Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Building and Planning to be Involved

The Alderman's Office contacted us to let us know that Calgary Building and Planning will be in touch with us. The noise continues to bother us, and our neighbours. We are concerned that we do not know what it is, and what the implications of it are (health, safety, etc).

It seems odd, given this noise has been bothering us for so long, that the City has not sent out sound engineers with the proper equipment to locate where this is coming from. It seems logical that if a noise is being bothersome in this way, and is proving elusive to locate, the proper course of action would be to send out sound engineers whose job it is to find noise sources. To me, it would be most cost effective, and time effective: track the noise down using the right tools and people for the job, then address the issue directly based on the findings.

My understanding from the City is that they do work with sound engineers, for example, with respect to road noise complaints. I have spoken at length with two sound engineering companies who have experience tracking down noise, and finding solutions for noise problems. One would think that a city such as Calgary would have access to professionals such as this.

We will be discussing this point with the Alderman in the next short while.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brief History of Some Steps Taken

We are still dealing with an obtrusive noise in our house. The noise that we hear in our house sounds like a "hum" that can be so intense, it seems like the house walls should be vibrating. This situation is something we have been dealing with since July, 2008. Our neighbours to the left and right of us have also noticed the noise. All three of us have called the Alderman's Office to get some help.

The steps taken to identify, locate and stop this sound include:

1. Enmax
Enmax has sent troubleshooting linemen to the house 3 times. The first lineman came to the huse in July and disconnected the house from the city's power grid. This determined that the cause of the noise was not an electrical one from our house; when the power was cut off to our house, the noise was still plainly audible. The lineman who was here in July was able to hear the noise. He and his partner went to the Telus switching station in Arbour Lake and noticed the same sound coming from that building as we are hearing in our house.
After much prodding from the Alderman's office, Enmax returned in November to install monitors on our house, and at the green box that regulates power in our immediate area. The lineman who installed and removed these monitors heard the noise and commented that it sounded similar to what he hears when he is swimming underwater at an indoor pool. Other Enmax linemen have been less than cooperative, claiming that the noise is caused by whirlygigs on top of people's houses, or by wind blowing through the soffit - this doesn't explain "why" we hear the noise on quiet days, however.
The district supervisor for Enmax has been very cooperative, and took quite a few steps towards helping us with this problem. He was also very helpful on the phone and with suggestions.

ATCO has been to the house 3 times: once in July, once in December and once in January. They've determined there are no gas leaks in and around our house, have come into the house to listen to the noise, and have replaced our gas meter. The trouble-shooting team that came to the house, and the district supervisor from ATCO have been also quite cooperative.
ATCO has stated that they believe that based on their investigations, they are of the opinion that the noise is being caused by something electrical.

3. City of Calgary Fire Department
The Fire Department came to our house in July to determine that our house was safe to be in. Three of the four firemen who came to our house heard the noise, but were at a loss as to what it was.

4. City of Calgary Bylaw
A Bylaw Officer came to our house in August. He used a decibel meter to measure the sound. His meter determined that the sound was within 'legal limits'. Although, he admitted, this did not mean that the noise was causing a great deal of discomfort for us.
***Added Jan 13*** The Bylaw Officer admitted that a decibel meter, such as the City assigns him to use, is likely not the correct one to use in a situation like this. The noise varies in intensity, and when the Bylaw Officer was at our house to take his measurement, the noise was actually faint. It would have been interesting to have him over to take the reading when the noise was at a more intense level.

5. Telus
On five different occasions, at five different times of day (early afternoon, evening, late evening, night, late night and early morning) in July I 'followed' the sound to the Telus switching station in Arbour Lake. I spoke with a district manager, an engineer and an on-site technician. They told me that at the station, in late-June and early July, Telus increased the number of industrial sized A/C units from four to six. All were operational starting in July.

6. Shaw
Shaw Cable said that they do not have any devices that could cause a noise such as we are hearing installed in our neighbourhood or close to our home.

7. City of Calgary Water Services
Water Services came to our house in July, and again in November. The responders who came in November were much more helpful and interested in seeing if they could locate the noise. They used two different monitors to listen to the water lines at our house, and along our street. They were not able to hear the noise we are hearing when they were here.

8. City of Calgary Sewer Services
I spoke to this department in July. They told me on the phone that there was not anything that they had in our area that could cause this noise. I mentioned that it sounded like a large electric pump running under our house.

9. Sound engineering/noise isolation company
A sound engineer company came to our house in September with a spectrum analyzer. The engineer said that he personally was not able to hear the noise; however, the device registered a noise at 125 Hz. The engineer stated that at this frequency, a noise is commonly man-made and not as a result of nature.

10. City of Calgary Planning and Development
I spoke to the Panning and Development Department in September to ask if there was anything they might know about that could be causing this noise. They were not able to come up with anything specific, but mentioned that there was an electrical sub-station for the new LRT line within a few blocks of our street. They also suggested that we should look around for anything "suspicious" such as large antennas.

11. Industry Canada
I phoned and spoke with Industry Canada in July to ask if radio frequencies could be causing this noise. I was told there wasn't. However, since speaking to Industry Canada, I've spoken to a second sound engineer who has told me that long wave radio frequencies can in fact cause a noise such as we're hearing.

12. City of Calgary 3-1-1
We've spoken to various 3-1-1 operators. All have been good listeners, and have been able to recommend various city departments for us to talk to.

13. City of Calgary Police
After speaking with a dispatch officer about the situation, he did not believe that the situation warranted a police response. He did provide information about what to look for that could be an illegal operation, such as a grow-op.

More information will be posted in the next short while. Any thoughts, suggestions, and/or feedback is most welcome either here, or via email at

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Email contact:

The noise has continued on and off in our Ranchlands area during the Christmas Season.

A recent article in the Ranchlands Round Up pointed to this blog as being a place to share ideas & concerns regarding this continuing issue.

Some people may be more comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas via email. Please feel free to be in touch at

All the best to everyone in 2009! Here's to a noise-free year :-)