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Buzzes. Hums. Vibrations. Electrical devices and systems may emit a range of noises while in operation. Get up close to your fridge, for example, and you’ll likely hear it hum. Or kneel near the power outlets behind your TV, and you may notice a little vibration in the air.

That’s all normal and natural. However, in some cases, the buzzing sounds might get louder. That could be a sign that something is wrong, and you need to take action. In this guide, we’ll explain when homeowners need to worry about electrical noises.

Subtle Sounds Are Normal
As covered above, subtle electrical sounds are totally normal. All electrical systems emit some level of sound. It’s due to the movement of current passing through the wires and devices, which generates vibrations in the surrounding magnetic fields. Most of the time, you’ll barely hear or notice these sounds at all.

When You Should Worry
While subtle, barely-there electrical sounds are usually nothing to worry about, you should start to feel concerned when those sounds get louder. For example, if you can hear a distinct buzz coming from a particular outlet, device, or appliance, like a lamp or an oven, that’s usually a cause for concern, and you should power off and unplug any noisy devices right away.

It’s also a genuine worry if you hear noises coming directly from your home’s electrical panel. It should hum a little all the time, due to the amount of power passing through it. But if it starts buzzing or vibrating to a degree that you can hear it from several feet away, there may be an underlying issue. If that happens, call an emergency electrician in to take a look.

Watch out for electrical sounds that seem to come from within the walls, too. Those are usually emitted by damaged or frayed wires, and there could be a risk of an electrical fire if damaged wiring is left in place. Again, contact a licensed pro to figure out what’s wrong and take the next best steps to fix it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Alternative current causes magnetic fields to fluctuate, which causes vibrations but is usually not audible.
  • If the buzz in your home is louder than normal, that could be something to worry about.
  • If the sound is from an appliance, try unplugging it; if it’s from the electrical panel, call an electrician.

“When the white noise becomes something more noticeable—and irritating—is when you should start to think about it.”

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