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Single, loud 'POP' - Trying to identify

49789 Views 38 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  elizabethmelanson4
Here's the situation. First thing this morning, 3 of us happened to be in the same room, getting ready for the day. All-of-the-sudden, there was a loud POP. Loud enough to startle 3 people. My wife described it as a single, loud hand clap. I immediately thought electrical. I was talking and had an earbud in one ear, so I wasn't exactly sure from whence it came, but my wife said it came from near me (why she thought it was a human clap) and my daughter heard it from behind her, where I was.

Near me is one electrical outlet which has my Belkin 8-outlet, electronics surge protector. (I wanna say it was $50-$80 - not a super-cheapie like a crummy power strip). In it were plugged 2 laptops, a small lamp w/75-watt equivalent CFL (maybe 18 watts?), and an iPhone power cord (no phone).

One of the laptops is currently failing in different ways. It was kinda one of my suspects, but if that noise came out of the laptop, I doubt I could be uploading this post from it now.

I've had CFL's pop, but that usually results in the light burning out or failing in some way. The light is fine.

I immediately went into detective mode. Here's the mystery.
Nothing tripped, flickered or did anything abnormal.
There was zero smell from any of the items plugged in, nor from any of the outlets, which is often reported with a 'pop'.
I checked all of the outlets with a 3-prong, plug-in circuit tester (2 on the wall outlet and all 8 on the surge protector) and all came back fine. I don't know if the circuit tester would show an error or not, but I figured if something burned up, it might show a bad circuit.

Maybe this happens more often when we're not around but we all caught it because we happened to be in the room. Who knows? But it freaked us all out and I've spent 2 hours researching.

I'm handy enough to install and upgrade simple circuits but don't mess around with breaker panels or anything that gets much beyond lights, outlets and 'regular' circuits. For the heck of it, I'm going to replace the wall outlet and buy a different surge protector.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Why do you think that it was "electrical" and what were the weather conditions at the time?
Weather: very light, lake-effect snow. No wind.

The reason I think electrical is that I can't figure any other logical thing that would make a loud, hollow sound. It really sounded a lot like when a light bulb burns out with gusto. I've run a bunch of possibilities through my head.

The area where it occurred is carpet and bed. All soft, quiet material, excluding a side table. Nothing fell off (to my knowledge) I tried to recreate the sound with the few things and couldn't get close.

Everyone is sure it occurred in the room (on a 2nd floor). I ran the possibility that something smacked into our siding outside. I can imagine throwing a rock off of our siding might mimic the sound, but a single rock-throw from a hooligan at 6:30 a.m., in the dark, in the cold and snow, in an isolated area, is highly unlikely. (and nothing was laying on our deck) And I know what our siding popping and shifting with the temperature sounds like and it's not that loud.

Believe me. I'm an overthinker so I've stared at the area and tried to think of what it could be. (maybe a tiny meteorite hit our siding...see. Overthinker.)
 

· Guapo
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I'm with Frodo. It may not have been electrical. The only way that it might have been the laptop is if the laptop is set on a table cloth, or something else that would prevent it from breathing. The vent is on the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It could have been the surge protector blowing off a surge.
Is that a thing? Aren't the surge protectors a 'one and done' kind of thing? I thought if something blew, it was toast. (or would trip/shut off, etc.) I never had to reset anything. My green light that says 'Protected' is still on. Maybe I'll read about my surge protector.
 

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I never said to reset it. It is true that many of them are one and done. But when they go, they can make a loud pop as the MOV blows.

If the green light is still on then I think it is good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I'm with Frodo. It may not have been electrical. The only way that it might have been the laptop is if the laptop is set on a table cloth, or something else that would prevent it from breathing. The vent is on the bottom.
I'm pretty sure the fan in my old laptop is packed with lint and I need to take it apart and clean it out. It will get hot every now and then but I just fired it up and it was completely cool when this happened. The temp was the first thing I checked. I have a set-up where there's extra air circulation under our laptops. (the other laptop is brand new and has excessive ventilation because it was meant to be used as a gaming laptop so it doesn't even slightly warm up)
 

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Aren't the surge protectors a 'one and done' kind of thing? I thought if something blew, it was toast.
Not always.
A "surge protector" is usually a Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) which reduces its resistance towards a short circuit when an "Over Voltage" occurs.

If the duration of the "Over Voltage" is brief, the energy dissipated in the MOV will not be enough to destroy it AND the circuit breaker in the Line will not operate.
If the MOV is destroyed, it may go short-circuit and the Circuit Breaker will operate disconnecting the equipment.
If the MOV goes open-circuit you will have no protection for any subsequent "surge".
 

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squirrels, it's always those dang squirrels. probably ate your floor joist. or maybe termites, or ants. or nothing.

my house makes some funky pops and squeaks every once in awhile due to temp. changes, wind, etc. could just be something shifting causing a pop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
squirrels, it's always those dang squirrels. probably ate your floor joist. or maybe termites, or ants. or nothing.

my house makes some funky pops and squeaks every once in awhile due to temp. changes, wind, etc. could just be something shifting causing a pop.
We have zero mammal pests within a few acres of our house because we have three, what can only be described, as 'murder cats.' They each kill 3-6 things per day, all day every day, and those are only what we see. They are such predators that two of them catch full-sized rabbits, one tries to catch Canada geese and goes in water to catch things, once bringing home over a foot-long bass.

Maybe it's stink bugs. We've got plenty of those in the walls.
 

· Naildriver
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Highly possible you heard a bird either hitting your siding or a window. Have you checked the perimeter for anything unusual? Nevermind. I see where you have cats. Carcass wouldn't have lasted too long.
 

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I'm questioning the second floor and snow. Yesterday it snowed, then freezing rain then a rapid temperature drop. If conditions are right, the ice on the roof contracts and we get a pop, sometimes a boom depending on the amount of snow or ice up there. It doesn't rock the house or anything, but you will definitely hear it and unless you knew what it was, it's difficult to pinpoint the source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Highly possible you heard a bird either hitting your siding or a window. Have you checked the perimeter for anything unusual? Nevermind. I see where you have cats. Carcass wouldn't have lasted too long.
As soon as I thought of the siding, I searched outside for any signs of something that had hit the house. I thought of a bird but it was still early for the birds to be up, but can't rule it out. (still dark out - they usually rise with the sun). Assuming a bird, as loud as it was, I'd think it would be stunned but the light snow coating on our deck (~1000 sq ft that spans the entire house) was still pristine and the cats were hunkered down in their houses when I fed them at 6:30.

When I mentioned the outdoor/house noise possibilities to my wife, she said "it definitely happened inside the room."
 
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