What’s the Buzz: 7 Possible Causes for the Vibrating Noise in Your Wall

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated February 22, 2022
A living room with a sofa, an armchair and a golden light fixture
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • There are several reasons for a vibrating noise coming from the walls, including circuit issues and pipe problems.

  • One potential solution is to upgrade to high-quality LED light bulbs.

  • Contact a professional electrician for any problems involving extensive electrical work.

If it feels like your wall somehow drank your double shot of espresso, it’s time to figure out what’s happening. There are several possible sources for the noise in your wall, and it’ll take some searching from you to solve the issue. Below are some common reasons for that incessant noise and possible solutions to your problem so you can enjoy a quiet home again.

Potential Causes for a Vibrating Noise in the Wall

Below are some common sources of vibrating sounds coming from the wall.

1. Light Bulbs and Fixtures

Many types of fluorescent fixtures can make a humming or vibrating sound. This often occurs due to the ballast, which regulates the current running through the fixture.

If this is the problem, you may want to switch to a different type of fixture. Consider upgrading to LED bulbs and see if the vibration stops. This could be a solution since LED bulbs use far less electricity than traditional fluorescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Circuit Breakers

When circuit breakers are overloaded or the wire connections are loose, they can produce a vibration. To see if your circuit breakers are the source of the issue, you can run a test. 

First, shut off all the circuit breakers. If you still hear the vibrations, then you can confirm it’s not the electrical system causing the noise. If you can’t hear the vibrations, turn the circuit breakers on one by one until you hear the noise again. Then, you can check each appliance, outlet, and fixture on the circuit that’s tripping. 

Since an overloaded circuit breaker can lead to a fire or someone getting electrocuted (yikes!), it’s crucial to turn off all the circuits if you think that’s the source of the vibration. Or, if you’d prefer, contact an electrician near you who can diagnose the problem safely and tell you your best next move.

3. Loose Pipe

The source of your vibrations may be a loose pipe in the wall. Unless the pipe is inaccessible, this is usually a doable fix for homeowners. 

If it’s easy to access, you can hold the loose pipe in place by adding a buffer, such as a piece of padding, rubber, or foam. Wrap your buffer around the pipe, and then clamp the strap or bracket (the curved component used to anchor the pipe) down. If you have some knowledge working with pipes, you may also retighten or reattach the loose strap.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, contact a top-rated plumber near you for help.

4. Wiring and Outlets

A hand plugging a cord to an outlet
Photo: west_photo / Adobe Stock

If one of your outlets is loose and not properly secure, it may produce a vibrating sound. Or, if some of your wiring is loose or working harder than it’s supposed to, either situation may cause vibrations. Check all the wire connections to ensure there are no breaks or faulty wires. 

Another potential source for vibrations is if the outlet itself has slack inside it, meaning there’s a loose connection between the plugs holding the wiring and the outlet. This problem is more applicable to very old outlets that might be worn out after so much use.

5. The Water Hammer Effect

The water hammer effect refers to what happens when water in your pipes hits up against a valve that’s shutting off too quickly. This is common for toilet fill valves and faucets and can produce a vibration in your walls. 

You don’t need Thor to fix this issue. Instead, you can hire a professional plumber to attach a water hammer arrestor to your pipes. Note that this is an extensive project and requires cutting into your wall. An alternative is to replace your toilet fill valves with slow-shutting fill valves.

6. Refrigerator

If the sound is coming from your fridge, a compressor may be malfunctioning. The compressor is a major component and helps circulate air throughout the entire refrigerator system.

Unplug the fan motor located in the back of the fridge, and then plug your refrigerator back in and see if you still hear the noise. If you do, the compressor may be the problem. Hire a local fridge repair service to confirm that’s the issue and to repair your compressor.

7. Dishwasher

If you think your dishwasher is the source, your steak dinner may be stuck in the chopper blade area, which dices items into smaller pieces before they get drained. The chopper blade is the part of the dishwasher that prevents clogging. 

Remove the lower spray arm that’s located at the back of the bottom part of the dishwasher (it looks like a curved piece of plastic). Also, take out the upper part of the dishwasher sump that’s attached to the bottom of the dishwasher tub (it looks like a small circular piece of plastic). 

Then, you can clear debris away from the chopper blade and see if there’s any damage, in which case you should get a replacement.