Bamboozled October 9, 2017: Help! Can you identify mystery noises torturing condo owner?

It mostly happens in the overnight or early morning hours.

Two different kinds of noises.

The louder one sounds like a fizz, said Marge Hefferon, a Morristown condo owner. The other she describes as an electrical buzz.

She can hear the noises throughout her home, but it’s louder in some places, she said.

The exact source of the noise is a mystery, but Hefferon said she knows when it started.

On Jan. 27, the electricity went out at her home, she said. JCP&L installed a “service saver” that night, which the company describes as a device used to restore full service to a customer when repairs are needed to underground wires.

The next morning, the problem began.

“At 7 a.m. a loud ‘boom’ jolted me awake,” Hefferon said. “There has been noise ever since.”

Hefferon called the fire department. The volunteer fireman who came was unable to determine where the “boom” came from, and he recommended Hefferon have her furnace checked.

But it wasn’t that simple.

For the next eight months, there were multiple visits from JCP&L employees and a dozen independent contractors who tried to diagnose the noise.

JCP&L says the noise isn’t an electrical issue, but may be a mechanical one.

But Hefferon has paid $1,800 to independent professionals — seven HVAC contractors and five other contractors — and all said they couldn’t find a mechanical cause.

And still, the noises continue.

THE INVESTIGATION

After the fireman left, Hefferon said, she called the original installer of the furnace and the air conditioner.

Both are only eight years old, and the tech said they looked okay.

The noise continued.

On Feb. 15, JCP&L removed the “service saver.”

But the noise remained, getting under Hefferon’s skin more every day.

Hefferon called for a second opinion on Feb. 17. A second company said the furnace was fine.

The original installer came back on Feb. 22, but again, couldn’t find a problem.

In the weeks that followed, a chimney guy, another HVAC professional and an electrician all came up empty.

“It is no coincidence that the electric ‘service saver’ that was put on the electric box did something to the electricity and noise occurred,” she said.

The electrician spoke to JCP&L on Hefferon’s behalf, and they discussed the voltage, she said, but JCP&L said nothing was amiss.

By April, Hefferon hired another HVAC tech. At her request, he removed a humidifier from the furnace.

The noise was quieter, but it wasn’t gone.

Later in the month, another HVAC came and checked the furnace again.

He changed a furnace breaker, Hefferon said, but the noise remained.

Frustrated, Hefferon sent a letter to JCP&L executives. After that, she said, multiple techs and supervisors came but no one witnessed the noise.

That’s because the workers came in daylight hours, but the noise usually came at night, Hefferon said.

She said she requested a tech come after normal business hours, but she said she was told no. Instead, one employee who lived nearby offered his cell number and said she could call anytime and he would come by.

Hefferon said she called several times when the noise was there, but the employee didn’t answer the calls.

By now it was May.

On May 25, two JCP&L workers came at 10 a.m., Hefferon said.

“Usually there was no noise at that time but there was noise. They stood there looking at each other,” she said. “The noise was not extremely loud but not faint either. It was easy to hear. I was flabbergasted when they said they did not hear it.”

Hefferon filed a complaint with the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), convinced the noise was caused when JCP&L added the “service saver.”

In the second week of July, four JCP&L workers came to the home.

“I was glad they came and wanted to find out what they would do,” she said. “There was no noise then. They were very much into checking voltage.”

The next day a voltmeter was put outside, she said.

Marge Hefferon listens for the noises.

Separately, JCP&L noted one of the breakers on Hefferon’s electrical panel needed replacing.

An electrician came to the house twice and made the change, but he, too, found no cause for the noise, Hefferon said.

The persistent yet inconsistent noise.

On July 28, Hefferon called a JCP&L supervisor who had provided his cell number. He arrived at the home in about 30 minutes, Hefferon said, when the noise was fading, but still there.

“He listened and said it was a faint noise. He heard it,” Hefferon said. “But he told his boss later that he didn’t hear it.”

This might have been a misunderstanding. The employee later said he heard a small clock ticking from across the room, but not the noise.

“The little clock was not as loud as the noise,” Hefferon said.

Then Hefferon received a letter from JCP&L with the results of the voltmeter.

“The actual voltage range recorded at your home was 116.5V-125V,” the letter said. “Based on these findings, your electrical service is intact and operating normally.”

BPU came back with the same information.

“The company has confirmed that this is not an electrical issue,” BPU said. “It is my understanding that JCP&L has recommended your mechanical equipment be checked.”

Hefferon said JCP&L only checked the voltage, “which is at the maximum and does not confirm that this is mechanical rather than electric as JCP&L states.”

And, none of the contractors who had come to the home found a mechanical issue.

But she was willing to do anything to get the noise to stop.

On Aug. 30, Hefferon hired yet another HVAC contractor.

“He heard noise in the house and checked everything. He heard a noise from a transformer and disconnected it,” Hefferon said. “He thought the noise was gone but it came back.”

So the next day, another HVAC tech came.

He, too, found nothing.

Hefferon is convinced the electricity in her home was somehow affected by the “service saver.”

Unsure of what to do next, Hefferon asked Bamboozled for help.

MAKE IT STOP!

Our photographer didn’t hear the noise when he visited Hefferon’s home, and she was unable to record the noise for us to play it here.

We asked JCP&L if it had any ideas to solve the mystery.

The company said its policy is not to discuss specific customer information, but that “delivering safe and reliable service to customers is JCP&L’s top priority.”

And the mystery continues…

“In this instance it is important to note that the company has had numerous employees and management including technicians, engineers, linemen and supervisors meet with the customer, inspect JCP&L’s equipment and perform tests,” a spokesman said. “None have heard the noise.”

“We have determined there are no problems or issues with JCP&L’s service or equipment,” the spokesman said.

But, JCP&L said, it would continue to work with Hefferon to try to resolve the problem.

Hefferon said she’s willing to do anything  even to allow JCP&L employees to stay a few nights in the home while she goes to a hotel so they can hear it for themselves.

She said she has concerns about an electrical fire, and she worries that the unexplained noise could be a problem when she eventually sells her home.

And, she said, she wouldn’t wish the mystery noises on anyone.

For the record, we asked: Hefferon doesn’t wear a hearing aid or anything else that might make a noise or interfere with her hearing.

She’s asking for help.

So now we turn to you, dear readers.

We know Bamboozled followers are experts at all sorts of things. We’re hoping someone can step up with suggestions here.

“If some people out there have had noise in their homes perhaps they could relay some knowledge on how to get rid of the noise which is my prime objective,” Hefferon said. “I do not know how much longer I can stand this.”

Advertisements