The Crown Hill ‘hum’?

Matt sent us the following email about a “hum” he’s been hearing in Crown Hill:

I live up on the 105th and 9th and over the past couple of nights I’ve heard what sounds like a diesel engine idling in the distance. Its heard more inside than outside (probably due to the structure of the house) and mostly at night (probably because there’s less car noise/air noise to drown it out). My girlfriend is unable to hear it, but according to a few articles (here, here and here) that’s common.

I have a Masters in Physics and like to consider myself a vigilant skeptic, but I don’t hear this noise anywhere else (I have tinnitus from scuba diving and know the difference). According to what I’ve read, these things are extremely hard to track down due to its low frequency and most time’s it remains a ‘mystery’ (i.e. The Taos Hum). But it could be a simple answer like a new fan at the Carkeek sewage treatment plant or a railroad work crew clearing a mudslide, not sure.

Anyway, just curious if anyone in the neighborhoods heard it at well.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

25 thoughts to “The Crown Hill ‘hum’?”

  1. We frequently hear a low-pitched sound, if atmospheric conditions are right. The sound comes from trains waiting for others to pass, near the Blue Ridge beach. We are much closer to the tracks than Matt is, but far enough so that the atmospheric conditions have a lot to do with whether we hear the train or not. Sometimes we cannot hear it, and sometimes it sounds like it is just outside our door.

  2. Yes I hear it late at night 11pm or later..especially when it is clear out. One night it was so loud during the summer with our windows open..that I got out of bed and drove around looking for the source. I live on 81st and 8th

  3. I’m southwest of you in Sunset Hill and I hear it too. Noticed it last night, probably around 11 or 11:30 pm. I have heard it before too, only at night. Doesn’t seem to disturb the husband or the dog, just me.

  4. I listen to Coast to coast at night about every night. Recently they’ve been receiving calls about something close to this from people all over America. Perhaps some are more sensitive to their surroundings than others too. I’ll buy the train theory. Could also be a new machine running something, somewhere. Very cool though, as long as it isn’t harming or keeping you awake!

  5. The trains engines running at high RPM in the BNSF maintenance yard just south of Fishermen’s Terminal are creating the noise you are all hearing. Especially when a southerly wind (like last few nights) carries the sound North.

  6. The trains engines running at high RPM in the BNSF maintenance yard just south of Fishermen’s Terminal are creating the noise you are all hearing. Especially when a southerly wind (like last few nights) carries the sound North.

  7. Not even the high RPM, when they’re in the low RPMs (idle, no throttle applied) it makes similar noises. It echos off of Queen Anne and Magnolia and when the train moves, it changes.

  8. Thanks Rod, interesting… it definitely has the monotonous train diesel hum to it, but that far south… geesh. Hopefully, the winds will shift soon (out to sea would be good).

  9. I live near Swedish Hospital and I hear a hum like a generator running every single night for the past year. Starts late at night and stops around 3am or so.

  10. There is a generator/exhaust vent/something on top of the Bartell at 56th & 22nd that can be rediculously loud. One night I parked in their lot and as I got out of my car, I had to stand there in shock for a second as I realized it was the source of the sound I’d been hearing for so long. I know I sound crazy but I swear when it’s very quiet at night I can hear it all the way up on 70th.

    It has a different sound than what the trains make. I’d describe their sound as more of a quietly-noisy-rumble. :)

    But the diesel generator sound.. sounds like a diesel generator. I suspect it’s coming from that Bartels.

  11. Has a large, new building been built nearby? When the Ballard on the Park building was built, folks several blocks north heard a hum…from one of the building’s systems…

  12. QFC up there, could have gotten new ventallation equipment. or another larger size building.

    but i like to think its neighbors using diesel generators to supply power for their growing of weed!!

  13. I experienced this the other night while sleeping in our upstairs bedroom. I couldn’t detect it from downstairs, but could hear it on the back deck.

  14. I have heard it for several nights now. It is a very loud drone. I used to hear this noise in my old neighborhood which was a big part of why I moved. I describe it as a constant electrical hum and I can feel its vibration as well in my ears and in general. I have lived in Ballard for many years and this is the first time I’ve heard it so many nights in a row. I am worried it is coming from new development and here to stay. For those who are sensitive to it it can feel you will go insane if it does not stop and you can’t get some quiet. I really really hope it goes away.

  15. I took a walk down to Carkeek Park today and heard the low frequency rumble of the sewage treatment plant. It was definitely putting out a sound in line with the definition of a ‘Hum’. I’m not sure if they’ve done some maintenance recently, but whatever that burner sound it makes (burning off methane, sewer gas?) fills the whole Carkeek valley with that sound. I’ve lived off Carkeek for five months and haven’t heard it until now. I have an email in to see if they’ve changed something recently. Unfortunately there’s very little way to enforce ‘low frequency’ noise as it lays outside of the traditional definition. But we’ll see… it definitely degrades quality of life.

  16. The past couple nights have been less intense. I hope this occurrence continues to wane then disappears altogether. Thanks for posting to begin with Matt and investigating.

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