All of us have experienced that moment of lurching fear upon hearing a strange creaking or wailing in the dark of the night. Perhaps it was a thud or a rattle in the basement that woke you, or maybe you heard a gurgle or scratching from within the walls or a wailing emanating from your drains. All are equally strange, and some can be downright terrifying. The good news is, each of these sounds (and a whole host of other worrying noises) are probably not ghosts or other supernatural entities invading your home. Instead, they are likely normal noises caused by your plumbing, your HVAC system, or some other part of your house.
Just because a noise has a natural explanation, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t scary. In fact, some of these noises may be signs of serious problems within your home, so be prepared to call your plumber or your Olathe heating and cooling service professional if one of the items on this list sounds like what you’ve been hearing in the house at night.
Scratching and Skittering in the Walls. Those noises coming from inside the walls might actually be an intruder, but not necessarily the spectral kind. Squirrels, raccoons, birds, mice, and rats have all been known to get into attics or even inside walls themselves and cause all sorts of noises, especially if they get stuck and panic trying to get out.
Phantom Footsteps on the Roof. If you have an unfinished attic that can serve as an amplifier, a squirrel or other critter on the rooftop might sound like something sinister pacing or running on the roof or even inside the attic itself. If you have an oak or other tree that hangs over the roof, falling acorns can also sound pretty startling. You might want to have those branches trimmed back for your peace of mind and to help keep your gutters free from debris.
Clanking and Thuds. The first time you crank up your furnace in the fall, you might hear a variety of odd noises, including thuds, pops, and clanks as the ductwork expands. This is the result of temperature changes in the metal. As the furnace gets up some steam and starts warming the house, you may hear other noises as a result of the house warming up relative to the temperature outside. This may lead to…
Creaking and Groaning. While we think of them as pretty solid and stable, most of the materials that make up our house actually change shape and size slightly as temperatures change. From the wood frame of the house itself to the nails that hold the wood together to the glass in the windows, everything expands and contracts at different rates throughout the day and night. On a fall evening, as warm days cool off pretty quickly into chilly nights, this expansion and contraction can cause a wide range of spooky noises.
Whistling and Wailing. The most likely culprit isn’t a banshee but rather inefficient weather stripping around your windows or doors. Either the windows weren’t installed properly in the first place or the seal has weakened over time. Not only is the sound creepy, it might also mean that you’re losing a lot of your heat through those poorly sealed windows or doors. On the other hand, if you’re hearing a whistling when the furnace kicks on but not at other times, it may mean that your filter needs to be changed. You should be doing that once every month or so regardless.
Banging and Hammering. Few noises are more disconcerting than a sudden banging or hammering coming from the walls of your house, especially when you’re in the midst of a deep sleep. Fortunately, the noise is probably not spectral in nature. More likely, it’s coming from your pipes. Pockets of air pressure build up in your pipes over time, and when the water in the pipes moves—such as when the faucet is turned on or off somewhere else in the house—that pressure moves too, causing the pipes to vibrate, banging against the rest of the house or against one another. Because you have water pipes running throughout your home, the sound can come from anywhere. Fortunately, you may be able to “reset” the line and eliminate the noise by turning off the water at the main and draining the pipes.
Gurgling and Bubbling. If it's “double, double, toil and trouble,” when you hear the sound of water bubbling or gurgling, it may mean that you’ve got too much sediment built up in the bottom of your water heater. Sediment naturally accumulates over time, and you can help prevent too much buildup by flushing out your water tank every few months. By the time you hear the noise, though, it’s probably too late for that, and it’s time to call in a plumber or an Olathe heating and cooling service professional.
If you’re hearing any of these noises in your home, you could call a paranormal investigator to search for evidence of ghostly activity, but it’s probably not the best use of your time. In fact, two of the nation’s most famous ghost hunters, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), worked as plumbers for Roto-Rooter while moonlighting as paranormal investigators and often used their knowledge of plumbing, heating, cooling, and ventilation to explain strange noises and suspected hauntings in many of the homes they visited.
Before you call the Ghostbusters, why not call Davenport Service Company in Olathe? We’re happy to help sort out the source of any strange noises that might be emanating from your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and we even offer a VIP Program that keeps everything in tip-top shape all year round, so many of these noisy “phantoms” never make an appearance in the first place. Just give us a call at 913-441-2222 to sign up for our VIP Program or ask us to identify the weird noise that’s coming from your basement or attic.