Our Buzzing House Has Stumped Our Electrician? - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
Advertisement


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical


CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Like Tree14Likes
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-11-2017, 01:51 PM   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 7
Rewards Points: 14
Question

Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Hello forum,

I'm a homeowner with no electrical knowledge. I'm writing because I need a check-in to see if what's going on in my house is a problem with my electrician, or with the wiring. He's stumped but I'm not sure if that means my house is a really vexing problem or not. There seems to be a lot of expertise on this forum and I'd really appreciate any thoughts from anyone who likes mysteries. Here's the story:

I paid our electrician to install three new chandeliers in two rooms. One is very large (19 bulbs) and the other two are small (4 bulb). He put in two new dimmers -- one per room -- where there were no dimmers before.

This has produced strange, loud buzzing noises all over our house. Sort of like our electrons are haunted. When the new lights are turned on, three GFCI outlets in different rooms, on different circuits, and on different floors intermittently buzz loudly. The LED bulbs also buzz, as does the light switch. Sometimes the panel itself in the basement buzzes.

I saw on electriciantalk and elsewhere that there are often problems with LED bulbs and dimmers buzzing, and I am also having those problems. But these problems don't seem to explain all of the buzzing all over the house.

Things he's tried:

He's tried every single dimmer available from our electrical supplier, all supposed to work with LED bulbs, including both CL and ELV dimmers.

We've tried several different LED bulbs. All bulbs are on the "compatible" list given by the dimmer manufacturers. Some combinations reduce but do not eliminate the buzzing in the bulb, but they do not affect the buzzing in other parts of the house.

He's tightened all of the connections in the buzzing basement panel and other places that buzz. No effect.

He's tested the wiring and it looks good. (Not sure what this means. Ground is grounded?)

He had the theory that there was a doorbell transformer somewhere in the wiring that could produce problems like this. But there is no electric doorbell in our house and from what we can find we've never had one.

He's replaced the buzzing GFCI outlets with new ones that are a different brand. The new ones start buzzing.

He's moved the dimmers to different switches.

He's installed the dimmers and LED bulbs in different rooms using our existing light fixtures. This still produces buzzing. That means it isn't the new light fixtures, I'd guess.

We have LED bulbs all over the house. Almost all the same brand and type. However, replacing the LED bulbs in the new fixtures with "our brand" so that everything is the same brand doesn't solve the problem.

Other facts that might help:

Our house is a historic building (1848) but it was completely rewired in 1983 and all wiring is 1983 or newer.

There was no buzzing problem in our house before this.

Our house does have one other light dimmer that we added a few years ago. It controls halogen bulbs in cans. No buzzing.

There is old (1983) alarm wiring in our house. Motion sensors in every room. We do not use it. Not sure if this matters.

There was an old (1983) intercom system in our house but we asked this same electrician to disconnect it and remove it. And he did.

The buzzing does not happen 100% of the time in every location but it happens most of the time and it is easily audible. No one is disputing the buzzing. This is not one of those "sensitive homeowner" problems.

He's been back to the house several times and seems stuck. Is there something he should be doing that he's not doing?

Thanks in advance for any ideas.

--Haunted Electrons

Advertisement

niftyc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 02:16 PM   #2
Remodel and New Build GC
 
MTN REMODEL LLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Colorado @ 7651'
Posts: 5,024
Rewards Points: 2,820
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Exorcist......?????

Nifty.... Sorry, I honestly have no idea. Like you I have a LED 6 light fixture that more hums, than buzzes... but it is not very noticeable or bothersome.

Someone will ask, are the motion sensors removed... or do yours have an off ability... any idea if these are completely ruled out as having any association.

We'll have some well experienced sparkys/ EE's that will have some ideas.

This is a great mystery.... I'm getting the pop corn right now to watch.

Best

PS: You wrote and laid out the incident very clearly.
supers05 likes this.

Advertisement

__________________
Never stop learning (xcep fer speling en typeing)
MTN REMODEL LLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 02:50 PM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 803
Rewards Points: 1,355
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Beats me.

I'd turn ALL the breakers off. Does the panel buzz? Turn on one circuit at a time. See if that narrows it down.
mathmonger is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 01-11-2017, 03:07 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Canada
Posts: 3,928
Rewards Points: 46
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
Exorcist......?????

Nifty.... ...

This is a great mystery.... I'm getting the pop corn right now to watch.

PS: You wrote and laid out the incident very clearly.
Indeed. Checked off quite a few check boxes.

Cheers!
MTN REMODEL LLC likes this.
supers05 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 03:20 PM   #5
Member
 
dmxtothemax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
Posts: 4,197
Rewards Points: 5,352
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Where is the buzzing eminating from ?
Does it only happen when these new lights are on ?
Have you tried bypassing the dimers completely ?
dmxtothemax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 03:44 PM   #6
Civil Engineer
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 5,596
Rewards Points: 4,772
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


From your description, it sounds like the buzzing started when the electrician installed the dimmers. You can confirm if this is the problem by removing the dimmers and replacing with ordinary switches. If the buzzing disappears, then the dimmers were the problem. You may have to live without dimmers.
JACK HOTTEL and circuitman like this.
Daniel Holzman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 04:25 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: San Marcos (San Diego) CA
Posts: 568
Rewards Points: 1,136
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


what brand of actual bulb are you using? Ive experienced alot of CREE bulbs buzz, especially when using a dimmer switch
KPDMinc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 04:51 PM   #8
Member
 
hkstroud's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 961
Rewards Points: 1,912
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


My suggestion would be to have your electrician take one of the dimmer switches and some of the bulbs and try them in his home. May be something unique about your service (voltage or frequency).
__________________
Harold,
The Left Handed Widget Maker
hkstroud is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 08:07 PM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Steamboat Landing IN
Posts: 274
Rewards Points: 403
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


OK...take out the LED bulbs and replace with cheap incandescents.........does the problem go away? If so, then your problem is solved.
DanS26 is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to DanS26 For This Useful Post:
lines4life (01-12-2017)
Old 01-11-2017, 09:08 PM   #10
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 7
Rewards Points: 14
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Thanks for your interest! Here are my answers/updates:

Yes, the problem is related to the dimmers + LEDs. Sorry if this was not clear. If I remove the dimmers everything is fine, or if I remove the LED bulbs everything is fine. If the LEDs on the dimmers are all are turned off everything is fine.

Other online posts have described swapping the LED bulbs and dimmers until a combo is found that does not buzz. This helps, but this *only* affects the buzzing at the bulbs. Doesn't affect the buzzing at the switch, GFCIs, or panel. That seems like the more mysterious buzzing.

So far the best bulbs out of several I've tried are Cree 60W Equivalent Soft White (2700K) A19 TW Series Dimmable LED. But if someone else has a favorite low-buzz suggestion I will try it.

The electrician says he has installed these dimmers with LEDs many, many times and never encountered this problem. I don't think I need to have him install them at his house (?). He's also already tried swapping in new/different ones of the same type. Also different types.

He can't detect a pattern in the buzzing locations. To put it another way: We only have 5 GFCIs in the whole house that I can find. 3 out of these 5 buzz. Always the same three. But they don't seem to have a connection to each other and they are at opposite ends of the house. They aren't on the same circuit. One is a downstairs closet. One is a kitchen counter. One is an upstairs bathroom.

It is an old house and has a grand room with this 19-bulb chandelier in it. That's the one that started this. The fixture can only be reached by a big ladder and I would really hate to replace the LEDs with incandescent because of the bulb lifespan. But I guess I will do that if I can't come up with any other ideas. Or I will remove the dimmer and that will become a very bright room! But I'm hoping there is some other answer.

At this point I think we'd also all like to solve this just for our satisfaction.

I will work on finding the alarm wiring and ensuring it is disconnected.

I will work on seeing if the switching off the LED dimmer's circuit breaker stops the panel buzzing but I'm pretty sure I checked this already and it did. I can't check it now as the panel is not buzzing right now (everything else still is). But I'm confident the panel will start again. I'll keep checking it.

--Haunted Homeowner
niftyc is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to niftyc For This Useful Post:
MTN REMODEL LLC (01-11-2017)
Old 01-11-2017, 09:18 PM   #11
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 803
Rewards Points: 1,355
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


The fact that the panel itself buzzes sometimes is a big red flag for me.

LED bulbs don't use as much power as incandescent bulbs, but if you install 27 of them, it adds up. My guess is you maxed out that circuit and you have a bad breaker that is not fully tripping. It rapidly switches off and on, sending ugly, choppy electricity all over the place, which is causing all your other problems.

The whole LED/dimmer compatibility thing is a big red herring. I've never heard of a PANEL not being compatible with LED bulbs. The panel should not buzz. And it seems like the only place your guy has not looked! There is a problem in the panel.
circuitman and de-nagorg like this.
mathmonger is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to mathmonger For This Useful Post:
niftyc (01-11-2017)
Old 01-11-2017, 09:47 PM   #12
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 7
Rewards Points: 14
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Quote:
Originally Posted by mathmonger View Post
LED bulbs don't use as much power as incandescent bulbs, but if you install 27 of them, it adds up. My guess is you maxed out that circuit and you have a bad breaker that is not fully tripping. It rapidly switches off and on, sending ugly, choppy electricity all over the place, which is causing all your other problems.
I really like the theory but I think the circumstances rule it out. There are three new chandeliers, one new dimmer controlling the big one (19 bulbs) then another new dimmer controlling the two smaller ones (4 + 4 = 8 bulbs). If *either* switch (or both) are turned on, I get the weird buzzing all over. That means I can produce the buzzing with only the smaller chandeliers. That's 8 bulbs with 11W each = 88W. I tried it just now.

Also, remember that he moved the dimmer and LEDs to a different light fixture in our house and reproduced the buzzing. He did this to rule out the new light fixtures as the problem. But the light fixture he used as a test has only two LED bulbs in it (22W) and it produced the buzzing.

As I said I am not an electrician. But it seems hard to believe these numbers would max out anything, right?
niftyc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 09:49 PM   #13
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Central Wyoming
Posts: 5,857
Rewards Points: 2,044
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


A weak or failing breaker will cause incandescent bulbs to hum / buzz at times.

So I would check on the breakers, you did say that this home was old, with a 1984?, update, and I know that in the mid 80's that many breakers were imported from "wherever", and were built as cheap as they could get by with.

Some were so bad that they did not work N I B.

So try a new QUALITY breaker to see if it quits the annoying buzz.


ED
MTN REMODEL LLC likes this.
de-nagorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 10:01 PM   #14
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 803
Rewards Points: 1,355
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Quote:
Originally Posted by niftyc View Post
As I said I am not an electrician. But it seems hard to believe these numbers would max out anything, right?
Once a breaker fails and is in a half-tripped state, who knows...

But even if you forget the part about maxing out the circuit. Maybe the breaker is bad because it is 30 years old. Maybe a different breaker. Maybe the main breaker. I'm still looking at that buzzing panel.
mathmonger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 11:06 PM   #15
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 7
Rewards Points: 14
Default

Re: Our buzzing house has stumped our electrician?


Quote:
Originally Posted by mathmonger View Post
I'm still looking at that buzzing panel.
Gotcha. Message received. The next time I speak with him I'll see what he's ruled out in the panel, and what he can rule out.

Advertisement

niftyc is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
buzzing , dimmer , led


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Plumber vs Electrician vs House Painter drew53813 General DIY Discussions 26 07-21-2015 11:56 AM
Old House Wiring Traycam Electrical 14 01-03-2015 09:31 PM
Elec oven seems to control our house! trophft Electrical 21 10-21-2013 10:03 PM
Trane XR12 1.5 ton-Too small for my house? Badfish740 HVAC 7 09-23-2009 05:48 AM
Albany NY electrician shorted out my house Disgusted Electrical 11 10-15-2008 08:11 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts

 

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1