What to do about a neighbor’s generator running nonstop?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

“Dear PoPville,

What to do about a neighbor who has been running an electrical generator early nonstop since Saturday? It’s definitely a noise nuisance, and I’m pretty sure no one should need to do this if they have power otherwise. Any ideas? This is near the intersection of 13th and Taylor. Finally called MPD last night who said an officer would be dispatched, but it only shut off for some brief period in the night and was back on before I left for work this morning.”

23 Comment

  • Try talking to them? I’d guess they have some reason to be running it. If its loud for you, I doubt they like living through the sound of a generator in their own home.

    • You’d think “talk to them” would come before “post on the internet” and “call the police” in the list of ways to respond to this situation.

      • You’d think, but what do you do when the house in question is constantly full of all kinds of characters coming in/out at all hours of the night and day, the house is constantly the source of serious trash problems and vermin, and the house makes you feel unsafe to walk over there and “talk to them”?! I think most people are smart – and neighborly – enough to consider talking to their neighbor as a first option unless they feel their safety is at risk, so please don’t be so quick to judge and point out what seems to obvious to you.

        • Well given that another commenter already went over and talked to the house in question; it seems none of the things you mention are going on….

          • In this instance, no. But it’s the general judging and Captain Obvious attitude that always gets me on these forums when people think they know what’s best despite having what is likely a fraction of the story.

  • A couple of neighbors and I went over and talked with the residents. Their electrical panel exploded. PEPCO is working with them and suppose to be out there today to hopefully repair and restore power. The generator is running to keep their infant daughter cool and keep a few perishable food items from perishing. I hope the noise ends soon too, but I really feel for the family. No one is more inconvenienced than they.

    • This is very “This is Water.” Definitely an inconvenience for you (and I completely sympathize after living in W. Africa- that sound is grating), but sounds like it’s necessary for them.

    • Well, that takes care of that. I guess talking to them really was the solution. Who knew?

  • Related: how do I talk to my neighbor about this/advice: my neighbor runs their AC and the water vapor deposits on their roof, which then drips off to the side, into my garden. It’s not harming any plants (it seems), but it results in standing water which attracts mosquitoes. Should I just get some sand and much to create a sponge for it? I mentioned it to them once because I was worried that it might cause roof damage, but they didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.

    • You might mention your real cause of concern (their water, your garden, everyone’s mosquitoes). You could probably then team up to use a hose to direct the moisture to their gutter.

    • Drop Mosquito Bits in any standing water, and enjoy the free watering.

    • Is their a/c a roof unit? If so, maybe just a cheap piece of hose to attach to where the condensate discharges to direct it to a gutter/elsewhere. I did this to keep condensate from pooling at my skylight. $5 solution.

  • We had a similar problem last year when a house ran a generator every night and all night for – no joke – 8 months straight. It had us at the end of our rope, especially since we don’t have AC and have open windows at night in spring, summer, and fall, and could hear it singing all night long (and let me tell you, it’s the opposite of white noise). At the beginning we tolerated it because we knew the house and the residents’ situation well enough to know that the power had been cut off likely due to lack of payment of bills. But when it hit a month, then two months, then just kept going that way, we knew they had little intention of catching up on their bills, and that it was likely easier for them to pay cash for gasoline since the house was full of so many transient people who have probably seen better times in their lives.

    Finally at month 8, we couldn’t take it anymore, investigated who is responsible for such things (it should be noted that the house had a fire from negligence the year before), and found out from calling various DC gov offices that the police were the only ones to call because there was noise violation. So we called the police every night it went on, and within a week of doing that, the generator finally went away. I also know we were not the only neighbor to be taking this approach – there were several others, and we found each other through Popville! http://www.popville.com/2013/08/dear-popville-any-laws-governing-the-use-of-generators/

  • Somebody is cooking that Heizenberg!!!

  • Well; yes some neighbors have spoken to these people; and they said the repairs are coming soon. Well we are still waiting and there are no repairs. 1 neighbor called because they were stealing power from a light pole and Pepco quickly responded to that.

    The “we need a/c for our baby”; was fine when it was 90 degrees; but now it’s 64 degrees outside and the generator is still running. When you can’t hear your own TV in your own home – there is a problem – don’t ya think?

  • Thankfully the generator isn’t running tonight, but if it starts up again, I’m calling the police and encouraging my neighbors to do the same.

    Here’s why: (1) it’s been going on for almost a week now, long enough for any emergency situation to be fixed, (2) it’s loud, far exceeding the legal noise levels in the neighborhood, (3) it’s a fire hazard, creating a safety risk for everyone living nearby, (4) it’s illegal to continuously operate a generator in DC unless there’s been a natural disaster, (5) gas generators belch out harmful pollutants that it don’t want to breathe in every time I’m in my backyard.

    • Let’s see, according to a post above this, the people with the generator had an emergency and are actively working to correct the problem. At the price of their own discomfort, you note that they are not, now, running the generator, which means that you are not, now being disturbed. Yet, you are already anticipating that you will call the police and mobilize others to do the same if your neighbors decide that their need for electricity to supersedes their need and yours for peace and quiet. Gosh, you sound like a great neighbor. I wonder if you — or any of the neighbors that you’re trying to mobilize to call the police — have offered to keep food for them in your refrigerator? Or let them use your kitchen? Or babysit? Think of everything that you are now using electricity for. Think of being without it. Think of being without it with a baby in the house. Karma…..

      • Note that the poster above also mentioned that the problem started when they were reported to be stealing power from a light pole. I’ve heard other stories from neighbors that confirm that. This doesn’t sound like an “emergency” as it’s a problem of their own creation.

        I’ll keep in mind that if I ever have my own scheme to steal electricity, you have already wished bad karma on it. I think I can live with that.

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  • Okay, so he’s at it again. You can almost hear the quotable tweets (if there were any), even as the lines slur from Neeson’s mouth. Having become something of a staple, albeit surprising, action-hero in the past few years with the likes of Taken and its risible sequel and others, Liam Neeson returns to play an Air Marshall with problems of his own on a flight that requires nothing if not his full attention.

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