Do you suspect your old house is haunted?
There are many reasons why the vast majority of haunted houses are old. At the top of the list is that an ancient house has had a longer time for murders, accidents and other unusual deaths to occur there and trap spirits in it to exact revenge on future residents. A General Building Contractor who also has ties to the paranormal news world recently gave another reason for old houses to be haunted – they have a “haunted personality” which causes many of the better known indicators that a house is haunted. While some of these traits are obvious, he has a few that could explain a few of the really scary old buildings out there or in your own neighborhood. If you think your house is haunted, should you call a ghost hunter or a general contractor? Let’s find out.
“I’ve run into a quite a few stories of people claiming that something paranormal was happening in their home that were head scratchers for me. “No,” I’d think to myself, “I’ve run into that kind of problem before and I know what causes it and how to fix it.””
Craig Weiler has an unusual dual career – he is licensed California General Building Contractor and the science editor for Paranormal Daily News. It is easy to figure out which job puts food on Craig’s table, but he manages to combine them to generate some interesting paranormal food for thought – in this case about haunted houses. As someone who has “done a lot of handyman type work over the years,” he’s obviously run into his fair share of old houses – even in California! So it is no surprise when Weiler walks into a house and hears unusual sounds or feels a cold spot in a dark corner, both sides of his brain kick into action and argue over what the cause might be.
If you think your house feels and sounds haunted, there are companies who will come in and give it a good inspection before you call a paranormal investigator – identifying and fixing things that may be causing anomalies. There are also video games based on this activity to help you decide. Craig seems to be appealing to the do-it-yourself haunted house fixers with his tips and advice. His unique background qualifies him to develop a kind of haunted house psychological examination to figure out its “personality."
“Houses are systems and they have their own personalities. They have water, electrical, sewer, heating and often gas and air conditioning. They have a variety of passive mechanical systems, such as door knobs and locks, hinges and drawers, electronic and electromechanical systems, such as ovens, dishwashers, garbage disposals, washers, dryers etc.”
What gives an old home personality in Craig’s definition is that all of these components are probably of different ages and in various stages of deterioration or newness. Old and new components don’t necessarily play nice together – there is a reason why you don’t put new windows in old frames. However, some people do – and that and other disparities like that contribute to a house’s personality.
“While it is possible for the house wiring to be the problem, it’s far more likely to be coming from a switch, the light or the light fixture.”
Craig says that lights flickering or turning on and off without anyone using the switch are a good example of this disparity. An old switch, an new switch not properly installed, the wrong wattage of bulb, an old lamp whose wiring may be loose – all can cause ghostly lighting issues. Those are probably the easiest to identify and fix.
“Any light with electronics (usually LED) is vulnerable to weird failures. Speaking of LED’s, they draw very little power, so it’s possible for them to be on when there is effectively no power in the house. They’re running off a trickle of electricity that’s still running through the line.”
Even the latest technology can cause paranormal-like problems. He notes that some recessed lights have thermal sensors that shut the light off if the internal temperature is too high – hot days or attic insulation can cause these to act ghostly.
Moving on to ghostly sounds … Craig divides them into knocks, creaks, groans and scratches. Knocks could be nails popping inside walls and floors when a board warps due to age or weather. Or they could be an old water pipe having trouble dealing with pressure (a common problem with humans too!). Squeaks are boards rubbing against each other because they are warped – see ‘nail popping’. Groans are a bigger issue – they could be the entire foundation of an old house moving due to soil erosion or wet or dry weather causing shifting. Scratching is – you guessed it – rodents in the attic and walls.
Weather is also blamed for cold air and unusual smells. Wind can blow through cracks in old window frames, air ducts, chimneys – you name it, it leaks and makes spots cold and clammy. Stange smells can come from leaking attics, basements or crawl spaces sending smells where there don’t belong. And those odd smells are confusing – if it kind of smells a little like smoke, the mind associates it with a late grandfather’s cigars. And those mysterious door closings and openings are both weather (drafts blowing) and weather again (door frames warping).
A new possible cause of apparitions proposed by Craig is carbon monoxide. While a bad leak can kill, small leaks in stoves, gas furnaces, water heaters and gas pipes can make one sick and cause hallucinations. A carbon monoxide detector is a life saver and a mind saver in this case.
Or is it ghosts?
Craig’s paranormal side points out that a home with an unstable personality provides plenty of opportunities for entities empowered with telekinesis (yes, we know it is hypothetical) to influence electricity and electrical faults or failings in an old house. The same is for loose physical connections that are easier to move than tight new ones. As he concludes, when trying to diagnose what is causing old house anomalies, “Context is important.”
Thanks again to Craig Weiler for his interesting perspective on old haunted houses. Remember, if you’re trying to discern if someone is a good candidate for a date or a mate or a divorce, you check their personality for the usual quirks and the unusual ones. Keep that in mind when trying to decide to buy, sell or stick with an old house with an unusual personality.