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Question DetailsAsked on 2/21/2018

Just moved into newly built house 2 wks. ago and yesterday started hearing a hum sound in attic or wall, lasted 3hr

Newly Built House has humming coming from bathroom attic or wall (can't tell). Lasted about 3 hrs. Don't know what to check for, never had this before....any suggestions on what it is... House is all electric

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Well - could be an electrical hum because of a loose connection or overloaded circuit, but since a new house I would guess one of following list - you need to walk around listening (and turning appliances on and off) to see if you can pin it down - a $10-20 stethoscope from pharmacy department can help a lot tying this down - assuming it happens again.


Getting in attic when it is happening could certainly help eliminate or confirm that source area too - just be careful in case it is insect nest. And of course walkiing around house indoor and outdoors listening for the sound


First, listen at heating ducts and at water pipes to hear if a lot louder there - that might indicate HVAC system or water system is the cause.


And of course, next time you hear it go outside and be sure not coming from a neighbor's A/C unit, pool attic fan, etc. - or other unknown neighborhood noise. Might ask neighbors if they heard anything too - could have been an industrial noise or such, or even a long carpet cleaning or sewer jetting job in the area.


Since lasted 3 hours, I would be suspecting a fan more than a normal HVAC piece of equipment, which normally run for only maybe 5-15 minutes at a time. You did not say where you live, so can't address whether hot or cold condition causes might be it:


Things I can think of which can make this sort of noise, other than electrical problem - actually in a new house #15 and #16 are pretty likely so might start there:

1) Attic fan - either gable fan or through-roof ventilation fan (household or solar panel powered liek a mushroom fan), thermostatically controlled so would run automatically in daytime into possibly evening as attic heats up from sun, until it cools off at night

2) Whole house ventilation fan - thermostatically and/or timer controlled

3) Sump pump (usually runs only 1-3 minutes at a time though)

4) Sewage lift pump if you have one - but again usually only a minute or few at a time

5) Constant hot water system circulating pump - usually continuous running

6) Furnace blower - usually only 5-15 minutes at a time

7) Boiler (if hydronic or steam heat) circullating pump - but usually on all the time, or if set for intermittent running only runs a 5-15 minutes at a time while heating the house

8) Crawl space ventilation fan - rare but some damp crawlspaces have them - ditto to unfinished basement fan which are sometimes on humidistat (humidity switch) or timer

9) A/C or heat pump - though again usually only a few to 15 minutes per operating cycle

10) kitchen or bathroom ventilation fan - which a family member turned on, or sometimes on a humidity switch to automatically turn on

11) combined or "whisper installation" bathroom or kitchen fan, where the fan / motor itself is installed in the attic rather than in the room to keep it quieter - in some houses one fan is also connected to multiple rooms, so turning "fan" on in one bathroom turns on the master fan and evacuates air from all the bathrooms at the same time

12) buzzing flourescent fixture (including rarely spiral halogen lightbulbs, but usually from tube flourescents)

13) buzzing outdoor sodium or halogen floodlight with electronic starter (on your house or street light trying to start) - rarely buzz when in use, commonly buzz if trying to start and are failing to do so

14) insect nest in attic or wall - bees, yellow jackets, etc. Either when they were waking up or coming in at night. They also flap their wings, causing a buzzing, when they get cold to generate heat for the hive - could be new house picked up a nest before it was buttoned up or eaves / soffits were not properly bug screened. Some chewing insect nests also sound like a buzz or hum, but if you listen carefully with a stethoscope you find it is actually thousands of insects all chewing wood at the same time.

15) if you have a high-efficiency water heater with heat pump on top of it (quite possible in a new house) the heat pump runs to extract heat from the surrounding air to heat the water - so after using hot water may run for several hours to reheat the water. Some models use the heat pump totally to reheat if you are not drawing hot water from the tank (which makes the heating element or gas to kick on for faster heating) so could have been, especially if heard when going to bed after using hot water to shower or such, the water heater slowly using the heat pump to reheat the water in the tank over several hours.

16) if you have a well pump and storage tank, could be well pump refilling holding tank. Pump just pressuring the system back up after water use would onlyu be on a minute or two, but if you have a low-flow well and storage tank could be that.

17) geothermal or solar heating system running ciruclating pump to heat

18) if you have electric car, sometimes their chargers hum when charging

19) if you have a septic tank lift pump (pumping sewage from tank to leach field) could be that - though if working right normally only run for a minute or few at a time after water inflow to the tank

20) public water system (and sewer system if pressurized sewers) pump running, with the noise coming back to your house through the pipes

21) swimming pool circulation / filtration system or heater running

22) reefer or freezer running noise which you are not used to yet, so are not tuning out as you normally would

23) irrigation system running

24) airport or railway in area, and you were hearing a jet engine test (though 3 hours is long for that) or a train diesel idling

probably a half dozen or dozen more I can't think of right now

Push comes to shove, call builder and describe it (or better yet record it on cell phone next time) - he might be able to give you a clue, or come out to inspect it under warranty.


If you figure it out, do me a favor and let me know what it is - may add an item to my list. Reply back using the Answer This Question yellow button right below your question.

Answered 8 months ago by LCD




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