Why Do I Hear an Electrical Buzzing Sound?

Do you hear an intermittent low-grade humming or electrical buzzing sound in your house? Are your electrical appliances emitting strange noises? Do your walls seem to be buzzing at you?

No, you’re not going mad and most likely you don’t have hornets setting up home in your walls/sockets/ceiling fan.

You could most likely have an electrical issue causing that electrical buzzing sound or hum. If so, we’ve got the answers as to where, how, and why that might be happening!

If the Problem Is Electrical, Don’t Ignore It

First things first. That electrical buzzing sound that you hear, whatever the source or location, could be a sign of problems with your electrical wiring, switches, or outlets.

What’s more, it’s not just a mildly (or majorly) maddening annoyance to your ears and head. It has the potential to be a dangerous problem. You need to find the source of that electrical buzzing sound and deal with it.

But remember, get it looked at and fixed by an experienced, licensed electrician. Your head, and your home, will thank you.

Electrical Buzzing Sound Causes

Even though you need to call an electrician to get the electrical problem dealt with, it does help to at least narrow down where the sound is coming from and why it may be happening.

Here are some of the humming and electrical buzzing sounds you might here in your home:

  • Mains hum sound
  • Circuit breaker humming
  • Electrical wire buzzing
  • Outlet or electrical switch buzzing
  • Humming Light fixtures or bulb

Mains Hum Sound (or Buzzing)

electrical transformers or when you walk under high-voltage power lines

Electricity is an alternating current, so it does make a natural electrical humming sound. This ‘mains hum’ refers to the audible sound of the alternating current coming from power plants.

Our North American power is 60 hertz producing an electrical buzzing sound that is slightly higher than in Europe where the power is only 50 hertz.

The mains hum sound is the sound you are likely to hear outside near electrical transformers or when you walk under high-voltage power lines. You might also hear a hum from your major appliances like your dryer or when your fridge cycles.

Sometimes when flipping on a light switch you might also hear a hum. This type of humming sound is normal and harmless.

On occasion, you might hear a mains buzzing sound, which can be quite a bit louder than just a hum. If this becomes a persistent electrical buzzing sound, you should consider calling an electrician.

You can reach our Premium Electric offices 24/7 at 604-308-6195 if you are located anywhere within the Vancouver Lower Mainland area.

Circuit Breaker Humming

The purpose of circuit breakers is to help protect us from an electrical fault. When a fault happens, the breaker is tripped to close the circuit.

Circuit breakers are not infallible, however, and can sometimes be defective, and may even malfunction, which is not good. If there’s too much voltage and the circuit breaker is defective, it may not be able to shut off as it should.

When this happens, it could overload the circuit and cause it to produce a buzzing sound or worse.

If you hear your circuit breaker humming or making an electrical buzzing sound, we recommend you shut off the entire circuit panel and call an electrician immediately.

Premium Electric offers 24/7 emergency electrical services and can be reached at 604-308-6195.

Electrical Wire Buzzing

If your wiring and/or plug outlets are humming or buzzing, for whatever reason, it’s never a good thing. Electrical wire buzzing sounds are a definite warning sign of electrical danger ahead!

For example, the humming noise could be due to an outlet not being grounded properly. Or it could be that the wiring making the noise can’t handle that amount of voltage.

Both these problems have the potential to spark an electrical fire, which is avoidable if you pay attention to the song they’re singing.

If you hear an electrical buzzing sound from any wiring within your home, turn off the power to that area and call an electrician immediately.

Outlet or Electrical Switch Buzzing

Buzzing for an outlet or switchIf your electrical outlet is humming or you have an electrical switch buzzing, there are three possible causes to look out for:

  1. A loose wire
  2. An overloaded wire
  3. An improperly grounded wire

All three situations are extremely hazardous, with a high potential for an electrical fire. if you trace the buzzing or humming to an electrical outlet or switch, call a professional electrician right away. If it’s a wiring issue, they may recommend a wiring upgrade.

Humming Light Fixture or Bulb

Humming light bulbMost times, if you have a humming light fixture, a simple bulb change might make it stop. Many fluorescent light fixtures, in particular, hum or make an electrical buzzing sound.

To fix this problem, try switching to a higher-quality LED light bulb.

Be wary of dimmer switches as well. They could be responsible for your lights flickering or humming.

An electrical buzzing sound can sometimes be heard when a dimmer switch has been installed for a light fixture. This can often be remedied by only using light bulbs that are rated for dimmer switches.

If you’re still battling the buzz post-bulb switch, it’s time to call a professional electrician.

A Word About Older Electric or Gas Meters

BC Hydro and Fortis BC have now installed digital smart meters in 99% of the homes in British Columbia. These smart meters are silent and efficient.

However, if you’re still part of the 1% that has an older meter, be aware that it has moving parts that may be the cause of some electrical humming in your home.

If you’ve narrowed down the electrical buzzing sound to this source, contact your utility provider to check when your meter will be replaced and upgraded!

Finding the Source of An Electrical Buzzing Sound

You hear an electrical buzzing sound, but you don’t know exactly where it’s coming from. Sometimes the source is obvious but most times it isn’t.

Here are some steps you can take to help you trace where that humming or buzzing sound is coming from.

First, call Premium Electric at 604-308-6195.

Our electrician will find and fix it, for you. More often than not, this is a hassle-free route, and we’ll get to the root of your problem safer and faster.

If you are determined to find the source for yourself, follow these steps.

  • Start by turning off your electrical panel, so that all circuit breakers are shut off.
  • Now walk through each room of your house and listen carefully. Can you still hear an electrical buzzing sound?
    1. If your answer is yes, then you know it isn’t from your electrical wiring or any of your appliances since there is no power.
    2. If your answer is no, then try following these next steps.
  • First, turn on one circuit breaker at a time and check that area of the house, listening for the buzz.
  • Walk through each circuit breaker individually until you find the source of the buzzing.
  • Once you find the circuit breaker responsible for the humming or buzzing, check each appliance on that circuit. You should soon be able to determine if the source of the buzzing is an outlet, a switch, a light fixture, or an appliance
  • If you find that the noise is loudest inside a wall, which is indicative of a serious problem with your wiring, be sure to call an electrician immediately to deal with the problem.

Regardless of what you find and where it may be, it’s time to call in an electrician to help you get it fixed. Yes, an electrical buzzing sound can sometimes be harmless (albeit irritating). Others, however, are anything but.

When buzzing is caused by bad wiring or electrical failure, the potential for dangerous consequences is high. These dangerous consequences can be avoided if you heed the warnings and get a professional electrician to help.

About Premium Electric

Here at Premium Electric, we prefer to err on the side of caution. We offer a full range of electrical services and we’re available 24/7, 365 days a year because electrical safety and the safety of your home and family are paramount.

Give us a call 24/7 at 604-308-6195 or contact us online if you hear an electrical buzzing sound or hum in your home. We are here to help.

We can also be reached by email.

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