What’s Haunting Your House?
What It Could Be...
- You’re tired. Lack of sleep, especially REM sleep, can make you think you’re hearing things. “A brain lacking sleep or under emotional stress is like a brain on drugs,” says Houran. “When I used to stay up all night in college cramming for exams, phantom voices often plagued me. Proper nutrition and healthy sleep the next day exorcized the spirits.”
- The electronics are talking back. Radio waves can interfere with audio devices. That means you could be watching The Price Is Right when a CB radio interjects, “Papa Bear to Baby Bear. Do you copy?” Thankfully, since this applies only to audio gadgets, you won’t hear your toaster play “Fly Me to the Moon” or your blender criticize your banana daiquiris.
- Your aquarium. Wilson and Hawes once cracked a case in Connecticut in which home owners were positive they heard voices. The team traced the sounds to a fish tank―but the guppies were not plotting a great escape. “The water filter was releasing air, and it sounded just like voices,” says Hawes.
Unsolved Mystery: Banging, Scratching, Footsteps, and Rat-a-tat-tat Sounds
What It Could Be...
- The neighbors. Do you have any idea what’s going on over there? “We had one client who claimed she heard ghosts banging on her wall,” says Hawes. “It ended up being the guy in the next town house over bringing girls home at one in the morning.”
- Your home is critter party central. “We visited a house where a woman claimed her cat would freak out at one spot on a wall,” says Hawes. “Turned out there was a chipmunk living in there.”
- Your heating or cooling system. These often cause floors and walls to warm up or cool down unevenly. Picture hot air traveling through a duct under your hallway floor. The section of duct closest to the furnace will warm up slightly faster than the part a few feet farther along the hall. As that first area of duct warms, the floor above it might expand slightly, making a creak. Then the second section of duct warms, making another creak, and so on. The result? Creepy footstep sounds.
- Your pipes. If your radiator has air in its supply or return pipes (it shouldn’t, but that can happen, especially after plumbing work), fluctuations in water pressure can make a rat-a-tat-tat sound.