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House Noises Can Be Normal, Abnormal or Even Paranormal. How To Tell the Difference

That creak you heard could be an intruder, or even a ghost. But it could be the foundation settling, too. House Noises Can Be Normal, Abnormal or Even Paranormal. How To Tell the Difference

All aging houses make noises. They’re like elderly relatives who can’t sit or stand without grunting, moaning or cracking. Some house noises are scary. Most noises are totally benign. Some noises signal the presence of intruders or ghosts.

The trick to owning a home is learning to recognize the unique sounds that it makes. That way, when some new weird noise starts up, you’ll know there is something amiss. That something could be a furnace about to explode, or it could be a bad guy sneaking up your cellar stairs.

If possible, conduct a sound survey when you are alone in the house. Do it at night when exterior sounds are at a minimum. And try not to fall asleep on the couch.


Here are some sounds you may hear in your home, their possible causes, and what to do for each.

Sound: Creaking

Potential Causes (From Most To Least Likely)

Settling Foundation: This is likely the culprit if you don’t have any cracks in the walls. It is a normal house sound.

Nearby Dead Tree: Call an arborist first thing and pray it doesn’t get too windy.

Intruder: Evacuate quickly and quietly and don’t forget your sneakers as sprinting may be involved.

Ghost: Ignore.

Sound: Persistent Dripping

Potential Causes

Rain: The sound of rain can be very annoying. Cognitive reprogramming can help. Pretend it’s a metronome sent to lull you to sleep. Or get some good earplugs.

Air Conditioning Condensation: Put a towel where the condensation lands. Don’t use a pail. That will make an even more annoying drum-like noise until it fills up with water.


Toilet: Jiggle the handle.

Burst or Broken Pipe: If, in addition to the dripping sound, your water pump keeps running, and you are not using any water, you have a burst pipe. Turn off the main water source and find the leak. You or your plumber may need to smash holes in the wall to locate it. The holes will be the least of your problems.

Sound: Metallic clunking, rattling or pinging

Potential Causes

Expanding Radiator Or Baseboard Pipes: When hot water runs through cool pipes, they expand with sounds that can wake the dead.

Broken Clothes Washer: Your brand new front loader is about to teach you that new doesn’t mean reliable. It will cost you the same to replace the stupid thing as to get it repaired. Don’t you miss your parents’ top loader?

Intruder: Follow evacuation protocol but with extreme urgency since this one sounds like he/she/they brought chains, and there’s no way that’s going to turn out well.

Ghost: Be ready for a strange night that will leave you regretful about your past choices but optimistic at getting a second chance to make it all better.

Sound: Loud vibration followed by a bang

Potential Causes

Furnace: It just exploded. If you have survived, evacuate at once and call 911.

Airplane Cowling Or Space Junk: Something extra-terrestrial just landed on or near your home. Call the FAA or NASA, as needed. Don’t touch anything that is glowing.

Sound: Moped engine sound in the kitchen

Potential Causes

Refrigerator Motor: You’re going to need a new refrigerator within the month.

Intruder: On a moped, in your kitchen. Probably just lost.

Sound: Persistent scratching

Potential Causes

Tree Branch On Window: Creepy, but not really dangerous. Like clowns.

Squirrels: These little suckers are impossible to get rid of. They’re probably in your attic but may also be in your walls. If you can afford to rebuild, light your house on fire.

Bats: You can get rid of these, but when they leave your attic, they’ll just move to the house next door. Have your exterminator come under cover of darkness so the neighbors won’t know that you were “house zero.”

Intruder: You got one of those dumb ones that tried to get in through the chimney. How you handle this is entirely your call, but wouldn’t a fire in the fireplace be nice right now?

Sound: Footsteps

Potential Causes

House Settling: Sometimes, when wooden homes settle they can sound exactly like creaky footsteps as the joists that support the house find new, more comfy positions—just like your knees.

Children: You didn’t even hear them come home!

Intruder: Come on! Seriously, this guy just doesn’t quit.

Ghost: Ask the ghost to deal with the intruder. If that apparition is going to be there for all eternity, it might as well make itself useful.

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Your Questions And Comments Are Greatly Appreciated.

Monty H. & Carolyn A.

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