Mystery vibrations have Green Bay couple spinning
Ehrfurths at loss to explain home's annoying noises
Bob and Leona Ehrfurth are very sensitive to the possibility that people might think they're crazy.
For the record, they're not — but they are being driven that way.
For two years now, the Ehrfurths have been enduring an annoying, persistent noise in their home — a low, motor-like rumble accompanied by a vibration. They can't figure out what's causing it, and it's been a challenge getting others to believe them because the problem starts and stops.
They've lived in the house at 2048 Mary Queen Road for 42 years, and it's only been the last two years that it's been a problem.
"It's like there's a semi parked right outside with the engine running, but when you look out, there isn't one," said Leona Ehrfurth, 76.
And it quits at the most inconvenient times. Like when they bring city officials, acoustic experts or news reporters into their house to experience the problem.
City officials spent $1,000 to hire a company to do some testing this spring; the tester heard no noise, and his equipment failed to measure vibration of any significance.
Nicholson hoped the equipment could be used inside one of the factories in the general neighborhood, but Municipal Judge Jerry Hanson wouldn't sign the inspection warrant that would allow that.
"There has to be some reasonable suspicion of some type of violation you could point to," Hanson said. "Nobody's been able to come up with anything that would point to anything specific."
"Now they KNOW we're crazy," Bob Ehrfurth, 75, grumbled after explaining how a technical expert installed vibration-monitoring equipment in their house and failed to measure anything of significance.
"Imagine putting your pillow on the hood of a running car — you can't sleep through that," Leona Ehrfurth said. "You get this pressure in your ear. Sometimes I have to get out of the house, because I can't take it anymore."
Bob Ehrfurth can sleep through it, but he doesn't like it.
"It doesn't matter if the windows are open or closed — you still hear it," he said. "It's worse in the winter."
Although the two aren't in the best of health, the problem is not with them because when they leave, they don't hear the noise, Bob Ehrfurth said.
The Ehrfurths' immediate neighbors haven't complained about the noise, but the Ehrfurths have had a few people admit hearing the noise. An engineering teacher told the city's Protection & Welfare Committee he tried to help the Ehrfurths investigate the matter, and said he experienced a throbbing sensation in his ears while in the neighborhood and in their house. A resident from about a mile away made similar complaints.
"Yeah, I've experienced it," said Alderman Andy Nicholson, who has been trying to help the Ehrfurths. "It's like an engine thing, a low-frequency vibration. I think it would be an annoyance."
But the source remains a mystery.
The Ehrfurths said they started hearing the noise shortly after St. Bernard's Parish, directly across the street from them, redid its roofing, chimney and ductwork on the wing of its school building. But parish staff members proved to the Ehrfurths that their building wasn't the source when they shut off all of their equipment and the noise continued.
The frustration as well as the annoyance of the noise itself has driven Leona Ehrfurth to tears. She broke down at two public meetings as she tried to explain it.
"He's 75 and I'm 76, and we're both failing fast," she said. "I can't take it. I try to stay in bed, but I get such a bad headache, I can't take it. I have to hang out in the basement or try sleeping in the sunroom (where the noise is less bothersome).
"We could move, but why should we have to? We didn't cause it."