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Electrical humming and buzzing noises are common, but they can also be annoying. They can keep you awake at night and irritate you during the day. Hearing these sounds in your home may also indicate an electrical problem, so you definitely shouldn’t ignore them. Here’s our guide to finding and fixing the electrical humming and buzzing noises in your home.

How to Identify the Source of Electrical Noise

The Ear Trumpet

If you can tell that the noise isn’t coming from the electrical panel, take some time to listen to your walls. Focus on the sound and try to find the direction it’s coming from. Once you narrow down a location, start listening to your walls. You can use a stethoscope if you have one, or you can improvise your own ear trumpet.

People used ear trumpets to amplify sound before the invention of hearing aids. You can achieve a similar effect by using a funnel or a piece of paper rolled into a cone shape. Listen until you locate the loudest point. Then you can call a professional to inspect the wiring with limited damage to your walls.

Microphone and Headphones

A condenser microphone, headphones, and other sound equipment.

If you have some sound equipment in your home, it can be useful in helping you pinpoint an electrical noise. You can use a condenser microphone to track the sound. If you have high-quality headphones to listen through, you may be able to find the source of the noise.

Process of Elimination

Switch off all electrical appliances and devices in your home and then go to your electrical panel. Switch off the circuit breaker. 

If the noise doesn’t stop, you know it isn’t coming from your electrical system. If it does stop, start switching breakers back on one at a time. When the noise returns, check everything connected to that circuit to find the source of the noise.

Non-Electrical Sources

If you can still hear buzzing or humming even after turning off all your circuit breakers, the issue isn’t electric. Check around your home for things you may have mistaken for electrical noise. Common non-electrical sounds are half-opened air vents, bees or wasps living inside your wall, or loose outlet screws.

Common Sources of Electrical Humming and Buzzing

Circuit Breakers

Close up of a hand pushing a switch on a circuit breaker board

Circuit breakers protect your electrical system from damage in the event of excess electrical current or short circuits. A consistently overloaded circuit can start making electrical noise, indicating some kind of malfunction. You should have an electrician fix this right away.

Electric or Gas Meters

Most modern gas and electric meters are digital, but older models may have several moving parts inside. If this is the case, some buzzing doesn’t usually indicate a problem. Still, you can discuss a meter upgrade with your utility provider if this becomes a nuisance.

Lights and Fixtures 

Lights are some of the most common sources of electrical humming and buzzing. Fluorescent light bulbs, in particular, make a lot of noise. Your lights may also make noise if they’re on a dimmer.  The easiest solution to eliminate the noise is to replace these bulbs with quality LED bulbs.

Mains Hum 

Usually, there’s a normal sound that comes from your electrical mains. This sound occurs due to the alternating current in the mains. You can often hear a similar noise coming from larger appliances, such as your refrigerator. Unless the humming turns into a louder, more metallic sound, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

Unusual humming and buzzing issues may also occur because your current circuit breakers are overloaded and need replacement. You may also hear unusual noises caused by damaged wiring in your electrical panel.

Outlets, Switches, and Wires

A light switch and a pair of electrical outlets on a concrete wall

If you notice a buzzing sound coming from your wires or outlets, contact an electrician. In most cases, the sound indicates overloading in the wire or outlet. This may also be a sign of an improperly grounded or loose wire. All of these situations are dangerous and require professional input. 

Fix Electrical Humming and Buzzing Sounds Today With U.S Electric 

Do not ignore unusual electrical humming and buzzing in your home. The sounds may be signs of problems in your electrical panel, wiring, or outlets. A professional from U.S Electric can find and fix the noise fast. Contact U.S Electric to speak with a licensed electrician today!