Haunted House Fixes | HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical Explanations

Haunted House Fixes - HVAC Plumbing & Electrical Explanations for Supernatural PhenomenaHalloween is right around the corner and our senses are on the rise. Strange sights, sounds, smells, and sensations that we might normally ignore now seem to be symptoms of a haunted house. Cold spots? Flickering lights? Loud clangs and bangs? It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. To help soothe your nerves during this frightening time of year, here are some explanations for those supernatural phenomena you are experiencing. WARNING: The truth may be scarier than the fiction. We’ll break it down into three main categories: HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), Plumbing, and Electrical.


Cold Spots & Drafts

The ghosts in your house need energy to materialize so they suck up all the surrounding heat and create cold spots that alert you to their presence. Or… you could have an air leak. Almost every time a homeowner reports a cold spot, there is a significant air leak nearby. If you feel a draft or cold spot, don’t panic. Instead, try to find the air leak. It could be coming from doors, windows, fireplaces, vents, attic hatches, floorboards, or walls. Use a lit incense stick or thin piece of toilet paper to try to detect where the cold air is coming from. If you are near a door or window, check the caulking and weatherstripping around the perimeter. If the smoke/paper begins to move sporadically, you have an air leak nearby. Use weatherproof caulk and/or replace the weatherstripping on doors and windows that show signs of air leakage.

Check all the following areas of your home for air leaks:

home insulation diagram - air sealing winterization locationsSource: energy.gov Outdoors Indoors Learn more about detecting air leaks on energy.gov. Consider hiring a contractor to help assess your home’s insulation and energy efficiency levels.

Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Imagine living in a home where furniture seems to move on its own, beds shake, plants die, and long, terrible wails are heard down the corridor. You and your family feel lethargic and have severe headaches you cannot shake. The house seems to have a mind of its own. This may sound like the beginning of a ghost story, but it’s actually a true tale of a family who had been poisoned by carbon monoxide. The story was originally published in the American Journal of Opthalmalgy in 1921, but was reproduced for a special Halloween episode of This American Life, produced and hosted by Ira Glass. The strange series of events that is described in the episode ends with an investigation that found the furnace to be the culprit. The furnace wasn’t ventilating properly and was releasing harmful carbon monoxide gas into the home. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, the family went about their business as usual. The carbon monoxide detector wasn’t developed until 1925 by Chester Gordon and James Lowe. The only reason why the family got out alive was because a family member recognized the symptoms in another story of a family facing similar “hauntings” and suggested they see a professional. Once the furnace was fixed, the hauntings stopped, and so did their sickness. Known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide kills hundreds of people every year, even during a time when most homes have carbon monoxide detectors. Some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide include:

Carbon Monoxide Detector Safety:

As the temperatures continue to fall, we must pay close attention to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. It poisons thousands of people every year and kills hundreds. Make sure you take the necessary precautions:

Portable Generator Safety:

[/embed] Visit NFPA.com for more Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips. DANGER! CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) POISONING carbon monoxide (CO) fact sheet - cdcSource: cdc.gov


Without any obvious reason, lights are flickering, dimming, and turning themselves off unaided. The television screen keeps shrinking. Menacing shadows are created and you begin to think that this may not just be a simple electrical issue. What if it’s a poltergeist? To help dim your worries, let’s start with some of the most common causes and see if you can solve the problem yourself.

Dimming and Flickering Lights

If you have flickering and dimming lights, you may be able throw a great Halloween party, but it’s not something you want to ignore. While you may have a serious electrical problem, it’s important to check the basics first: Flickering and dimming lights are normally caused by a poor electrical connection. If you checked the light bulbs and reset the breaker, and the light still flickers or dims, you probably only have a problem with a single wire. If there are multiple lights that are flickering, there may be a problem further down the line. If none of the tips above stopped the flickering or dimming, call your local electrician to diagnose and fix the issue.

Lights Turning Off (or Not Turning On)

If lights suddenly turn off, it’s likely that a tripped breaker is involved. The main cause of tripped breakers is high electrical demand that is overloading the circuit. Sometimes, a breaker trips because of loose electrical connections. If you are frequently overloading your circuits, ask an electrician about adding a dedicated circuit for your largest energy consumers. Lights that turn off by themselves are bad enough, but what about lights that don’t turn on at all? If you are having problems with any of your outlets or switches, it’s likely that they were not installed properly, or the connections have come loose over time. Even if installed correctly, when switches and outlets age, they eventually burn out and require replacement. View our Electrical Safety Checklist for more electrical safety tips.


Rotten Eggs and Worse

Nobody likes the smell of rotten eggs, which is why natural gas and propane producers are required to add a chemical, called mercaptan, in order to give the gas a distinctive odor. Since the gas used to heat your home is naturally odorless, mercaptan is added. If you smell rotten eggs, you have been pranked or, more likely, you have a gas leak. Follow these dos and don’ts if you suspect a gas leak.



Since the smell of rotten eggs is often confused with other noxious odors, make sure that what you are smelling isn’t: All of these things cause more problems than just olfactory ones. If you smell the remnants of a critter, just google “dead animal removal.” A burning electrical outlet indicates a dangerous arcing situation. Turn off power and call an electrician right away. If you smell sewer gases emanating from your drains, you might have a dried out P-trap. In order to prevent this, make sure you periodically run the water in all of your drains. This will make sure there is enough water to form a "smell barrier." Odors can sometimes form in sink overflow holes, where gunk and slime can form. Try flushing it out with a mixture of vinegar and water. Click here for more tips on cleaning a stinky drain. Click here for tips on how to clean a stinky garbage disposal. On the other hand, you may have an improperly designed drain system or vent stack that is clogged somewhere. Call your local plumber to inspect the problem and fix your drain, vent, or septic tank system if necessary. For more tips on how to keep the evil spirits away this fall and winter, complete our Winterization Checklist.

Strange Sounds

It's hard to sleep through the night with loud banging, scratching, and creaking. If you are hearing strange noises in your home, grab a flashlight and work up the courage to find the source. Here are some Common Home Noises and How to Fix Them.
From everyone here at Hiller, Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!!

Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electrical provides residential and commercial service and repair throughout Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, and Northern Alabama. With our mantra, “Happy You’ll Be or the Service is Free!” we are dedicated to resolving any issue with our services within 48 hours, or your money back! You can also keep up with all of our news and updates by following us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramLinkedIn, and Pinterest. We are available 24/7 to help with any plumbingheating, or electrical problems you may have (holidays included).