Hum/rumbling sound in my house.....electrical??

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  #1  
Old 01-11-16, 09:42 AM
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Hum/rumbling sound in my house.....electrical??

Hi All,

I have been hearing a muffled rumble/hum in my house. Sounds like a truck idling outside my house, or a train off in the distance. It does change in pitch but not in volume. Meaning it has somewhat of a pulse but the sound level is the same. It seems to be everywhere in my house with no change in volume as I move around the house....like what would happen if you got closer to the source.

My wife doesn't hear it and I have had 2 friends over and they don't hear it either. I don't hear it at work, or outside the house. I did see a doctor and my ears are clear...so I am assuming its the house.

Recently I had the following electrical work done:

1) My house has buried underground service and the service pipe from the ground separated from the meter. My electrician repaired the connection and we had PSEG shut electrical service at the transformer while he worked. Transformer is across the street sitting on a concrete pad. PSEG also inspected the work before restoring street power.

2) I have a Generac whole house standby generator that was installed after hurricane Sandy by a different electrician. While performing the above work, he noticed that the service connection between the transfer switch and the service panel inside the house was a 3 conductor rather than a 4 conductor cable. I verified this with my town's electrical inspector that it should be a 4 wire connection (no idea how it passed inspection 3 years ago). I had him make the correction and check all grounds. He now also services my generator as he is a Generac dealer. The earth grounding, he explained to me, is via the copper water lines as they come in to the house underground. There is a heavy wire connected to a clamp right at the entry point and that wire goes back to the transfer switch which he explained is now my "main" panel.

I started noticing this sound after the 2 items above were done. Thinking it could be electrical in nature I killed power to the house via the master breakers in the service panel. That interrupted electrical service to the house but did not allow the generator to turn on. Even after killing power in this manner I still heard the rumble/hum sound.

Thoughts?? Can it still be electrical? If I call back the electrician and he cant hear it, will he be able to diagnose anything to see if there is an electrical source to this?


Thank you,

George
 
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  #2  
Old 01-11-16, 11:08 AM
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I believe most automatic transfer switches use relays to control both the main/gen power as well as load shedding circuits. It's possible either a relay is going bad, or may just be reverberating against the case or wire inside. Turning off your main panel breaker wouldn't affect it since the ATS is 'upstream'.

I would also try turning off your water main and relieve the pressure by opening a faucet for a moment. It's possible the hum is coming from a faulty washer in a toilet. Just to cross off other possibilities.
 
  #3  
Old 01-11-16, 11:16 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Some people are very sensitive to low frequency disturbances. We've had members here before trying to diagnose the problem. Since the frequencies are usually very low they can be extremely hard to locate.

If you turn the main breaker off there is no longer any voltage to the circuit breakers in the house.

There is one other place where you can have current flow with the breaker off and that is the grounding system. If you have an electrician that will work with you...... ask him to carefully disconnect the ground/bonding from the service to the water pipes and ground rods if you have them. Your electrician should be aware of what disconnecting these lines means if there is a problem.

It is possible that due to a power company problem..... they may have lost their neutral to ground bond and are using your house. It is rare but it is possible and has happened.

Other than that I don't know what else to offer.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 11:39 AM
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Thank you all. I will give the plumbing a try.

Regarding the ATS, I know there is a switch on the ATS which is now my real "main" switch. If I turn off power at the generator and throw the switch on the ATS....would that terminate power into the ATS? Thus enabling me to determine if the ATS is causing my noise??

Thank you

George
 
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Old 01-11-16, 11:44 AM
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Regarding the ATS....would it be as simple as putting my ear up to the ATS? Or should I try what I described in the post below this one?

Thanks

George
 
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Old 01-11-16, 11:47 AM
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I know there is a switch on the ATS which is now my real "main" switch. If I turn off power at the generator and throw the switch on the ATS....would that terminate power into the ATS?
You have a service entrance rated ATS. The wires from the meter feeding the main breaker in the ATS will always be hot regardless of what you turn off unless the meter is pulled.
 
  #7  
Old 01-11-16, 11:51 AM
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I suppose it's possible, but any electrical hum should be at 60 hertz. This is a low pitch, but well within the hearing range of average people and should be easily identifiable as an electrical hum. It is roughly equal to a "B" in the second octave of a piano keyboard (9th white key). I can't think of any way an electrical hum could be at some other pitch or change pitch.

Can you buy/borrow a mechanic's stethoscope and hold it up to the case of the electric equipment you think might be the culprit? Shouldn't be more than about $20 at some place like Harbor Freight.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]61418[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 01-11-16, 11:56 AM
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If you turn off the main at the ATS..... you will have to set the generator from auto to off as it will start. Turning that main off will remove all AC components that can hum within the transfer switch.
 
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Old 01-11-16, 11:58 AM
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Thank you! I will pick up a stethoscope.

George
 
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Old 01-11-16, 01:42 PM
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Just curious....the ATS is outside next to my meter. If that is the culprit, wouldn't the sound be louder in the room with that exterior wall versus a room on the opposite side of the house?

The sounds is no different in my master bedroom which is upstairs on the opposite side of the house.

Thanks

George
 
  #11  
Old 01-11-16, 02:02 PM
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I would doubt the ATS is the source of your hum.
 
  #12  
Old 01-11-16, 03:38 PM
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Transformer

Is there a transformer near your house? If you have a large single pane window such as a bay window or "picture" window, outside sounds will be amplified in the house.
 
  #13  
Old 01-11-16, 04:54 PM
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Since you mentioned the water pipe ground as one of the last things you had done, would you feel comfortable undo that yourself and be able to put it back again?

Wear rubber gloves and stand on dry cardboard since, as mentioned above, there could be a voltage difference resulting in a spark at the moment of disconnection. Another way of making a quick safe disconnect is to connect the pipe and the wire with a car jumper cable first, then undo the pipe clamp, and then the actual disconnection, done quickly, happens when you unclip the jumper cable.
 

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Old 01-11-16, 04:57 PM
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Allan I believed that was covered in post 3 and maybe best left to an electrician to try.
 
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Old 01-12-16, 09:24 AM
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Allan & PJ,

My electrician checked that ground connection when he performed the work. He told me everything is tight and its grounded. So i'm not gonna mess with that myself

Regarding the earlier post about large glass windows......yes, I have a centerhall colonial with a large window above the entry door. The front of the house faces the street and there is a transformer directly across the street from the house.

I have stood in front of the transformer (again, no desire to get up close ) and I dont hear anything...no buzzing or hum, but its possible it is there and reverberating through the glass??

George
 
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Old 01-12-16, 11:35 AM
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My electrician checked that ground connection when he performed the work. He told me everything is tight and its grounded. So i'm not gonna mess with that myself
I'm sure the connections are good and tight but you are missing our point. There may be current flowing thru the grounding system that should not be.

If you turn the breaker off that is feeding the house..... you've disconnected ALL electric to inside the house. That rules out the normal house wiring and electric panel.

The neutral connection from the power company is connected thru the meter, thru your panel(s) to ground. That connection is still present into your house. It's a long shot but that could possibly be a problem.

It's extremely rare to hear a pole mounted transformer hum and I severely doubt it could be heard inside the house.
 
  #17  
Old 01-12-16, 03:47 PM
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Oh, now I understand. If there is power flowing through the ground system would it be an internal issue (meaning an electrician can check and fix), or an external issue (meaning my utility should come out and check and fix)?

Other than a humming/rumbling sound in my house, what other symptoms would occur if this was the case?

Also, the transformer is not pole mounted. Its a box sitting on a concrete at the curb across the street

Thank you

George
 
  #18  
Old 01-12-16, 05:22 PM
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Normally you would not be aware of a ground or neutral problem. You may possibly see the lights flicker. The hum is just a slight possibility of it occurring.

Since the transformer is ground mounted you should be able to stand right next to it. It would have to be pretty loud to be heard in your house.
 
  #19  
Old 01-12-16, 07:02 PM
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My guesses:
1-A reverberation from a hidden doorbell transformer. Noise could be amplified & carried through the structure.
2-A refrigeration compressor reverberating through the appliance and into the floor.
3-As mentioned by Zorfdt, a plumbing issue, such as a poorly-seated valve in a toilet, humidifier, ice machine, etc. Could even be an outside hose bibb.
Andy
 
  #20  
Old 01-14-16, 06:44 AM
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Hi Guys,

Well I spent the better part of last night probing my house with a mechanics stethescope and although I found stuff that produced noise, none of it resembled what i have been hearing. I also shut off water to the toilets...nothing, and hooked up a pressure gauge to a slop sink.....got 60psi on the slop sink.....wondering if that is too high.

I am going to get more people (friends/family) to my house and if nobody else can hear it I am simply going to conclude its me and my hollow thoughts

For my own education.....regarding the possibility of current running through my ground. Wouldn't a clamp on meter be a safer way to check this?

Thank you all for your help. One day this will come to a head and if it is something in my house it will be an "AH HA!!" moment.

Regards

George
 
  #21  
Old 01-14-16, 08:18 AM
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60 PSI is normal pressure for water lines. A little on the high side if you have your own well pump, but reasonable if the pump just cycled.
 
  #22  
Old 01-14-16, 10:32 AM
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regarding the possibility of current running through my ground. Wouldn't a clamp on meter be a safer way to check this?
Yes, that could work but not sure what if any the acceptable amperage would be.
 
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