Scooby-Doo and the case of the Beeping House
May 27, 2005 4:03 PM   Subscribe

The mystery of the beeping house is haunting me. I've been following this thread on the "General Chit Chat" section of the TiVo Community for two weeks now and no one has been able to figure out WHAT is beeping in this guy's house. We have the some of the greatest minds on the internet offering theories and so far nothing has panned out. He's pulled the power on the place. He's checked every smoke and CO2 detector... all to no avail. And this dude's house has been beeping every minute, every day, for ONE YEAR. His neighborhood had a blackout, and the beep persisted.


It's gotten so absurd that at least 8 of the people in the discussion are planning to GO to the dude's house this weekend and annihilate the beep, once and for all. They've even bought "beep finding" equipment. They are the "beepbusters."
posted by neilkod (58 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a message board only for TIVO users? That's scary. What do they talk about? How to plug it in?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:09 PM on May 27, 2005

I use the TiVo forums for technical help when my box is having problems. As you can see, it is an enthusiastic and friendly crowd, if a little obsessed.
posted by brain_drain at 4:15 PM on May 27, 2005

deathwatch beetle?

or contagious media.
posted by fire&wings at 4:16 PM on May 27, 2005

Dude, Does he have an alarm system? Mine flaked out when the power supply was unplugged for a while. Maybe the battery on it is hosed...
posted by the_barbarian at 4:16 PM on May 27, 2005

This just proves my theory that TiVo isn't JUST recording your schedule of Lost — and once these "beepbusters" make it, the TiVo mafia will have them quickly exterminated like whoa.

But seriously, that had to be one of the strangest threads I've ever read. Good find.
posted by Hot Like Your 12V Wire at 4:17 PM on May 27, 2005

And there's a ticking clock too... his fiancee moves in June 17th. She wants the beep gone.
posted by Fofer at 4:19 PM on May 27, 2005

That's hilarious. I had a friend with a house in Connecticut, and when I visited, I noticed that all the smoke alarms were beeping every two minutes (and there was a smoke alarm in every room.) I asked, doesn't that beeping drive you crazy? They said they didn't even notice it until I pointed it out.

Eventually, I caved in and replaced all their batteries myself.
posted by fungible at 4:19 PM on May 27, 2005

My grandparents had a mysterious beep in their house for a few months. Finally my parents and I figured it out when we flew down there for a visit. It was a smoke alarm, all right -- in a bag, hanging from the banister of the basement stairs, where it had been left, forgotten, since it had been bought.

Drove us all nuts for a few hours until we found it. Blessed are the old, for their hearing ain't so good.
posted by gurple at 4:21 PM on May 27, 2005

That happened with me at my moms last xmas fungible, only it was one smoke detector, still pretty annoying, how do people tune that out.
posted by edgeways at 4:22 PM on May 27, 2005

the_barbarian is probably on the right track, but it might be coming from a nearby house instead of his own. Last year, there was an unoccupied townhouse near where I lived that was producing a constant beeping for several months. I think it was an errant alarms system, which typically has a backup battery so power outages don't affect it. And it was very hard to pinpoint the source of it, because it always seemed to be coming from everywhere. Someone eventually moved in and turned it off.
posted by Potsy at 4:22 PM on May 27, 2005

Hell if he was in my region Id go help him too. Although im better at locating smells.

Im not sure why this could be hard, tho. just sit in all the rooms and find out where its loudest and then search,
posted by MrLint at 4:23 PM on May 27, 2005

If the blue had "best answer" markings, I'd flag fungible and gurple -- same thing happened to me last year too. Supposedly it happens when the batteries are getting low, so I don't know how it could go on for a year. Sure would explain the persistence through a blackout, though.
posted by rkent at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2005

Cool. Metafilter was were I spent my time years ago before I found this place. I do miss the cool, soothing blue background there.

This gentleman left us for the TiVo forum. Survival of the fittest, I guess.
posted by ori at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2005

I wonder if someone planted one of these in the house.
posted by horsewithnoname at 4:36 PM on May 27, 2005

I've had something like this happen. My wife always forgets to charge her cellphone and, when it gets really low, it makes a sound like a dying calf or something. Its really kind of unpleasant to hear and its so short that sometimes it'll take a while to find.

Not a year, mind you but a little while.

Thanks for the link, I had some issues with my Tivo I needed to get sorted out and the forums are useful for it (what's up with the one search every ten seconds rule through? That is just annoying).
posted by fenriq at 4:37 PM on May 27, 2005

Ugh. I just read the article AFTER posting above of course. Quick! someone tell me to RTFA!
posted by the_barbarian at 4:39 PM on May 27, 2005

That's pretty funny. When this happened to me it turned out to be an alarm watch stuck behind a drawer. I had one 30 second opportunity per day to dash around looking for it. Maybe some kind of extra sensitive decibel meter would help?
posted by Astragalus at 4:41 PM on May 27, 2005

Tivo Users: Does it get any whiter?
posted by wfrgms at 4:43 PM on May 27, 2005

This gentleman left us for the TiVo forum. Survival of the fittest, I guess.

Heh. I'd put a dollar towards buying ParisParimus a TiVo.

On topic, what I would do if it were my house is draw a map of my house to scale, then buy or borrow a decently sensitive digital sound recorder (some MP3 players have 'em), and during the quietest part of the night, record the beep for a few minutes with the recorder in various parts of the house. Note on the map where the recorder was. Then, upload the recordings, and use a program to analyze the volume levels. This will give a whole lot of close numbers, like 67, 67, 68, 70, 65 and so on. Write these numbers on the map of the house, on the location where the recorder was when they were found. Head towards the higher numbers. Might take a few late nights to do it, but it should inevitably lead to the villainous noise. Unless the noise is moving around, of course.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:55 PM on May 27, 2005

This sounds like a device my friend told me about a few years back, called a "Hidden tormentor". It's basically a simple (and small) electronic device that is battery-powered.

The purpose of the device is to let out a single beep at about a one minute interval. Ideally, someone hides the device in a devious place and lets the fun begin!

But a year seems like a long time!

posted by newfers at 4:59 PM on May 27, 2005

Okay MeFi geniuses, you think in 1500 posts over two weeks that no one had yet suggested the beep source to be a smoke or house alarm?

The obviousness of that "solution" is already a running joke in the original TC thread.

("Mind Molester" beeping prank gadget too.)

P.S. Prerequisite t-shirts, available now!
posted by Fofer at 5:12 PM on May 27, 2005

Well, when re-doing part of my house, I found a smoke detector that had been hidden behind some drywall that was hooked up to the electronic system. It didn't beep but if it had, I would have had a devil of a time finding it. And even though those beeps tend to sound like they are coming from everywhere, it doesn't take a genius too long to pinpoint a general location. What's with this guy?
posted by j.p. Hung at 5:29 PM on May 27, 2005

In my last apartment I would hear soft tapping sounds from someone practicing drumming. Drove me insane, but none of my neighbors were responsible. After a few weeks, I finally tracked down someone drumming in a different building--the tapping was carried over to my apartment by conduction through water pipes.

Anyway, I can sympathize.
posted by Galvatron at 5:32 PM on May 27, 2005

Kid's toy stored in the attic with one helluva Energizer battery, Perhaps??? Some kinda bug that makes a beep like noise has infested the place???

If it is something like the “Mind Molester” , maybe we need to reopen the discussion on the tin foil hats
posted by PrincessLara at 5:59 PM on May 27, 2005

On the Tivo forum:

CO2 detectors?! Come on now... how stupid do they think we are? CO2 detectors, indeed!

If they made devices that checked for CO2 they'd be going off all the time. Or at least every minute or so...hey...wait a minute...

posted by NickDouglas at 6:06 PM on May 27, 2005

Sorry about that. I'll stop now.
posted by nixerman at 6:07 PM on May 27, 2005

The mysterious beep we heard in our house a few years ago was the remote control for our old TV set. It had a "find the lost remote" device that beeped, which we didn't know about. Somehow the thing got stuck and we heard the faint beep for a few days before tracking it down under a pile of laundry in a closet. I guess the dog must've carried it off.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:48 PM on May 27, 2005

posted by mcsweetie at 7:23 PM on May 27, 2005

hey, mcsweetie and newfers --

maybe it's one of those devices you intentionally torment people with? you know, like this.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:32 PM on May 27, 2005

Hm. My ex and I had a mysterious beep situation as well, it went on for about six months. When I finally located the source of the problem, it turned out to be a stopwatch that had somehow gotten stuck and would go off every hour. That made it hard to find, when it went you had to scramble to look before the alarm stopped beeping.

Didn't help that it was in a closet full of junk one had to wade through.
posted by angeline at 7:38 PM on May 27, 2005

Nixerman Wins!
posted by Balisong at 8:16 PM on May 27, 2005

When my boyfriend and I moved into our house there was one tiny kitchen drawer the previous owners had neglected to clean out. It's hard to get to, this drawer, because you have to open the dishwasher to do so...and if you should happen to open it, a strange beepy squeal fills the house. You can root around looking for the source, but after about twenty seconds it stops and you can't find any likely candidates. So we have left it alone -- all the letter openers and empty Scotch tape rolls just sit in there, along with the strange sound.

That said, I cannot imagine living with the beep for a year. Must be a personality thing. Neat post.
posted by climalene at 8:57 PM on May 27, 2005

I recall a story from Fortean Times in which a man received one of those Christmas cards that plays a melody when opened. The card was put up on top of a cabinet, then slipped down into the crack between the cabinet and the wall. The card proceeded to play "Silent Night" continiously for days!

The fellow eventually ended up tearing the cabinet off the wall to get at the card and make to stop.

As for this fellow: may I suggest a long-forgotten wrist- or sports watch with a timer function? It would use very little power and could easily run a year before stopping.
posted by SPrintF at 9:04 PM on May 27, 2005

Oriole, I'd like to point out that it did work, and you did find the remote despite not knowing it was lost!
posted by ilsa at 9:17 PM on May 27, 2005

This is like House of Leaves but, you know, silly.
posted by papakwanz at 9:45 PM on May 27, 2005

In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a woman in Australia. She said, "Knock it off!."

-- Steven Wright
posted by I EAT TAPES at 10:00 PM on May 27, 2005

Might I suggest a brute force approch?
posted by phyrewerx at 10:00 PM on May 27, 2005

1500 posts! This is hysterical. Can someone please post to MeFi if/when the source of beeping is discovered?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:11 PM on May 27, 2005

My parents had something similar in their kitchen. It would beep for about 2 seconds every 20 minutes. It is impossible to localize a sound in that short a period. Thoughts included that it might be coming from above the ceiling or from the apt next door.

Eventually it turned out to be some tiny gizmo complaining about its battery that was under a counter in the kitchen. I'ts beep did not sound that low.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:49 PM on May 27, 2005

I actually read the entire thread and have to say to most of you: Smeep.

Fofer - glad to see you here. :) A very nice community you have over there.

Stupid Beep (hank) Story - We too had a beep incident, however at the time it was more of a squeek. We ran around the house searching and finally isolated the squeek to a jacket pocket. We eyed the cat suspiciously.

Carefully we transported the jacket into the laundry room just in case we happened upon a modest mouse with his girlfriend. My father carefully pulled open the jacket pocket while I perched above with gloved hand to catch the bugger.

It was my pac-man watch slowly dying a horrid death of neglect. I hope the beep is found so I can continue my faith in the internet as the solver of all problems. *Bows towards AskMe*
posted by jopreacher at 11:38 PM on May 27, 2005

One evening in my house a reasonably high pitched, continous, noise suddenly started. Quite quiet but unmistakably real (ie: not my tinitus which is usually my first assumption on hearing mysterous tones.) It was sufficently high pitched that, with echos and interference and standing waves and what not, it seemed to come from everywhere. Not everywhere at once mind you, just one place and then another. I'd stop, and listen, and I'd swear I had a bead on the direction it was coming from. But if I moved my head two inches one way or another it would sound as if it was coming from somewhere else entirely.

But as it was continous I figured I stood a chance of finding it by volume alone. So the next little while was spent tip-toeing silently round the house trying to detect where it was loudest. Step step listen. Step step listen. And I'll be damned if it didn't sound equally loud all over the house. What the hell sort of noise was this?!?

After a while of searching, giving and up trying to ignoring it, giving up giving up and searching again, I look at my watch. "Oh, my watch has stopped". I give the glass a little tap and it starts ticking again and THE NOISE STOPPED. Argh! Everywhere I went in my search for the mystery noise, sure enough there it was right with me.

I can't help but think, if I had taken a momment to literally scratch my head and thinking about it for a minute I would have incidentially put my wrist up to my ear and saved myself a evening of frustration.
posted by adamt at 12:24 AM on May 28, 2005

posted by growabrain at 2:54 AM on May 28, 2005

Is there a large truck backing up in your living room? heh.
posted by yoga at 4:52 AM on May 28, 2005

I had a beep-mystery that turned out to be a dying smoke detector abandoned in a pile of junk in my backyard neighbor's junky old garage, at 3 IN THE MORNING. I just smashed it in my pajamas. ( it got in my pajamas, ...)

I also had a lightswitch in my office at school that did nothing. I too would flip it every now and then. One day, I just happened to look up in the closet and noticed there was a burned out light in it. This was eight years after I got there. It took a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to replace the nonstandard bulb, so that's probably why it was burned out in the first place.
posted by ancientgower at 8:13 AM on May 28, 2005

It took the beepbusting crew about an hour, but on May 28th, 2005, 1:14 EST ... the beep was declared dead.

Be prepared for a let down.

Side note: the homeowner put up with it for a year? Where can I buy that sort of zen patience?
posted by Fofer at 10:59 AM on May 28, 2005

Slarty Bartfast asked: "Can someone please post to MeFi if/when the source of beeping is discovered?"

Major anticlimactic. It was in an end table next to the couch, "Not far from the big screen TV and the nearly dead HD DTivo." It was a little white box a bit larger than the palm of your hand. They got a cellphone picture of it but it's kinda grainy. I think they fed it to a dog..?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:01 AM on May 28, 2005

How could this jackass not have looked in his end table for a whole year? What a putz.
posted by notmydesk at 11:10 AM on May 28, 2005

I had a beeping smoke alarm once - it wouldn't stop even after I disconnected it from the wall AND pulled the battery. It was two in the morning and I ended up burying it in the woods behind the house. It was the only way. Most bizarre thing I've ever seen/heard - I've never understood where it was getting the power to keep beeping.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:34 PM on May 28, 2005

adamt's story is way better than the FPP's story.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:44 PM on May 28, 2005

An alarm in a drawer?


Anyone ever wind up with a dead mouse stuck in a wall? Now that's torture.
posted by Jon-o at 11:55 PM on May 28, 2005

Mygothlaundry - That smoke alarm is still beeping, deep beneath the earth in the darkness of the woods. And every time it beeps, it gets just a little closer to the house.
posted by tomble at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2005

Jon-o: how about a dead snake stuck inside a car door panel?

Or you could have The Tell-Tale Heart...
Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"
posted by five fresh fish at 7:31 AM on May 29, 2005

Props for the thread title.
posted by theora55 at 7:57 AM on May 29, 2005

note to self: instead of reading 1700 or so posts on a beeping house in Virginia on a TiVo forum, read to the end of the comments in MeFi.

that might have taken the cake as the worst spent afternoon of my life.

posted by RedEmma at 11:01 AM on May 29, 2005

tomble, you're freaking me out, man.
posted by deborah at 12:47 PM on May 29, 2005

For those of you still curious....

It was a carbon monoxide detector, in a drawer, in the guy's living room.

Rather anticlimactic...
posted by curtm at 11:07 AM on May 30, 2005

Hmm. I figured it was one of these.
posted by horsewithnoname at 5:05 PM on May 30, 2005

The Onion is apparently on the case.
posted by trey at 1:53 PM on May 31, 2005

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