85 decibels.
So, how loud is too loud? Well, the CDC recommends that if you’re having to shout to maintain a conversation then the noise is too loud. There are apps and meters out there that allow you to measure sound so you can ensure that you don’t overexpose yourself. This is especially useful as the loud noises may not affect you right away.
Types Of Lawn Mowers
As you’re probably well aware, there is more than one type of lawn mower and this relates to how the tool is powered. Manual lawn mowers don’t create much sound at all since they have no motor but anything else will put out some sound.
How Many Decibels Is A Gas Lawn Mower?
When we talk about the average lawn mower decibels, we are typically referring to a gas lawn mower which is usually around 85 decibels. If you spend more than two hours at a time being exposed to this noise, then there is a possibility of hearing damage.
How Many Decibels Is An Electric Lawn Mower?
Unlike gas lawn mowers, electric models are a lot quieter. Normally, they won’t be anymore than 75 decibels but that is still enough sound to get your riled up. That said, the potential of hearing damage is not so severe and pretty unlikely in most cases.
How Many Decibels Is A Riding Lawn Mower?
If you have a lawn tractor that is pulling a shredder then this could be as loud as 102 decibels. When using this type of equipment, you run the risk of damaging your hearing after as little as four minutes! The same can be said for a riding lawn mower.
Lawn tractor mowers with a cab typically run at 92 decibels so you’ll get about 90 minutes of use before there’s a risk to your ears.
What Are The Health Risks Involved With Exposure To Loud Noises?
We all need our lawn mowers if we want to maintain a nice, neat lawn. But we really need to understand how serious staying safe is. These tools make a lot of noise and even though they’re a part of our daily lives, they come with risks.
The most obvious risk, as we have discovered, is the potential for hearing loss or damage. Anything above 85 decibels, which most lawn mowers are, could cause damage to the tiny hairs inside your ears and your auditory nerve.
This means that, when you are using your lawn mower, it’s vital to take appropriate precautions to protect your hearing.
How To Protect Your Hearing When Mowing
One of the best ways to protect your hearing when mowing the lawn is to stop the sound from even getting to your ears in the first place. Things like earplugs and earmuffs offer excellent defence against sound so let’s take a closer look at your options.
There are three main types of earplugs and each will suit different people so it’s worth trying them out and seeing what feels best for you.
For starters, you have rolled ear plugs which you roll into a cylindrical shape and put inside the ear, filling up around half of your ear canal. Once you let the plug go, the foam material begins to expand and will fill in the ear canal, preventing sound from getting through.
One of the main things that people struggle with is getting their rolled ear plugs to fit correctly. They have to be placed just right in order for them to form a seal and this can take some practice.
You can also get reusable ear plugs which are normally on a string. These are great for gardeners as they can be hung around the neck when not in use. Being reusable, you can wash these earplugs so they’re very hygienic.
However, they are preformed and so you’ll need to find the right size. If you don’t, then the plugs won’t be able to form a seal and sound won’t be effectively blocked out.
Finally, there are custom made ear plugs which are created by taking a mold of the ear and customizing the plug to fit. However, if you want these then you have to visit a hearing professional which will likely be more expensive. But you will get the best seal and they’ll be very comfortable.
Earmuffs are great if you need something that offers a good fit. What’s more, for outdoor work, they’re very easy to keep clean.
The main problem with earmuffs is that they aren’t ideal in hot weather as they can be very heavy. Moreover, if you wear glasses, you may not get the best fit.
Making Your Lawn Mower Quieter
Protecting your hearing is super important but it’s also essential to make sure that your lawn mower is as quiet as possible. The motor is always going to make sounds but these can be exacerbated if the mower isn’t in tip top condition.
When mower blades are dull, the engine has to work harder and this means it’ll get louder. A simple way of avoiding this is to ensure that you stay on top of sharpening those mower blades.
Switch To A Battery Powered Mower
Gas powered lawn mowers are among the noisiest garden tools so if you switch to a battery powered tool, you will notice a difference. You don’t need to worry that you won’t be able to get the work done in one session as many come with additional batteries and have running times of up to an hour.
Make Sure All Of The Bolts And Screws Are Tight
If you’ve got a load of bolts and screws rattling around when your lawn mower is running, it’s naturally going to be louder. Make sure that everything is secure and tight before you start mowing.
It’s just not healthy to work with a loud tool all the time but how are you supposed to get the lawn mowed in that case? Lawn mowers can be between 85 and 95 decibels which is much louder than your ears can take. However, using the correct ear protection and ensuring your mower is in good condition can help to prevent hearing damage and loss.