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tuffluck 01-10-2011 07:20 AM

can you help me with this really odd noise?
 
hi, my gf and i recently moved into an 1800 sq. foot townhome that has a garage on the first floor, kitchen/living on 2nd, and 2 bedrooms on the third. we have recently been hearing a very spooky and unnerving noise that doesn't seem to be coming from anywhere at all. i apologize for the lengthy post, but if the noise is something practical, we are all out of ideas, so i wanted to ask home-experts to see if there is something we are missing.

usually we can't hear our neighbors at all except once we heard faint music. i am a very light sleeper and my girlfriend is not. we sleep with a sound-maker on and have been here just 2 weeks. since we have been here, i've woken up at least 1 time every other night to the sound of a faint xylophone-like noise. basically it sounds like a very dull, yet very automated, string of 6 or so low notes, played 3 times in a row very quickly. it almost sounds like a vitamin bottle is being shaked 3 times, or maybe like a door stopper being sprung back and let loose, but it has more tone than either of those options.

usually i hear this and it wakes me up as it is happening, and since it is so fast, in that split second i am coming out of unconsciousness it stops, and then i can't distinguish what it is or where it was coming from. i have even walked the house a few times looking for an electrical device that is on but eventually convince myself it was in my head.

last night i heard it 3 times though and the last time my girlfriend was already awake and she heard it for the first time. so we are officially a little creeped out as we know it is consistent in the middle of the nights now. we work during the days but even on the weekend we have yet to hear it during the daytime. and it could be happening even more frequently at night that it just isn't waking me up every time. but even though it's dull, it's very distinct and still kind of loud.

we crossed all our t's and dotted our i's and just don't know what it could be. computer speakers are off, phones are in our room. we thought maybe the neighbor's could have a baby and the noise was an alarm they set several times in the night, but since we can barely hear their music we doubt we'd hear a baby alarm.

because it's so mechanical and automated (not manual sounding like someone is doing it) we thought first and foremost maybe a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm? are there any models that make low-pitched noises when batteries go out? it doesn't sound like a smoke alarm to us, but we are also used to apartment alarms which all sound the same. also i thought maybe the thermostat makes a noise when a temperature is reached or a program is started. but i'm pretty confident we would have heard that before. we have an alarm system but that is not set and unplugged and the breaker is turned off for it. i have turned it on before and the noise it gets for not being armed is very high pitch as well. we also have surround sound throughout the house, that recently was told to be broken (the amp), though the speakers work fine. we wonder if the broken amp is sending some warning noise through the speakers and we are hearing that. still, only in the middle of the night is odd.

other than that we are out of ideas. this post might be in vain and really i don't know what else to do as far as searching for information on the internet goes, but maybe some others could at least throw out a suggestion or an idea as to how to isolate the noise since this is a home-forum and i'm sure there could be noises we aren't considering. quite frankly, it's happening only in the middle of the night and it's happening so very often is starting to creep us out. thanks for the help.

DangerMouse 01-10-2011 07:43 AM

Does it sound like perhaps a phone being dialed? (tones?)
I remember when I lived in town, I could turn on my tiny TV in the attic bedroom, switch to channel 80(ish) and could very clearly hear people talking on their cell phones.
Perhaps your speakers are picking up tower signals?

DM

joed 01-10-2011 07:56 AM

Is it the same time every night?
Could it be something phoning home, like a satellite tv box, security system etc.
Maybe water running filling the fridge ice maker, humidifier on the furnace, toilet refilling because the flapper leaks?

tuffluck 01-10-2011 09:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joed (Post 566868)
Is it the same time every night?
Could it be something phoning home, like a satellite tv box, security system etc.
Maybe water running filling the fridge ice maker, humidifier on the furnace, toilet refilling because the flapper leaks?

well we have cable and have had it at our other apartments separately--never any noises. the security system like i mentioned is not only unplugged, but the breaker is thrown off for it. the toilet is a possibility...how to check for a leaking flapper? still you would think that it would be heard during the daytime too?

as far times goes, i have a hard time remembering exactly. though i'd like to say last night 2, 4:30, and definitely 6ish because we were up from then on out. is it on the hour every time? probably not or i would remember that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by DangerMouse (Post 566859)
Does it sound like perhaps a phone being dialed? (tones?)
I remember when I lived in town, I could turn on my tiny TV in the attic bedroom, switch to channel 80(ish) and could very clearly hear people talking on their cell phones.
Perhaps your speakers are picking up tower signals?

DM

that really sounds possible, though odd that the noise seems to be fast dials in an order of 3. it doesn't sound like someone dialing because it is too perfect a rhythm. you still think it's possible--is there any way to test this? i am pretty sure the amplifier does not work because the surround system does not work, though all the speakers do. could a broken amp still be pulling in the signals? if there was a signal being emitted through the broken amp, i wonder if unhooking the speakers would correct the problem?

DangerMouse 01-10-2011 10:12 AM

If it WERE a phone thing though, you'd think it would be random, all day/night long..... hmmmmmm
Can you spend one night sleeping close to a speaker and see if it's louder?
That may give you a clue, but the wife might not like you not being there if she's anything like mine! lol
Mine can't seem to sleep unless I'm there.

DM

joed 01-10-2011 10:19 AM

If the toilet is used before the water level drops you won't notice it during the day.
I asked about the time because if it is the same time every night then you can assume it is something that has a clock in it. I was thinking the ice maker might be doing a purge every night or something.

DangerMouse 01-10-2011 10:27 AM

Hey joed! You think it might be a water hammer in the walls?
That problem does seem to create some REALLY odd sounds!

DM

joed 01-10-2011 10:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DangerMouse (Post 566962)
Hey joed! You think it might be a water hammer in the walls?
That problem does seem to create some REALLY odd sounds!

DM

It could be. But something then has to be using water. Maybe a neighbour?

RST 01-10-2011 10:40 AM

In the middle of the night I hear lots of noises I don't hear during the day. I am a very light sleeper myself. My weather radio sometimes plays super quietly - I only hear it do that at night. The noise of my clock.

Plumbing certainly sounds like a good guess to me. Or refrigerator - mine makes strange noises sometimes.

Maybe you are hearing something from outside. Maybe not something close by, but at night you can hear it.
> Crosswalk "beeper"?
> Distant train?
> Gate opening and closing?

Try sleeping in the other bedroom and see if you hear it there.
Maybe turn off the sound machine so you can hear the noise better. Or get a fan, that's what I use. If it wasn't so cold, I'd suggest sleeping with the window open to see if it's from outside.

RST

rditz 01-10-2011 11:02 AM

do you have a water softener?? my last house had one and it would do it's cylcing in the meddle of the night.. a real pain as it was directly under the bedroom.

rod

tuffluck 01-10-2011 11:58 AM

what is a water hammer and where would it be? might be worth checking out. also there is no water softener, but there is a water filtering system in the refrigerator if that makes any noise?

i feel the noise is more electronic and rhythmic that might just rule out plumbing. maybe even similar to cell phone feedback you can get if you leave your cell phone close to your speakers. problem with this is, we don't leave our cell phones close to our speakers and every audio system is off in the house, including the home surround sound that earlier was suggested could be picking up cell signals. the breaker for that entire audio system is shut off, just like the alarm system. maybe there is an auxiliary way to power those systems...still, the inconsistency of the noise doesn't jive with that idea.

i'm glad you guys are making suggestions...i at least feel less spooked by hearing that others have the same problems and that apparently a lot of crap in your house can make weird noises. but still i am losing sight on what the sounds could be from a practical sense. we guessed maybe a baby monitor in the neighbor's place next door, but that really doesn't make a lot of sense. i know it's hard to guess without hearing it yourself, but your suggestions are at least helping me think of things i wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

joed 01-10-2011 02:02 PM

Water softeners only cycle once a week or more, not every night.
Water hammer is when you tun off a tap very fast and the pipes bang. The moving water is hammering the pipes as it stops moving.

Saturday Cowboy 01-10-2011 04:29 PM

my advise would be to record and chart these occurrences to try and find a pattern. I would talk to my neighbors to see if they have any ideas, not saying they are doing it but they might be able to hear it better and identify it.

RST 01-10-2011 04:30 PM

Some more guesses:

Furnace or something connected with furnace? Maybe a condensate drain line? I'm guessing your furnace is two stories from where you are sleeping, far enough to distort any sounds.

Computer running a virus scan? How about a cell phone reaching full charge? I would flat out unplug your electronics to eliminate them as potential culprits.

RST

RST 01-10-2011 04:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tuffluck (Post 566939)
...the toilet is a possibility...how to check for a leaking flapper? still you would think that it would be heard during the daytime too?

You can check by putting some food coloring or other dye into the tank. If you see some of it in your bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.

RST


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