Low level house noise. Constant hum, any ideas?


A noise, which sounds like a quieter version of a computer Power Supply running, is noticeable in our house. I particularly notice it when trying to sleep.
I thought I had tinnitus, but after a week away on holiday with no noise I thought it must be the house.
Turning off electricity makes no difference. It is more of a hum than water passing through pipes. If any other noise is present eg conversation or even a passing car, it masks the noise.
The trouble is that it is a damn nuisance because I am tuned into it and my wife can't hear it.
On some nights it doesn't make an appearance and I can think of nothing done on those occasions which is different than when the noise is present.
There are no nearby generators or the like. In fact once outside I do not hear it.
Any ideas?
km
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<km> wrote in message

There was something in the news a month or so ago. People all over the country have been reporting the same thing as you and scientists have reported back after an investigation. Here are a couple of links:
http://tinyurl.com/r3kdwp (Daily Mail)
and a more informative one from the BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8056284.stm
--
Keith W
Sunbury on Thames
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I once had the same problem. It was a loose connection in the fuse box.
<km> wrote in message |A noise, which sounds like a quieter version of a computer Power | Supply running, is noticeable in our house. I particularly notice it | when trying to sleep. | | I thought I had tinnitus, but after a week away on holiday with no | noise I thought it must be the house. | | Turning off electricity makes no difference. It is more of a hum than | water passing through pipes. If any other noise is present eg | conversation or even a passing car, it masks the noise. | | The trouble is that it is a damn nuisance because I am tuned into it | and my wife can't hear it. | | On some nights it doesn't make an appearance and I can think of | nothing done on those occasions which is different than when the noise | is present. | | There are no nearby generators or the like. In fact once outside I do | not hear it. | | Any ideas? | | km
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Interesting links from Keith W. I have no particular advice to give, but can maybe give some pointers for further investigation.
I've downloaded the example from the Daily Mail, which I can see has a pitch though I don't hear it as such, and analysed five randomly chosen snatches. They have frequencies of:     82Hz,     84Hz,     81Hz,     77Hz,     79Hz
On the face of it, this doesn't seem to bear any relationship to the electrical mains frequency in the UK, which would give rise to 50Hz or multiples thereof. This ties in with your stating that in your case turning off the electrical mains has no effect. Nevertheless, if you have any suitable equipment, it might be useful to try and record the sound and analyse the frequencies in the recording.
I wonder what the dimensions of your bedroom are?
Many years ago at uni, I was investigating in the Physics Lab some speakers that were part of a system I'd acquired, which I felt were boomy, spiky in response, to see what could be done to improve them. I noticed three distinct peaks in the response, which some brief calculations showed tallied exactly with resonance across three dimensions of the cabinets. I stuffed the cabinets full of sound deadening material, the peaks more or less vanished, and the speakers, sounded, in fact still sound for I still have them, pretty good for what they were!
The velocity of air at a room temperature of about 15 deg C is about 340m/s. So a dimension of 5m in a room would have a half-wavelength standing wave resonance of about 340/(2x5) = 34Hz, depending on age, probably right at the limit of the lower threshold of human hearing. There will be a couple more such resonances for the other dimensions of the room.
If anything is continuously agitating the air in such a room, then maybe it would resonate slightly, and in some of these cases perhaps that is what people are hearing. If you could find the source of the disturbance, or perhaps drape the walls with sound deadening material, then the nuisance would be cured.
I stress I am just someone with a good knowledge of basic science, not an expert in accoustics or sleep disturbance, so the above is only a suggestion, but presumably it couldn't do any harm, and might be useful even if only just to rule out one possible source in your case, to investigate the phenomenon on the basis of resonance.
HTHs.
On Mon, 20 Jul 2009 09:32:10 +0100, km <> wrote:

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Usual causes... 1 - Alarm PSU - Texecom are notorious re bad transformers & design
Vibration from the Texecom transformer excites the plastic case cover into resonance. If the house is quiet the hum can be heard in most rooms and can be subject to local reinforcement based on room dimensions/focusing effects. The Texecom faceplate is retained by just two screws located midway down each end - without a third screw the cover is free to rock unimpeded and resonate quite spectacularly.
2 - Elec Meter - Hum magnified by the sounding board through a wall
Turning off the electricity does not shut up the meter.
3 - Elec Meter next door - same, only through your wall
Turning off your electricity does not shut up their meter.
Hum from an electricity meter is present even when all load is removed and can excite the backboard into resonance like a speaker cone. Local reinforcement in the room re wavelength & large meter board "speaker cone" can result in the noise being transmitted around the house or into the room next door.
Just because you can't hear a noise outside does not mean that it can't be heard indoors, sometimes you can get local effects.
The body can become sensitised to certain frequencies, and I have suspected particularly when falling asleep they can be "replayed". An example is when subject to long duration background HVAC noise at a very low amplitude for extended periods of time - the "buffetting sound" in particular. Another cause can be chimneys acting as transmission lines or similar localised effects, but that would tend to have a clear environmental correlation.
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js.b1 wrote:

What about fridge? I can hear mine better when I'm a couple of rooms away than I can beside it. Could it be the compressor running (hence hearing it sometimes and not others)?
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<km> wrote:

Have you tried ear plugs? The reason I ask is that if the sound is less or absent with ear plugs then that confirms that the noise is 'external' whereas if the noise is just as loud with ear plugs then that suggests that the noise is 'internal'.
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In km opined:

If not electrical, insects? We once had a hum in our bedroom. In that case I could locate it to a particular spot on the ceiling. Turned out to be a wasps' nest in the loft, and they had almost eaten though the plasterboard to the point that our bedroom would have suddenly filled with angry wasps!
Chris R
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On Mon, 20 Jul 2009 09:32:10 +0100, km <> wrote:

Thanks for all the reponses. I took the advice of DIY and bought some earplugs. Thinking about it I should have done this some time ago. They did not stop the noise so the problem is me, not the house.
A bit depressing really, though the strange thing is that earlier in the month we toured in France for a week and stayed in four different hotels with no noise problems.
Thanks again for input.
km
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Probably, but not necessarily. I can't remember details now, but the ear canal is responsible for most of the sounds coming in from outside, but not quite all. IIRC, some frequencies are transmitted into the ear quite well by bones of the skull, etc.
Nevertheless, probably a visit to the doctor is the next thing to try.
On Thu, 23 Jul 2009 05:45:00 +0100, km <> wrote:

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"km" wrote in message

It wont be you if you dont experience it anywhere but home - As already mentioned - your ears are not the only way of 'hearing' - your floor boards, bed & whole body has potential to conduct sound (especially low hum)
Maybe different pillow, mattress or even bed - before going to any expence i would try out the spare bed and see if it goes away
I would also try standing the bed legs on dampners (thick rubber maybe) - certainly make sure it's not touching floor boards even through thin carpet
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That has been what encouraged me...the relief of total silence in a hotel deep in the country. Perhaps a permanent holiday or move of house is the answer. Can you ask for a sleepover before buying!!!
I have slept in a different bed in another room but with no change to the hum. Thick carpets on all upstairs bedroom floors.
Thanks for the thought.
km
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<km> wrote in message

One thing that does come to mind. You don't live near a power line do you. They give off a hum all the time and if it is a pitch that your hearing is sensitive to you'll hear it over some distance.
--
Keith W
Sunbury on Thames
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<km> wrote in message

It is still possible that the noise is generated internally. The fact that only you can hear it and that it is still audible even when wearing ear plugs does rather point in that direction.
An internally generated sound can in fact be heard by someone else who possesses a stethoscope and is experienced in using it. Applying the instrument to the outer parts of the ear or the mastoid bone behind the ear may well reveal the sound to the examiner. If the sound heard through the stethoscope is a steady hum it may be coming from a nearby venous source. A pulsating sound would originate from an arterial source. Anyway it would be a good idea to take medical advice and follow up with a physical exam to check for any circulation or blood pressure anomalies. If you are like me you probably cannot even remember when you last saw a doc for a check up!
Richard H
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