Can you identify this noise?
October 24, 2014 12:47 AM   Subscribe

I live in a small, 10-unit apartment and have an ongoing issue with noise. There is a constant humming sound around 375 hz that is particularly loud in our apartment and on our floor.

We are almost right above the mechanical room which is in the basement and on one occasion I was able to go inside because the door was wide open (a carpet layer was storing his extra rolls in there) and the boiler seemed to be making a ton of vibration and noise but not at the same pitch. I thought maybe it was somehow making the pipes in the walls vibrate?? No idea, but here's a short recording of the sound that is going 24 hours a day and driving me and my fiancee absolutely batty:

Thanks in advance for your guesses!
posted by knilstad to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're above the maintenance room - what does the actual source matter??

That is not livable. Explore moving apartments in your building, or legally breaking your lease in your jurisdiction.


That recording is ineffective. Make a new one without all of the shifting position noises. That hum is too much to live with, but all the ambient noise of humans (you) doesn't help your argument.
posted by jbenben at 1:24 AM on October 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The predominant sound in your recording sounds a whole lot like a forced-air system hard at work.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:12 AM on October 24, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry, I should've clarified that there is not forced air in this building and no duct work other than, I suppose, whatever's attached to the bathroom fans. It's all hot water radiators. I think there is a fair bit of extra noise produced by my phone's poor-quality microphone but the sound I was trying to capture is just that mid-high frequency whine that constantly bends up and down in pitch.

The boiler system is called a Lochinvar Copper-fin II
posted by knilstad at 6:04 AM on October 24, 2014

Best answer: There is a circulating pump mounted in that mechanical room, which constantly pumps water through a loop, off which each of the heating zones and probably the domestic hot water tank draw water (via individual zone pumps) whenever their thermostats call for heat. While the zone pumps cycle as needed, the offending circulating pump runs at all times.

If you look on the bottom of page 24 of that manual, first column, the pump I'm talking about is referred to as the system pump. It can run in one of two modes — continuously (WWSD) or just when there is a call for heat (CFH). CFH is the default, but they have this one set for WWSD. Switching to CFH would reduce your problem to an intermittent one (and save your landlord money) but would not eliminate it. The reason this pump runs all year and not just in the heating season is probably because domestic hot water is also supplied via a loop off the boiler.

If your landlord is inclined to address this problem, what they could do is re-mount that pump in a way that isolates it from the building's structure so that the hum is no longer transmitted. This could be done in a number of ways including inserting neoprene rubber gaskets or isolation pads between the pump and the structural member it is mounted on, but ideally similar gaskets would be installed wherever the pump loop pipes are attached to structural members.
posted by beagle at 7:06 AM on October 24, 2014 [16 favorites]

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