When Mike Donahue isn't working as a full-time fireman, he's pursuing his dream as a part-time musician. But Mike's love of the drums is not shared by his neighbors in Fords, N.J., who have to listen to his every rehearsal. That's why Mike's mom sent The Early Show an e-mail and hoped Rob Mariano could come to their rescue.
Marge Donahue wrote to Rob, who has been helping viewers since appearing on "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," that her son had recently purchased a small house and moved in with his drums. However, he also ended up with a neighbor who doesn't appreciate his drumming.
"I tried to soundproof the best I could, spending about $500 on carpet padding hoping this would resolve the issue," Mike explains.
But Mike's soundproofing job did not impress neighbor Ann Everson, who has been living in her house for 57 years.
"It's a very quiet neighborhood except for the drums," Ann explains. "We had a very heated argument about it."
"She's just screaming at me 'How dare you come into this neighborhood and make that noise.' I had never seen somebody so angry before…over music," Mike recalls.
"I don't feel there's any reason that at my age I should have to put up with that. I feel that I should be able to live here in peace and quiet," Ann says.
The town of Fords is bordered by New Jersey's two biggest highways — and just like a sound barrier protects the town from traffic sound, Rob had a plan to protect Mike's neighbors from the sound of his drums.
Before starting the project, Rob wanted to find out just how loud Mike was playing. Taking a reading with a decibel meter from Ann's driveway; readings averaged between 75 and 81 decibels, above the town ordinance of 65.
After Mike cleared out his drums, Rob and crew went to work, starting with the demolition.
"I have a lot of experience doing construction, and let me tell you things usually get worse before they get better. ... but this house was an exception to even that," Rob pointed out.
While ripping open walls in the demolition process, they found a little bit of termite damage under a window.
One member of Rob's crew was Brandon Tinanov, an acoustical engineer and vice president of Quiet Solutions. The company manufactures a product that looks like drywall, but promises to greatly reduce the amount of noise coming from Mike's home.
"It acts like a soundproof drywall that goes up like the regular stuff," Tinanov explains.
Meanwhile, while Mike's practice room was being restored, Mike and Rob tried to restore the frayed relationship with neighbor Ann, using some flowers and balloons.
With the soundproofing in place, Rob decided to take another decibel reading from Ann's driveway.
The decibel levels were clearly below the legal limit now, but Ann wasn't impressed. "It doesn't sound much better to me," she told Rob.
"Why don't you try closing the door?" Rob asked Ann.
"Because it's getting nice outside and I like to keep the doors and windows open," she replied.
Although Quiet Solution was able to significantly reduce the noise outside his home by nearly 20 decibels, Mike plans to add even more acoustical interference, in order to reduce the tension with his neighbor.