Humming noise in the house


Old 10-24-05, 11:46 PM
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Humming noise in the house

Hi there! Not sure this is the right place to be but maybe someone could give suggestions.

There is a nonstop mechanical/vibrating hum throughout the house (one-story with full basement, 40 years old). Volume usually low but can double enough to wake me up at night. No noise outside. Turned off main circuit breaker twice and the noise was still there. Neighbors next door and 2 doors down and one at a diagonal to me do not hear it but said they have background noise on all the time. Another neighbor about 1/8 mile away (maybe less) has same symptoms. I walked about 1/2 mile in all directions from my house and could not hear any engines or mechanical units running. Electric company technician did not know what it was. Read somewhere else that it might be a transforming in the house that needs replacing, but wouldn't turning off the breaker also turn that off? Any ideas on where to go from here? Are there pros out there who can pinpoint where underground noises come from? Thanks for reading.
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Old 10-25-05, 06:18 AM
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Location: Asheboro, NC
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If it was something electrical in your house, it should have stopped when you tripped the main breaker in your panel.
Is there any noise coming from your meter?
There are a few things that have been known to cause humming or vibrating in a house, sometimes a water leak can send harmonics up your copper pipe.
Where in the country are you, and are there any mines around?

Have you actually put your head to the ground to rule out an outside source?
Old 10-25-05, 08:57 AM
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To completely rule out electrical, you need to turn off the main breaker and measure for current on the phases and ground too.
Old 10-25-05, 09:28 AM
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I doubt the problem is electrical if it is loud enough to wake you up at night.

Old 10-25-05, 01:51 PM
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It could be a plumbing issue too. A washer vibrating in a line/etc. Turn your water off.

Or you have the largest bees nest ever found in your attic...
Old 10-25-05, 03:20 PM
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Hey, thanks for responding! Sorry to have wasted your time but most likely is not electrical (see note to Handyron). I am now considering gas and/or water lines, or if someone installed a water pump or something in one of the fields, even though the people I talked to in the area had not nor noticed anything. Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. I will file them for the future.

Stevetra: I live sort of in the country--plenty homes but cow pastures, too. Lots of room for sound to travel above and below. The water department person did not think it was water related as it should happen only when in use but said to call back if not resolved. This morning when talking with a neighbor far down the street, I could barely hear a mechanical humming noise across open space toward the power substation but I walked past it and it was making very little noise above ground. I was told the lines are all above ground from there to my street. The house next to the substation has not had any noticable different noises above or below.

Handyron: Here's one better--the power company shut down power to the neighborhood this morning while working on a transformer. Noise was still there. Engineer said she would talk to the phone co because it might be a phone line problem.

Dave: Probably just a very light sleeper, even though I slept through a small earthquake once. I must hear a different frequency than most because the power company engineer and her helper could not hear it. Before you say it, no, I do not need a psychiatrist...yet.

Hellrazor: I heard the noise above ground in the distance today but if it is not elec or phone, I will call the water company back and see if they have any ideas. Maybe instruments that can detect underground sounds so we can find out where this is originating from. As for bees, I would welcome them--free honey!

Anyway, again, thanks everyone.
Old 10-25-05, 03:24 PM
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Have you tried Hellrazor's suggestion of turning the water off? It could be a leak somewhere.
Old 10-25-05, 06:13 PM
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Just a wild card thought. My neighbor has an areobic type septic system and when it runs, it emits a high pitched sound, not usually noticable during the day, but we can hear it at night at a distance of about 100'. Since you said that you live in a semi rural area, it's one more thing to check.
Old 10-27-05, 02:14 PM
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John Nelson: It's embarrassing but I could not turn the water valve inside the house, it's too tight, and I don't know how to turn if off the outside valve, so I had been waiting for the weekend when my bro will be here. Will have him loosen up the inside valve for me, too, for emergencies.

Goldstar: Thanks for the tip. Too bad for you--must be annoying. Problem here is that I asked everyone around if they installed or saw someone install anything underground, negative.

Update: Wednesday afternoon the noise gradually lessened until sometimes it was inaudible and stays that way today (Thursday). Maybe it was a short-term pumping of some sort, or word finally got to the unaware "offender" that their machinery or whatever was causing problems and they lessened the power on it. No matter, it is nice to have a quiet house again. On the bright side, I now have met ALL of my neighbors, and even some beyond the neighborhood.

Again, thanks!

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