Electricity is one of the things in life that should be seen and not heard. Whether it’s loud or soft, an unusual buzzing sound coming from electrical devices is not “normal” and shouldn’t be ignored.
What’s That Sound?
The first step to figure out whether there’s a serious issue with your electrical system is to identify the source. Do your best to narrow down the specific location and figure out where the sound is coming from. This may not be easy. (One customer mistakenly assumed that a cluster of bees had built a hive inside her kitchen wall!)
Take a methodical approach to isolate and identify the problem. Is the noise coming from a specific part of the room or does it seem like it’s happening in multiple rooms? Is the sound emitting from one outlet or a switch on the wall? If it isn’t obvious, turn off individual devices one at a time and see if the noise stops. You could also try turning off each circuit at the electrical panel until you find the culprit.
A wall outlet won’t make any noise unless there is a problem. So, if you find an outlet that has started to hum or buzz, don’t try to fix it yourself! Rather, unplug everything from it immediately and call a certified electrician.
Snap, Crackle, Pop
The interior walls of your home contain a maze of wires and junction boxes that carry electricity throughout the structure. Here are a few possible explanations for buzzing sounds in your electrical system.
Electrical wires come loose all the time. Although this usually happens in older homes, it can also happen in newer homes that were recently built. When electrical wires come loose, they vibrate, causing the fuse box to buzz and crackle. This could explain any buzzing sounds that you hear, and should be inspected by a professional.
If an outlet gets louder with many things plugged into it, it may have been wired incorrectly. Reversed polarity occurs when the hot and neutral wires are flipped around within the outlet. This is a serious problem that can result in an electrical shock or fire. Involve a professional electrician right away.
When you plug something into an outlet, contact blades hold that plug in place. If the outlet blades are damaged, they can’t maintain proper contact with the plug, and this can cause buzzing. The simplest way to fix this problem is to have an electrician replace the broken electrical outlet.
Although it is normal to hear some buzzing from a circuit breaker, that noise shouldn’t get louder over time. If the breaker seems to be louder than before, it might be putting out too few amps or is being overloaded. Disconnecting devices can help. In other cases, a malfunctioning breaker may need to be replaced. If a circuit breaker fails to trip, the wires could get hot and start an electrical fire. If you hear a crackling sound, get a qualified electrician to check your electrical fuse box or panel immediately.
Change of season
Temperature changes can cause electrical components to contract and expand. The bigger the change in temperature, the greater the contraction or expansion. Over time, the repeating cycle of the seasons can cause electrical connections to deteriorate and come apart, causing buzzing or crackling sounds. One solution is to replace components with temperature-resistant options. For best results, contact a local licensed electrical contractor or a certified electrician.
Call the Pros
Rather than attempting to handle potentially hazardous jobs like these, if you ever find yourself wondering, “Why are my outlets buzzing?” stay safe and call Griff Electric: (401) 293-5255. We’re here to help.