Ever wanted to just sit in silence to relax or meditate for 30 minutes? Then, you realize how noisy the ticking sound of your clock is and it just starts annoying you.
Or maybe it’s late and you’re having a tough time falling asleep, when you suddenly hear the tick-tock of that clock, preventing you from drifting off.
Read on to find out the reason behind that irritating ticking noise and how to make a clock quieter.
Why Do the Hands of My Clock Tick So Loud?
As your quartz clock counts the seconds, its mechanism will make a ticking sound. Old-fashioned pendulum clocks produce the loudest sound of them all, but this is because of their heavy mechanisms that last longer.
Modern wall clocks should theoretically offer you a quieter sound. However, if you’re reading this article, chances are you already know that isn’t always the case.
The primary reason wall clocks tick so loud is because of the cheap materials and parts they use. Cheap parts mean thinner materials and lower tolerances for sound than those made of high-quality materials.
They also make cheap clocks with a pulsed electromagnet that is powered by batteries. This works by pulsing the magnet to move the parts, which will consequently also move the fingers.
The combination of the constant pulsing every second and the movement of cheap and likely flimsy parts creates more ticking sound than you would want. So, if you’re using a wall clock that came as a freebie somewhere, chances are this causes your woes.
More expensive wall clocks use a pulsed motor to move their components, making it quieter. Plus, these kinds of clocks rarely have a second hand, or have one that only rotates instead of ticking.
If you want to avoid this problem altogether, we suggest choosing a slightly more expensive clock to begin with. Using higher quality parts will prevent this ticking noise. And considering how long clocks last anyway, this is a virtually simple decision.
But if you already have an existing clock and don’t want to buy a new one, here are a few ways you can quiet that tick-tock.
How to Make a Clock Quieter: Quick Rundown
There are 6 main ways you can quiet a loud ticking clock:
- Add mass to your clock’s mechanism
- Replace it with a main-powered clock
- Lubricate the mechanism
- Put the clock in a container
- Change the clock
- Get a new clock
Method 1: Add Mass to Your Clock’s Mechanism
Majority of today’s clocks remove the complicated components that old clocks have and use a tiny ticking mechanism and motor fitted on the back to count down and move the hands.
This method for the clock mechanism is great for wall hanging clocks. Bedside or alarm clocks differ, as they have their mechanism housed in the same unit.
Note that while this method will work with a bedside or alarm clock, it may be best to use the other methods below.
Just like normal soundproofing, this works by adding layers to block the sound generated at the source: the mechanism at the back of the clock. We don’t recommend paper towels for this.
Remember that this will only block the sounds coming from the back of the clock. You will still hear ticking from the clock’s face. It will also only reduce the sound and never completely block it.
How to Add Mass to Your Wall Clock’s Mechanism
- Take your wall clock off the wall and locate the motor in the center of the backside.
- Get a piece of fabric that is big enough to cover the ticking mechanism. Make sure there is some to spare. Try to use a material that is dense to block out most of the sound.
- Use packing tape and place the cloth. Make sure to completely cover the edges and create a tight seal around the ticking mechanism. No place for gaps here.
- Don’t forget to repeat this whenever you need to replace the batteries or manually adjust the time.
For Desk and Alarm Clocks
For a desk or alarm clock, you have no choice but to wrap all of it in a towel or quilt. You can even try a soundproofing material, like mass loaded vinyl or foam padding, to make it soundproof.
Method 2: Replace Your Wall Clock with a Mains-Powered Clock
Nearly all clocks we use at home now are powered by replaceable batteries. After all, we mostly use our TV, phones, or smartwatch to check the time in our room, so why bother spending on a more expensive clock?
Clocks that are connected to the mains will synchronize their time using the mains’ frequency. This means that they will probably not have a second hand, which causes that incessant ticking sound.
And even if they have this component, this will probably be the rotating kind, rather than the type that will create a loud ticking clock.
Mains-powered clocks might also sync to radio frequencies as an alternative. You can also get AA battery-powered radio clocks that make almost no noise.
Try looking for a silent non-ticking clock and see if you find one you like.
Method 3: Oil Your Clock’s Mechanism
Oiling is the usual way to make moving parts run smoother and quieter. This is the same reason you oil your bike’s chains or other tools, and can also help you with that loud ticking clock.
As a warning, this method is the most challenging compared to the others, as it will require a light touch and some knowledge of how clock mechanisms work, if you don’t want to accidentally destroy or damage your clock.
Clock mechanisms are quite sensitive and can be very susceptible to even the smallest of mistakes.
Note that this won’t work for most cheap clocks, as they will not let you access the inside of the ticking mechanism.
However, to check if you can use this, see if there are screws holding the cover or clock face in place. Then, take the wall clock apart to see what you are dealing with.
You will need to use a specialty clock oil to do this, as other types of oil will be too heavy for your clock. This means they could stop the mechanism from working altogether.
This method can lubricate the mechanism and add tension to the gears, which can reduce their noise.
If you’re oiling the mechanism to make it quieter, you may need heavier oil such as the 5W or 20W so that it can add all that extra weight.
Steps to Oil Your Clock Mechanism
- Remove the back panel to expose the mechanism inside. Use this time to identify the components and figure out what you’re dealing with.
- If you encounter any knobs poking through the back panel, try pulling them off or unscrewing them. Be gentle! You don’t want to accidentally ruin your wall clock here. Also, remember which goes where. We suggest taking a few pictures so you can put them back together.
- Now, open the mechanism housing. Be very careful in this step. Any forced movement might shake the gears out.
- Look for the gear that is being moved by a tiny coil. This moves the hands of your ticking clock, which means it is also the source of that clock tick.
- Locate the gear that #4 is connected to as you will also have to lubricate this.
- Using the end of a toothpick that you dipped in the oil, carefully place a single drop of heavy oil on these two particular gears. Do this by starting out with the gear’s bearings first, then slowly spreading the oil out to the teeth.
- If you are using the lighter specialty clock oil, spray a small amount on the mechanism to coat all the gears.
- Regardless of which oil you are using, leave the wall clock open for at least 30 minutes to let any excess oil evaporate.
- Finally, put everything back together in reverse and replace the panel. This is often the most challenging part if you paid little attention, so you’re probably glad you took those pictures we told you about.
Method 4: Put Your Clock in a Container
If you’re dealing with a loud alarm clock, bedside clock, or desk clock, this is likely the best method for you.
Choose a container that is airtight so that none of the tick-tock will escape. If you can’t find that, at least make sure the container is as heavy as possible. Then, just take the clock and put it inside.
For example, you can try using a Mason jar. They make these to preserve food, so they actually have a good airtight seal. This will keep any annoying tick-tock sounds from leaking out.
You can also use a glass dome or cloche, the kind they use in bakeries, fancy restaurants, and cooking competitions. However, these aren’t the most airtight option, as it only sits on a surface, rather than forming an airtight seal around your clock. However, it will reduce the sound.
The major disadvantage of this method is that it renders your clock unusable, except for checking the time. This means you can’t use the alarm function of the alarm clock as it will drastically affect how loud the alarm will be.
So, you will either not hear the alarm and sleep through it, or get irritated by having to open and close the container every time (though this may actually be a good thing for those who go back to bed after their alarm!)
Method 5: Modify Your Clock
Depending on the wall clock you have, you may modify it. It will be a lot easier on a small alarm clock than a large wall clock. However, there are some things you can do that will make a difference, regardless of the clock type you have.
Shorten the Hand
Your first option is to take the clock apart and shorten the second hand. They typically make these of flimsy plastic in cheap alarm and wall clocks, so it should be fairly easy.
The stepper motor that works the gears also controls the hand. This has a stronger force at certain points and is slacker at others. This change in tension is because of the clock’s construction and is how it ticks from one minute to the next.
Once the stepper motor gets to a slack point and releases tension, the energy will vibrate and travel down the hand. Often, this causes that loud ticking every time.
To solve this, you can simply cut the second hand down using a pair of scissors. The shorter it is, the less flex it will have in it at all. This means vibrations will easily dissipate, instead of growing larger to make more noise.
Just ensure you leave at least 1/4 of it behind, so you can still see the seconds passing when you need to, while reducing the noise it will make.
Method 6: Get a New Clock
Like we’ve said, if all else fails, just get a new non-ticking clock. While all our suggestions will help quiet a loud ticking clock, we just have to accept the fact that most clocks tick.
Hearing a wall clock with loud tick tock noises is inevitable if you are using a cheap one.
Most of them are not designed to be taken apart, so changing and tinkering with the gears can be difficult. Plus, these solutions can cover up the clock face or render it virtually unusable.
It really isn’t worth it unless that wall clock is worth hanging onto, such as if it is a sentimental piece or an antique that you’re willing to listen to that clock tick.
So if you really want the wall clock tick-tock sound gone while still having a perfectly functional clock, you only have one choice: take the wall clock you have, give it away, and upgrade your clock.
The easiest solution is to buy a digital clock that is more accurate, silent, and easier to read because of the absence of hands.
But if you don’t want a digital clock, then there are still plenty of non-ticking clocks out there for you. Just be prepared to increase your budget a bit, though not by much.
In return, you get a noise-less clock, and all the special features more modern clocks tend to be equipped with.
There are also many non-ticking clocks now, which will let you choose from a variety of options until you find the one that will suit the design of your place or room.
Whether you choose to DIY or replace your clock, we are certain you will find the solution to your noisy problem here.