What in my home could possibly vibrate and/or make a very low humming noise?

I have been driven mad by a low droning vibration type noise for nearly two years. I have gone through testing various possibilities; Electric being the first - switch power off at circuit and still hear it. Water- turn off at stop valve under stairs, still hear it.

I hear it worse at front of house than back. Hear it upstairs too. We are in a terraced row of houses so I've been round to the neighbours either side and can hear a faint hum in their houses but nothing as bad. To me it appears very loud as been living with it for so long I am totally tuned in to it!

What can this be? Is it possible for gas lines to vibrate? Could it be a mains water issue? Someone suggested we could have a leak? Electrical problem (but had mains off and could still hear it)? Boiler issue?

We have had gas and water companies out but there was not anything obvious found by them. All appears normal. Gas meter is fine. No pressure issues with gas. No water leaks. Turned off toby in street and it was still audible.

The front room floor does feel like its vibrating but perhaps the noise I am hearing gives the suggestion of vibration (sounds like a bus engine idling in distance or the throb of engine when you are on a ferry but very low level). At night when all is quiet it's horrendous as there are no other noises to mask it. It sounds like a pump running 24/7.

Any ideas? We have had Scottish Power out as I thought it may be one of two electrical substation that are along the road. They were doing work on them when this noise was first noticeable but the new installations are supposedly meant to be quieter models. Think they are 132kv transformers.

At the same time we had to get our shower replaced and ended up withwater hammer, with pipes banging every time we turned tap or shower off. This was sorted by draining down the systm but the stop valve leaked for while after obviously not being used for years. I read about the possibilty of worn/loose washers causing a humming noise but it sounds no louder when right beside stop tap... Hhhmmmm...

In the past 18months it has only been quiet twice really, but there was silence for a good few weeks then it returned. I don't hear a hum when I stand outside in garden or beside the closest substation but the furthest one (approx 180m away) does emit the usual hum but not at a level that you would think would reach my house...

I do not hear it in friends houses and have to escape to my parents or in-laws homes to get away from it. I went for hearing tests and I've got perfect hearing. It's not tinnitus either as it is only in my home I hear this low drone.

Any theories??? What can I try?

  • 4
    Sewer lift station nearby? What large hatches or covers in in the roadway nearby?
    – Bryce
    Nov 12, 2015 at 0:16
  • 1
    I had a similar situation once that took me about a year to figure out - turned out to be a grain elevator about a mile away...
    – Comintern
    Nov 12, 2015 at 0:17
  • 3
    Something that sounds like a motor running 24/7 could be a motor running 24/7. Something to try -- get a mechanic's stethoscope and listen around. If it seems like it might be from underground, then find a buried pipe or something solid that extends underground outside and see what the stethoscope turns up when you listen to that.
    – user39367
    Nov 12, 2015 at 1:04
  • 2
    Also it might be one of the power company's pole-top transformers. Those can go bad after about 50 years, and boy do they groan
    – Daniel
    Nov 12, 2015 at 1:38
  • No large hatches or covers in roadway...
    – cazzapop
    Nov 20, 2015 at 12:51

8 Answers 8


I would suggest figuring out the frequency. This can probably be done using an application that will measure and name the musical note or a microphone plugged into an oscilloscope. Maybe there is an oscilloscope ap or musical note ap your phone could use.

If it is exactly 60 Hertz then blame the transformers sound waves vibrating your home. If it is a derivative frequency of 60 Hz, likely the transformers also.

May I also suggest that you post your water hammer question as a seperate question to stand on its own? As it is now, the water hammer is not in the subject line, nor in the links beneath your question.


This would be a last resort but ridges of ledge underground that the foundation may be poured on top of can transmit vibration from hundreds of feet away if the source, (heavy machinery, road traffic, etc.),is strong enough. Can you pinpoint the area of strongest / loudest vibration? If yes what is it closest to?

  • Living room floor at front of house feels like most vibration. If large electrical transformers were on concrete plinths about 100m away could that send vibrations through the ground? I feel like i am in a drum!
    – cazzapop
    Nov 20, 2015 at 12:56

During the two silent periods, what specific dates and times did it go away and then come back?

Vibrations must be caused by a source of energy. Your home has at least some of these types intentionally coming in:

  • Electrical Utility
  • Water Pressure
  • Steam (maybe, in really old areas)
  • Air pressure perturbations via the sewer lines
  • Landline Telephone Signals (a long shot)
  • Cable Television RF energy (a long, long shot)
  • Gas Pressure

And luckily just about every home has a way to shut off or block most of these where they enter the premises. Try cutting off each one in that order until the noise stops. Careful with the gas.

You don't have any funny greennie stuff like solar cells or a windmill do you?


I doubt you or anyone will like this...but sometimes its the area. I live close to 29 Palms California, USA. and Every spring for the last 250 years or so one entire mountain "hums" for 9-14 weeks-the sound can be heard for couple 100 miles and the vibration felt for more. There's also places in several other states - New Mexico & Washington - off the top of my head also have hums. They have been looked into many times by many different branches of science. Yet no cause nor exact location has been found.

However, if you are the only one who hears it...it could be the on set of - don't laugh its real, rare but real- electricity or technology allergy. Hope this helps somewhat but doesn't depress you too much.


I am experiencing noise and vibration in my home.

I purchased a seismometer (infiltec) that shows there is vibration (below 20 hz). The software allows fast fourier transform giving frequency signature. This tool has limitations in that it is not calibrated and it only detects vibration below 20hz. We humans can feel vibration up to 80 hz ... I haven't identified any low cost tools with which to do that. The Instantel blastmate would do it but it costs on the order of $10k as near as I can determine.

I purchased an infrasonic monitor (infiltec) that measures infrasonic (below 25 hz) noise. The same software is used as with the seismometer.

I purchased a (Tascam) recorder. It has microphones that record noise with a flat response to 20 hz. It also captures noise at frequencies below 20 hz but I don't know where it cuts off.

I purchased (Virtins) software pro version ... it includes a Spectrum Analyzer and an Oscilloscope with bandpass function, all of it on your computer. The software can be used to analyze the WAV file recorded on the recorder.

I purchased two (Behringer) measurement microphones. I mounted the microphones on construction tripods (high enough to avoid ground plane effects) and set them on a 5 meter baseline in my backyard. I connected the microphones to the recorder. I pointed the microphones at a suspected source and made a recording when the vibration was present.

I was able to spectrum analyze the recording to find the peak frequency. I used a bandpass filter function to isolate the peak frequency. I was able to use the oscilloscope to measure the time difference where the sine wave crossed the axis for each microphone. I was able to determine a direction using the time difference. A second recording at a different location allowed me to triangulate on the source.

The source is machinery at a house being used as a greenhouse to grow marijuana. Unfortunately its licensed under Health Canada MMAR regulations.

MMAR rules were revoked in March 2014. Unfortunately the MMAR crowd appealed in court and won an injunction until the case is decided. The judge heard final arguements 1 May 2015 and reserved his decision. Thats now 10 months ago ...

Its a real problem because the municipality I live in won't enforce its bylaws. There is no point in going to court ... because the MMAR case judge could make a decision tomorrow.

We now have a government that wants to legalize marijuana and a crowd of people that want to grow their own ...

But there you go ... the vibration is caused by infrasonic and low frequency noise ... noise you likely can't hear. In my case its caused by machinery at a distance over 30 meters away. It could be a faulty bearing. It could be the house acts as a giant speaker due to vibration in the grow op. It could be too much air being forced out of too small openings. etc.

I'd bet similar results would be found for people complaining of smart meters ... where in fact its more likely someones heat pump.

Scotland Government has a good report on Low Frequency Noise. It was produced by Casella 2001 for Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Cost of tools ROM $2000 CAD.


An electricity meter can cause this low frequency hum.

  • Even if I switch the power off at fuse box?
    – user49084
    Feb 12, 2016 at 10:57

It can be an underground waterway, perhaps your home was built on or near a waterway that was previously enclosed and then buried (sometimes this is done, redirecting an stream or river in a pipe underground)unfortunate if that's the case nothing can be done. I have an old stream running in a pipe about 20 feet from my house. I can feel this super low hum/vibration "in" my body (if that makes sense) which also increases after heavy rainfall . If I go outside and stand over the manhole cover I can also hear the water rushing more at those times. Curiously, not all people seem to feel or hear it. I know for a fact it's an old stream because I've heard stories from "old timers" and even gone so far as to visit the city archives to view old maps etc. I hope you find a solution for your problem!


An electricity meter can cause the low frequency hum, not all by itself, but it does in conjunction with the smart grid system. The smart grid system works from either RF frequencies or pulsing low frequencies on a two-way communication system--most likely this if you are in a suburb or rural area. You can shut off all the electricity at the breaker, but this won't solve it, because the electrical substation is still pulsing your house. There is much more information available on this now. I suggest googling low frequency hum and smart grid or checking out this most helpful site: sandaura.wordpress.com/.

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