Power Outage Noise(s)

bobisculous

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So their was this really bad storm overnight here. It was hard rain, and some Serious lightning. For 30 minutes, the lightning was just constant. Neverending.

After some time, the power finnally did go out, and with it came some weird sounds. I know we have all heard this sound before, but what is it? When the power goes out, you hear, what I assume to be a transformer make a loud, zapping sound. Is this the transformer trying to restart? Or is it the sound of it frying?

You will again hear this whenever the power trys to come back on. Same old zapping noise. What exactly is this sound coming from and what is it doing?

Cameron
 

eluminator

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I've never heard this. It sounds bad. Transformers shouldn't make such a noise.

Can you tell if it's inside or outside the house?

During rain and wind storms, Those high voltage lines along the street can arc to a tree limb and cause noise. I saw this once out my front window, but as I recall all I heard was a loud boom, before the lights went out.

Please be aware that the high voltage lines are extremely lethal, even from some distance away.

I'm particularly wary of power poles with transformers on them. They have grounding wires coming down to the ground that can become dislocated and blow your head off. I suppose this doesn't happen often, but it happened to someone I knew, and that's enough for me.

Even the low voltage coming into the house can be lethal if you are well grounded, in a mud puddle, or whatever.
 

Sub_Umbra

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Your discription sounds like cracked insulators. When power wire insulators crack, moisture is absorbed into the ceramic. This moisture conducts and can make noises like Dr Frankenstein's lab. Naturally, this would be worse during and after wet weather.

If you hear the noise after dark, go outside with a pair of binoculars and look at each insulator. Sometimes you can actually see the cracks in the ceramic glowing because of the current leaking through.

I would also take a battery operated shortwave outside near the x-former and tune around a bit looking for static that exists only in proximity to that unit. This static from a cracked insulator will reap havoc with SW reception. There are other faults in x-formers that wil also cause static.

If you find static at one pole and no others you can call your power company and tell them of your findings. They will often cooperate as generating this form of rf interference is illegal and they are obligated to fix it.
 

eluminator

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Come to think of it, it depends on where you live. I've driven down the road in Torrance Ca. and every single insulator was audibly buzzing, and it wasn't raining. These were higher voltage lines than I had ever seen along a road. The poles were taller, could have been steel, and the insulators were much taller than I was used to seeing.

I guess it doesn't rain there from March to December, to wash off the insulators, and they no doubt get salt spray from the ocean.
 

yuandrew

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I've had this happen as well when I was at my Aunt's a few years ago. It was raining very hard that day and just before dinner, I was looking out the patio door and 2 seconds later, the sky lit up in a weird blue-white glow and there was this buzzing sound then a loud purple boom and the lights went out

Turns out a tree limb had brush up against some power lines a block away and the buzzing I assume is the arcing when the tree shorted a transformer then the boom was the transformer exploding

Aunt; "I haven't had a candle light dinner in a while, let's have one tonight."
 

shifty646

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yuandrew, the explosion you decribed looks like a transforming blowing.... a truly awesome sight to behold.
 

snakebite

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the buzz/fry noise is often an arc caused by a tree limb or other debris getting in contact with a wire.
the loud bang is just the fuse at the the transformer blowing.
see it a lot here when tree rats(squirrels)get on the transformer and climb the primary side insulater.
blam!! and fur floating down.makes a helluva flash too.
 

Lynx_Arc

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I lived in a neighborhood with very old large trees and every storm we could hear transformers buzzing when the lights dimmed, mostly from the substation a few blocks away, and it was a very loud BUZZZ caused by wet limbs touching the power line shorting out electricity to ground. Heavy wet leaves are a problem that electric company trims year around here to keep up with it.
 

bobisculous

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The buzzing does indeed sound like something coming from Dr Frankensteins lab. But its only 2 seconds max long. Then stops. Sometimes the power goes out, sometimes it doesnt. It also will do this when the power is trying to come back on. You will hear it, the lights will come back very dimly for a second or so, then out they go along with the sound. I am deep into this suburban area where there are NO above ground high voltage wires. Everyones electricity comes in below ground.
Unless the sound is coming from the main road into my town, which has got to be .5 miles away or so, its something else. It just sounds so much closer than that. And if it were a transformer fuse blowing, how can my electricity come back on sometimes within minutes? Wouldnt they have to fix some stuff? Also, once in a while you can hear the sound, just during some hard rain, and the power never ends up going out. Maybe flickers at most.
That video kinda rocks, thats for sure.
Can they (power companys) re-route electricity that fast, and not have to fix the line immediatly to get the power going again?

Cameron

[edit]Is that water they are shooting on the power line that finally makes it go pop? I cant tell if its water, or fast moving, sudden smoke...[/edit]
 

Lynx_Arc

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that is about how long the substation buzzes when power either dims or tries to come back on and encounters too much load from air conditioners all trying to start up again. About 2-3 seconds of LOUD BUZZING HUM.
 

bobisculous

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Lynx_Arc,
I think you know what I am hearing.
I could only imagine how much juice is having to be pumped to houses all at the exact time.
I would expect thats what this is.

Cameron
 
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