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Next message Chris posted on Tuesday, 20 February, 2007 - 06:09 pm

Totally unrelated to sky, but I know that some of you seem pretty clued up when it comes to sound/physics, etc...

I have recently been experiencing a strange, difficult to explain low frequency hum or vibration in my flat. It seems to start at varying times and can only be felt in certain parts of the living room. Although it sounds funny, it is very annoying and exposure to it for too long tends to leave me with a headache and feeling sick. I am at a total loss to explain it and have been unable to work out just where it is coming from. I have asked the neighbours and they are none the wiser.

So, first of all; any ideas as to what it could be? And secondly, if it does persist, is there anything I can buy to counteract its affects, such as a white noise emitter or something?

Sorry if this has all sounded like the ravings of a lunatic, but it has been driving me mad. It stopped about half an hour ago and I live in hope that it won't start up again, but in case it does, any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Next message Tricky posted on Tuesday, 20 February, 2007 - 08:49 pm
No Chris, you don't sound like you're cracking up - yet. I had something similar - it turned out to be a noisy igniter transformer in next doors central heating combi gas fire/boiler. The vibration was transmitted along the pipes, and was noisiest in our main bedroom, 2'6" off the (upper) floor and 4' away from the theoretical position of the vertical pipes from the boiler. About 10' away from the source!! My background is electrical, and I've done central heating, burglar alarms etc, etc - so I recognised the sound,

Anything that contains a motor (fridge), transformer (TV, clock, battery charger) or choke (fluorescent lights) can do this. In fact anything connected to the mains. Even the electricity meter.

Tracking it down can be difficult. If it involves your neighbours, doubly so. In my case, the neighbours had lived with it for so long - gradually getting louder - that they couldn't hear it at all. They moved to Spain. The new neighbours COULD hear it, and after putting up with it for a few weeks had the central heating re-wired so that the igniter was wired into the timer - not normal practice. The result is we all get a good nights sleep.

The place to start is in your own flat. It could end up involving your neighbours, so I hope they're co-operative. First off, make a list of anything you have to reset - clocks, recorders, central heating etc. it will make things easier later. Identify where the noise is loudest, so you can listen for it. Then the big one. Switch off the mains at the fuse box. If the noise is still there, it's originating from outside your walls. If it's gone, switch back on and try to trace it. It could be things you don't normally see, such as a central heating pump, motorised valves (central heating again) or transformers powering these modern spot/down lights.

You said "It stopped about half an hour ago" - make a note of the times when it starts/stops if you can - before it turns you into a raving lunatic :-). It may help to trace it if there's a pattern. (It could also be central heating switching on/off via a thermostat - just to add to the difficulty)

Don't think it's being weird putting your ear against your neighbours walls :-). It may be your only way of tracing it if it's from outside your flat. But shut the curtains first:-)

Rarely - very rarely, noise can be transmitted along the mains water pipes. Water transmits sound very well, and the source could be several miles away! I've heard what could only be a pump operating very occasionally, using my radiators as loudspeakers. At 2 am:-(

As for trying to deaden it, you'll still have to trace the source. In my case I had considered making 2" thick false wall filled with the heaviest-duty carpet underlay - the 1/2" thick stuff made from recycled car tyres (or murdering the neighbours :-) ) - before my neighbours saw (or should I say "heard") sense.
Next message Chris posted on Tuesday, 20 February, 2007 - 11:15 pm

Thanks a lot for that advice. I phoned my landlord at about half past five and he gave me some similar advice.

I am almost 100% certain that it is nothing in this flat, as boy have I listened carefully to what is going on and nothing is switched on or operating at times when I have 'felt' this vibration. And it does appear to be a feeling rather than a noise. I asked one of my friends to come round tonight to see what he thought and, as I said, about an hour after I phoned him, the noise suddenly stopped! He came round anyway and gave me a list of suggestions, etc. But it really is a mystery. I am at a complete loss to explain it, but if it starts up again tomorrow (again, there seems to be very little discernible pattern) I shall have to investigate further.

A real shame this, as this flat is incredibly quiet otherwise and peace and quiet is something that we all need from time to time.

Anyway, thanks again and I shall take all you have said into account.
Next message Tricky posted on Saturday, 24 February, 2007 - 01:00 pm
Have you managed to solve it yet Chris ?
Next message Chris posted on Saturday, 24 February, 2007 - 06:42 pm

I don't want to tempt fate by saying this but, further to my last post, the strange vibration seems to have vanished and hasn't returned!!!!

I am delighted, to say the least, but still at a total loss to explain it - what it was, where it came from or why it suddenly went. It is a complete mystery and my fingers (and everything else!) are crossed that I have heard (or felt?) the last of it.

Thanks for the suggestions and advice. IF it returns, I will put some of them into action, but my hope is that I won't need to!



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