Odd Question - What is this noise in my new rental house wall?

44 Replies

This is an odd question but maybe someone can help. I just bought a new rental house and found out there is a very loud vibration noise coming from the wall. It will vibrate really loud in the house and I can't imagine my renters not complaining about it especially when sleeping in that room where it's the loudest. I want to fix the issue before I get renters in it.

It's on the back wall of the house which the electrical box and wiring also sit.

There's no pattern of buzzes but usually it will hum several times and will come and go. Here's a video.

Anyone have any ideas what this could be?

Sounds like a vibration in the wall from a pipe or something else not mounted properly.

If you look at the drywall at the corner it is not very straight going up. You said you just bought this. Are you sure that wall has not been opened up before?

Make sure the noise doesn't sound like it's coming from the wall but somewhere else in another structure or outside.

I equate this to when I use to do car audio years ago. Someone might say there car is making a noise but until I start taking stuff apart I will speculate as to what the problem actually is.

You can get a cheap decibel meter at Radio Shack or similar and hold the mic to the wall to see where it registers the loudest. They probably have an Iphone or Android app you can download that does the same thing.

Forgot to mention if this property has an attic you might be able to go in it and pull back insulation and shine a flashlight down to see what's in the wall without opening the wall. You can also do test holes in the sheetrock if you have a camera to look inside it.

Opening the wall is cheap though with drywall and paint and patch to fix so might want to go that route the first time.

No legal advice.

What type of HVAC is that house?

Very very strange! Let us know what you find out. I'm guessing the contractor who built the house back in the day lost his cell phone in the wall, and has been calling it for years, wandering the earth looking for it. ;)

Does it have an upstairs? Does it have return vents high up on the wall?

You might have to isolate systems in the house by disabling features. Shut off water, shut off HVAC, etc.

it's not the well pump? (if you have one?) I had tenants that didn't know what a pump was so they were initially freaked over the noise when it kicks on under the crawlspace

@Brandon Turner , that's one heck of a battery life ;)

I called the electric company. They are coming to look at the electric lines that are coming into the house near the area of the sound.

@Steve Babiak

No upstairs. No high return vents. We had all systems off and the noise was still occurring. So strange.

never mind, I was finally able to play the video… wow sounds like a bass guitar not a well pump :)

yeah it's even louder in person. I would not be able to sleep in the room with the noise.

Is it audible from outside at all?

Does it happen more when it's windy outside?

Originally posted by @Joel Owens :

You can get a cheap decibel meter at Radio Shack or similar and hold the mic to the wall to see where it registers the loudest. They probably have an Iphone or Android app you can download that does the same thing.

I have always wanted to say this...."There is an app for that" ...and it's free to download for Apple and Androids. I have used "Decibel 10th", works great.

Erin, it sounds like woodpeckers trying to get lunch from your furnace vent. I doubt it however since you have the sound all the time. I could check the heat/ac duct system that Steve recommended - could be a fan inside the pipe that helps with air flow and could have gone bad and/or out of balance. It is strange what some people will do to solve minor issues.

Good luck and keep us up to date on what you find.

I'll start with I have no idea!!

Does your HVAC have a condensate pump on it? That is the closest thing that I could think of that would make a sound like that. Otherwise I'd assume some sort of plumbing. It reminds me of piping on a ship that would vibrate where there were long runs that weren't secured as tightly, or where a pump connected and introduced vibrations to the pipes.

Erin a humming noise could be an electrical problem and the off and on noise could be pulsing so it's good you have the power company coming out to inspect that.

When I owned a car audio business we would do deductive reasoning. We would go to the issues we found most often and then go to the more rare things if the problem wasn't solved.

You said all systems were turned off. Did that include turning off all breakers at your panel??

Why didn't your inspection before closing turn up this issue??

how about neighbor's kid practicing the tuba?

this is going to be even more suspenseful than Brandon's bird in the wall thread!

Originally posted by @Erin Weiss :
@Brandon Turner , that's one heck of a battery life ;)

I called the electric company. They are coming to look at the electric lines that are coming into the house near the area of the sound.

@Steve Babiak

No upstairs. No high return vents. We had all systems off and the noise was still occurring. So strange.

Have you had the power turned off yet? What kind of circuit box do you have?

Turn off the water at the main and see if it stops. I had a similar problem randomly with my sprinkler system. The galvanized pipe from the manifold to the sprinkler valves was vibrating the pipe against the stud in my garage.

Mine developed into a "water Hammer eventually, but it started out the same way, a new pressure regulator fixed it.

Good luck.

@Erin L. Have you checked to make certain it is not coming from outside?

@Dion DePaoli What on earth does a note/legal geek need a decibel meter for? Dying to know.

Originally posted by @Wayne Brooks :
@Dion DePaoli What on earth does a note/legal geek need a decibel meter for? Dying to know.

Worked on some stuff with noise ordinance issues. Interesting stuff.

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