5 Reasons Your House Makes a Vibrating Humming Noise

circuit breaker noise

Last updated: May 4, 2022 at 14:06 pm

Our homes are our havens, so it can be incredibly frustrating when we discover a vibrating or humming noise within them. This then gets more frustrating when we realise, we are unsure as to where the noise is coming from. If you’ve noticed a vibrating or humming noise in your home, it may be due to any number of things.

The most common reasons your home is humming is either lightbulbs and fixtures, circuit breakers, loose pipes, wiring and outlets or appliances. Let’s look at each of these in detail.

1. Lightbulbs and Fixtures

lightbulb humming

Often, lightbulbs and light fixtures can hum or vibrate. This is not usually cause for concern, but it can be quite irritating, especially if more than one lightbulb or fixture in your home is humming.

Identifying if It Is light Fittings Vibrating/Humming

Determining whether your lightbulbs and fittings are the root of the problem is really very simple. All you have to do is turn off your lights in whatever room the noise is most prominent and see if you can still hear the noise.

If you can, then it is unlikely to be the lights, especially if you can still hear the noise sometime after turning them off.

Why Do Lightbulbs Hum?

Incandescent bulbs often hum when on dimmers, as the dimmers reduce the voltage from the line, which causes the filaments in the lightbulb to vibrate. Fluorescent bulbs are the most likely to hum, and often older bulbs will flicker and hum – these bubs should be replaced.

Fluorescent bulbs act in this way when the ballast is old or malfunctioning, meaning that it cannot properly regulate the voltage of the lights, causing the filaments to vibrate. LED lightbulbs do not have filaments, and so are much less likely to hum or buzz.

However, if you try to set up a dimmer with non-dimmable LED bulbs, you may hear a buzzing. Occasionally LED bulbs buzz or vibrate due to electromagnetic interference, too.

How to Stop Lightbulbs Buzzing

The easiest way to stop your lightbulbs from making any noise is usually just to swap out the old bulb with new. This helps if your noisy lightbulb is caused by a dying ballast or just a bulb generally on its way out.

Alternatively, you might choose to replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, CFL bulbs or rough service bulbs. These all have much thicker filaments or no filaments at all, which reduces the amount of vibration able to happen within a bulb.

You could also try to upgrade your dimmer or ballast. Poor quality dimmers and ballasts are often the cause of humming and buzzing from lightbulbs, so installing a higher quality piece of kit often helps to stop the noises.

If none of these methods work to stop your noisy lights, contact an electrician for expert troubleshooting.

2. Circuit Breakers

circuit breaker noise

Circuit breakers normally produce a slight, unnoticeable hum. This is caused by the vibration of the electrical currents, and you don’t usually have to do anything about it. In fact, you are unlikely to notice it unless stood next to it. Other noises, however, should be addressed.

Identifying if It Is My Fuse Box Vibrating/Humming

If you’ve noticed that there is a distinct humming or vibrating sound within your home, but you’re unsure where it might be coming from, try standing by the fusebox. Turn all of the circuit breakers off and see if you can still hear the noise. If you can, it is not likely to be a circuit breaker issue. If the noise is gone, then it is likely to be fusebox-related.

Try turning one circuit breaker on at a time and seeing whether the noise returns. This will help you to identify where exactly the vibrating/humming noise is coming from.

Why Is My Fuse Box Humming?

There are a few reasons that a fuse box or circuit breaker may vibrate or hum. Your circuit breaker might have a loose or damaged wire. It might also be that a particular circuit breaker is malfunctioning and not tripping when it should.

Instead, it is becoming overloaded, and this is causing it to vibrate and/or hum.

How to Stop Circuit Breakers Humming

If your circuit breakers are loose or damaged, you should contact an electrician. Should you yourself be a qualified electrician, you should fix the loose or damaged wire. Likewise, if you have identified a ‘bad’ breaker that is not tripping, you should get a professional to replace the breaker as soon as possible.

It is important to get these issues dealt with quickly, as left unattended they are fire risks and could lead to catastrophe.

3. Loose Pipes

loose pipes

Pipes can cause a whole range of issues within the home, but one of the most frustrating issues that pipes can cause in a home is this vibrating/humming sound.

Identifying if It Is My Pipes Vibrating/Humming

It is more difficult to determine whether your pipes are the cause of the vibrating or humming noise. The best way to do so is by process of elimination. If the other potential causes appear to not be the cause of your noisy home, then begin to check through each pipe you can access.

Be aware that it may be an inaccessible pipe causing the noise, and to check as well as fix the pipe, you may have to make holes in walls.

Why Are My Pipes Loose?

Vibrations caused by rushing water can cause the brackets and straps holding pipes to the wall to become loose, allowing them to vibrate further.

This causes a rattling or vibrating noise to occur which, if the pipe is in an inopportune place, can reverberate throughout the property.

How to Stop Pipes Vibrating/Humming

If the pipe that is causing the noise is easily accessible, you can re-tighten or reattach the loose strap or bracket. You may also choose to add a buffer. These are small pieces of padding, rubber, or MLV that you can wrap around your pipe before you clamp down the strap or bracket. This reduces the noise and effect of any vibrations within the pipe.

For inaccessible pipes, you can add padding to the accessible sections of the offending pipe. For more noise reduction, you will have to open up the wall and either reattach your pipe or use a can of spray foam insulation to surround the pipe and hold it in place.

4. Wiring and Outlets

wiring making noise

Without outlets, our homes would be pretty much unusable to the modern person. Yet when they begin to hum or vibrate, it can often be very distracting – especially if multiple outlets are doing it at once.

Identifying if It Is Outlets/Wiring That are Vibrating/Humming

The simplest way to tell if your outlet or wiring is the cause of any noise is to turn off the outlet, or to turn off the circuit breaker related to it. If the noise continues, it is evidently caused by something else.

Why Are My Outlets Vibrating/Humming?

There are a few reasons your outlets might be making noise. It might be that there are some connectivity problems – your wiring might be worn down and the connections may be coming loose as a result. This can cause an electrical buzz.

Alternatively, it might be an electricity imbalance. If your breaker is sending either too much or too little electricity throughout your home, there is often a low electrical humming heard throughout the property. Or your outlets might not have been installed correctly, and there may be a polarity issue.

This means that the charge coming to the outlet might have been reversed or tampered with when the outlet was fitted.

How to Stop Outlets Vibrating/Humming

The best port of call if your outlets are humming is to call an electrician out to inspect and potentially correct any issues with the wiring or outlets in your home.

5. Appliances

appliance vibrating humming

Our homes are full of electrical appliances that can often create a buzzing or humming noises. These appliances are often essential, and we might not consider them as a possible cause for any noise within our homes.

Fridge

Fridges are quite often noisy anyway, but if your fridge starts to make more noise than usual – you might want to check it out. Your fridge may begin to make noise if there are any blockages in the air vent. This is an easy issue to solve, as it just involves reorganising your fridge and making sure all the vents are clear.

Otherwise, the noise is likely caused by a malfunctioning or noisy compressor. The compressor is located at the back of the fridge, between the wall and the refrigerator itself.

To check whether your compressor is faulty or just dirty, simply disconnect the power to your fridge and clean the compressor and condenser fan gently but thoroughly.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 3 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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