Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I cannot find the source of a constant noise & vibration that have recently (month or so) been happening in our single-family house. I've asked 2 different people, including our handyman, who checked several things, but so far only I have been able to hear/feel it.

We are hundreds of feet away from any neighbors. I've lived in several apartments and if this weren't a single-family not right next to anyone I'd be sure the noise I was hearing was either 1) a neighbor in an apartment below (only a crawlspace there) playing either an upright bass, constantly day in, day out, or music with a deep bass line.. or 2) Someone's tv on very loud at a distance, or 3) An engine of a machine of some sort with a low, constant, repetitive bass sound. Rapid Boom boom boom boom, Boom boom boom boom, over and over; I can feel the vibration in my feet or in my hand if I put it on the wall.

The house has electric baseboard heat, there is no furnace. There is a new sump pump that was installed around the time of the noise starting, cut the circuit to it off, no difference in the sound. Unplugged the fridge, no difference in the sound. I walked around the entire neighborhood trying to hear if it was coming from someone's house; nothing. The only thing we haven't tried is cutting off all electricity to the house. I guess that will be next.

It's beginning to really wear on me just as though a neighbor were playing loud music non-stop on and on and on, and I'm afraid it will begin to affect my health if it keeps up. Does anyone here have any ideas, suggestions? I hope??!!

share|improve this question
    
When the new sump pump was installed, was a backup water powered unit also installed? Can you feel/hear the sound stronger in different areas of the house? –  Tester101 Oct 24 '13 at 11:13
    
Inc addition to turning off the main breaker, try turning off your water and gas, too. –  longneck Oct 24 '13 at 11:18
    
Check under the floorboards for an old man –  mac Oct 25 '13 at 16:37
    
Do you live in an area with a constant breeze? Maybe wind is causing some resonance with some opening into your house (chimney, oven/dryer vent, a window, skylight, etc). If you have a fireplace, try closing (or opening) the damper and see if that makes a difference. –  Johnny Oct 25 '13 at 21:24
    
Try reading the Wikipedia article on "The Hum". You are not alone... –  User58220 Oct 27 '13 at 2:40

6 Answers 6

Throwing the main breaker on your electric panel is easy; you should try that. If cutting the power to the whole house stops the problem, then turn the power back on and start turning off circuits one-by-one. Hopefully they're labeled so you can identify the appliance or room, but this may take some trial-and-error.

Here are some other possibilities I can think of:

  • Pump for well water (if you have it).
  • Some other vibration coming in via municipal water line (although I can't imagine what would cause repetitive vibrations from a water main). If you do get water from your city/town, try to find the main service entrance and put your hand on it, to see if the pipe is vibrating.
  • An exhaust fan: maybe in your attic?
  • Radon mitigation fan (these typically run 24/7, drawing air out of your basement/crawlspace, through a duct).
share|improve this answer
    
you mention an attic exhaust fan, turbine vents, while they have no motors, can cause vibrations as they spin in the breeze. I can hear one all throughout our house when there's a stiff breeze on a quiet day. –  mac Oct 25 '13 at 16:48

Is there any chance that, with the new sump, you also had a radon mitigation fan installed? A radon mitigation fan runs continuously. They are placed outside the living space - so in the attic, or sometimes in a box on the side of the house. They are not small.

Failing that, I suggest you go put your hands on the sump cover to see if you feel it there.

share|improve this answer

Several things to check for:

  • Any construction activity in the neighborhood? Deep-earth vibrations can travel several miles under the right conditions.
  • Have you checked with your closest neighbors to see if they're running music non-stop? This happens, my neighbors are a little funky, and the first few months in our house was painful until we got used to it.
  • Don't laugh, but where do you live? You might want to read up on the Taos Hum. Happens all over.
share|improve this answer

It is a very low sound? Low sounds can travel much further and often are incredibly hard to discern direction from. I use to live in a house where, at night, in certain rooms I could hear the hum of parked refrigerator cars from the rail lines a few miles away. Few others could hear it.

So, the good news is that you probably have really good hearing. Alas, that's also the bad news. If it's a low sound, it's really impossible to say what it is. It could very well be some mechanical sound coming from some distance away just happening to bounce off the right objects to find its way into your ears.

share|improve this answer

I had something similar to this in the house I grew up in. It was the doorbell transformer attached to a junction box in the crawlspace. If you have (or the house ever had) a hardwired doorbell system, look around for the transformer it probably has.

share|improve this answer

If you have a radon mitigation system, then you may want to go outside of your home and turn off the fan to see if the deep base vibration stops. If so, then your fan maybe iced up and need to defrost or you may have other issues with your fan that need to be addressed.

share|improve this answer

protected by Community Jan 16 at 11:40

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.