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dappled_leaves's avatar

What is this (possibly electrical) noise?

Asked by dappled_leaves (15863points) December 1st, 2011

Since last night at about 10:30, I’ve heard a very unusual sound three times (once again at around 4:30 am, and again about half an hour ago). It’s like a series of buzzes, three buzzes in rapid succession, and repeated three times – for a total of nine buzzes.

The buzz is low, sort of like an alarm, but the hour was inappropriate for an alarm, and it’s not on the half hour mark or anything. Also, it quits after the 9-buzz cycle each time.

It’s occurring in my bedroom, and for the first time, I have rather a lot of things plugged into the power bar in that room… though none of them particularly active. Could this sound be related to an overload of some kind? The apartment building is probably about a hundred years old. A Google search leads me to believe that such a noise would be constant. Does anyone know what else it could be?

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20 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

You hear it in your bedroom, but that doesn’t mean the sound is not coming from somewhere else. Do you have neighbors? Have you located a specific place where the sound comes from?

I don’t recognize the pattern. Is the second set of buzzes longer in duration? It could be someone signalling in morse code: SOS. Help. Dit dit dit, dah dah dah, dit dit dit.

bkcunningham's avatar

Have you accidently set your alarm’s snooze to buzz and it is going off?

Judi's avatar

I love these kinds of mysteries. It reminds me a bit of the sound when the iPhone is on buzz. I to have a lot of gadgets and often spend time trying to figure out what is beeping. My dogie door took forever to figure out. The dog had left something in it so it didn’t close completely.
I agree with @wundayatta. If you live in an apartment it could very well be coming from a neighbor. Let us know if you find it though!

Coloma's avatar

Is one of your sex toys vibrating on it’s own? LOL
That happened to me last year, came home to my walls humming, almost called someone over, thank god, I made the discovery of the self activated toy. haha

LuckyGuy's avatar

My oil fired furnace has a diagnostic alarm that flashes a light and can beep if desired. The code is repeated 3 times. So, if my furnace beeped in the pattern you described 3,3,3 it means I am out of fuel or have a plugged nozzle or something like that. (I am too lazy to check the book.)

dappled_leaves's avatar

@wundayatta This is definitely more of an SSS than an SOS. I have neighbours, but it feels more local than that.

@bkcunningham I have a travel alarm clock, but it’s not on – and it makes a very different sound.

@Judi Thanks!

@Coloma Uh oh… lol.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@worriedguy This is the sort of thing that strikes me… it feels like an alarm, somehow. However, I’m on the 2nd floor of a 3-storey apartment building… there aren’t too many things that are central to the building that would be so, well, central. I would expect something of that nature to be in the basement or in an outside attachment. That’s why I started thinking about transformers.

The neighbours all appear to be around – but I doubt it’s an alarm clock, because of the bizarre timing.

Coloma's avatar

Well…process of elimination. Start unplugging everything, one item at a time and see if the sounds go away. :-)

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yes, I already unplugged the main thing that I was concerned about (my iPod charger). However, since the noise was sporadic, I’m not sure how I will know whether it worked. It may take until tonight before I know anything more. :\

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oooo!!! How about your smoke or CO detector low battery alarm!

snowberry's avatar

My husband had an old watch or some other gizmo buried somewhere in the bedroom. For some reason the alarm went off every night about 3 AM. I couldn’t find it, and I was about to move to the couch permanently. Then we moved, and the sound stopped. I never did figure out what it was.

Judi's avatar

@snowberry , My mom had macular degeneration and had a watch that crowed like a rooster. She died almost a year ago now and my sister has it. When ever my sister is contemplating something, or doesn’t know if she has the courage to do something she should, the rooster will crow. It’s like mom is there encouraging her. One time my sister was going to have lunch with Mom’s leauge of women voters friends and she was running late. It started crowing non stop, nagging not to be late like mom used to do.

Sunny2's avatar

Maybe there’s a mouse amidst the wiring somewhere?

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m wondering if it might be a smoke alarm with a low battery. This is the kind of “low battery” alarm that many electronic devices have.

I just saw that @worriedguy got to this solution before I did. That makes me more convinced that it’s the right response.

ccrow's avatar

Hmm, my smoke alarms make an annoying, high-pitched, loud(and surprisingly hard to pinpoint) beep. I usually have to stand around waiting for it to go so I can figure out which one is doing it. A buzzing sort of thing might be preferable:-/

blueiiznh's avatar

Is the bed one of those magic finger beds you put quarters in? Maybe its malfunctioning.

Do you have a CatGenie that needs changing?
There have been Dryers that are known have malfunctioning electronics to do that.
Do you have a Cable/DVR/Satellite TV reciever in there? Theses run periodic things but usually just once a day.

RocketGuy's avatar

GSM cell phones put out a buzz that can be picked up by low cost electronics that have speakers.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I like the smoke/CO2 detector idea. I will hunt around for those; it’s a new apartment, so that’s feasible.

purplerainman's avatar

I had the same thing happen. In the middle of the night. Its nothing I have plugged in (almost nothing in the bedroom) and its not the CO or smoke detectors. I checked with the neighbors and they heard it as well. It happens sporadically. Sometimes twice in a week and sometimes once a month or much less.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@dappled_leaves Did you ever find the source of the noise? (Whoops. The OP is no longer in the tide pool.)

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