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For the last 3 months or so, I have been able to hear what I can only describe as a continuous vibrational humming (mid-high pitch) The sound is a bit like the after effect when you bang a xylophone.

I have not slept properly for months. I don’t hear it when at my folks' house or in a hotel, so I’ve excluded tinnitus. My husband doesn’t seem to be able to hear it though. I hear it loudly and constantly and have to put the tv on in order to get any respite from the sound.

We have lived in this 3-storey house for 8 months, we are built partially into the hillside, semi-rural. It was deafeningly quiet up until 3 months ago. I can hear it in every room pretty much, some slightly worse than others.

We’ve checked the electrics - changed transformers just in case, and still hear it. We’ve switched everything off in the house to test (gas/electrics) and still hear it.

It coincided I think with my neighbors doing building and renovation work. New basement swimming pool pump, and air conditioning/ heating system installed. They are over 20metres away from our property though.

The house was built in 1940s and some of the water pipes bang around loudly when you use the taps occasionally but I don’t think this has anything to do with the vibrational humming.

I’m driven to complete distraction, I can’t sleep or rest and I’m now exhausted all of the time.

Any suggestions please?! I’m absolutely desperate. Thanks

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    Vibrational humming is probably the hardest to locate. The house itself might be collecting and amperiving the hum. Might be your neighbours new stuff or an industry half a mile away. Can you hear/feel it outside of the house(when you go though the front door) or just inside? If outside also, is there a certain direction that it is stronger?
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 9:11
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    For sleeping get a noise generator that will drown out this sound. People who have to sleep in noisy environments swear by these. Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 9:48
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    Are you relatively young, with an older husband?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 11:58
  • This question / answer may be useful: lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/24579/…
    – MTA
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 17:43

3 Answers 3

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Perhaps the reason your husband can't hear it is that his hearing may be damaged in those frequencies. If it doesn't appear to be anything in your house then it could be something in your neighbours.

I would check for the neighbour's heat pumps and pool pumps. You could request them to turn them off for 30 mins to prove it. Most likely it is the pool pump.

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I wonder if you might be able to use something to amplify the sound such that your husband can hear it / see it. I've got an app on my phone (Spectroid, no affiliation) that draws a frequency plot of sound picked up from the microphone. If you installed something similar you might be able to work out the frequency / frequencies you can hear. Remove any sources of noise from you own house (turn off the power etc) then wander round the house and grounds putting the phone down (so as to minimise noise generated by holding it) and see where you pick up the sound the loudest.

Knowing the frequency of the sound is helpful in finding its source because it will indicate the speed of the vibrating thing and that will allow you to rule in / out machinery / electrical items. You'll also be able to see whether it's a constant pitch, or whether it varies.

If you mark on a map of your plot how loud the sound is at various points, that might give you an indication of where it's coming from.

Depending on the frequency, 20m might be easily traversed by the sound; given the right weather conditions I can hear cars on the nearby motorway for example. The motorway is hundreds of meters away.

Sometimes a noise appears when another noise is taken away, I can hear next door's washing machine, but only when it's not windy and the trees aren't moving about. Just another thing to think about; perhaps it's the absence of a another noise that makes you notice the one you describe.

And thinking about wind, we have a poorly sealed window that vibrates when the wind is strong enough and in the right direction. I know you said your noise is constant but perhaps the weather conditions have changed sufficiently such that there's a constant wind in a different direction and that causes a noise. Perhaps in 4 months (so you'll have been there a year and so back to the season in which you moved in) it'll disappear again.

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  • Bose makes truly awesome set of noise cancelling head phones. They not cheap (about $300) but they really work well. If they restore your quality of life, they are worth it. Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 12:58
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UK government's DEFRA's NAN45R document was specifically written to address low frequency noise. Other countries apparently have similar noise-graphs with similar legal thresholds. It explains quite a lot and might bring you some peace of mind that you are not alone, hearing things and have targeted legislation to protect you (for what it's worth).

Make and use (at least 10) earplugs made from blue-tac wrapped in cellophane - persistent humming can send you insane. The common soft sponge earplugs don't block low frequency humming at all and only cause confusion/self-blame in such cases. Maybe also play a radio, run a fan, or bite down hard, face reality sooner rather than later, and go and sleep in your shed or even your attic/roof to mitigate its worst effects. Whatever you choose, mix and match based on what works best on a daily/nightly basis. Don't expect a solution in the near future.

Low frequency sound/noise travels through the ground and solid structures very well. Take off your trainers/shoes and you'll experience it more/quicker - especially on concrete floors.

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