“Is my house haunted?” If you ever asked this question, the first thing to know is that you’re not alone.
Although frequently unwilling to admit it publicly, many people privately acknowledge a belief in the afterlife, ghosts and haunted houses.
According to this Huffpost poll, about 45% of those polled say they believe in ghosts and spirits. That means roughly 147 million people in the United States believe you just might be right.
Think your house is haunted? Here’s what to do.
Things to Rule Out
The first step to assessing your home for paranormal activity is to eliminate more mundane explanations.
Begin by identifying and listing what makes you think your home is haunted.
Do you hear unexplained noises? Smell strange scents? Sense cold spots in areas that should be warm? Suffer from unexplained electrical problems?
Or do you simply feel a sense of overwhelming dread, fear or anxiety?
Once you identify the symptoms of paranormal activity, take some time to eliminate the following explanations.
Have you checked for carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that sometimes builds up in homes. It is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Many people experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and misdiagnose the problem as paranormal activity.
These symptoms sometimes include hallucinations, a feeling of dread and shortness of breath.
It is deadly, brain-damaging and a very serious problem.
Eliminate this factor right away. Mistaking carbon monoxide poisoning for paranormal activity is a potentially fatal error.
Are you or the victims suffering from mental illness?
Now, don’t get mad at me here.
I’m not saying you’re “crazy.” I don’t like that word and I wish we’d all eliminate it from our vocabularies.
But mental illness can cause hallucinations, paranoia and delusional thinking.
There is no shame in suffering from mental illness. It’s not your fault and it’s very important to get treated professionally.
It’s also important to note that just because someone is mentally ill does not mean they are not experiencing paranormal activity. In fact, some paranormal investigators theorize that people with mental illness are more sensitive to paranormal activity.
Just make sure to check this off your list by soliciting objective advice.
Drafts, drips and doorknobs.
If you’re dealing with unexplained sounds or sensations, make sure they really are unexplained.
Many people leap to the conclusion that old houses are automatically haunted.
But while old houses inherently store personal energies and history, they also make a lot of noise.
Old wood floorboards settling under heavy furniture sound a lot like footsteps in the attic.
Drafty walls sometimes create “cold spots” where one expects to feel warm.
A doorknob that fails to latch properly sometimes appears to swing open in the presence of said drafts.
There is even a somewhat amusing problem called phantom toilet flushing. It’s caused by a slow leak from the toilet tank to the bowl, and any competent plumber can fix it.
Trace unexplained movement and sound to seek out possibly mundane explanations until you exhaust every reasonable possibility.
Are malfunctioning electronics just . . . well, malfunctioning?
People often report strange electronic behavior as a common sign of haunting.
But also . . . electronics malfunction. A lot.
Google the make/model of your malfunctioning electronic + troubleshooting.
If it malfunctions in a way that others commonly experience, you probably just have a poor quality or older gadget.
However, take serious note of gadgets that malfunction in weird or unpredictable ways (a clock radio that goes off even without batteries or when it is not plugged into the wall, for example).
Has your neurotic dog been to a vet?
Please never assume a distressed animal is responding to paranormal activity.
If your dog/cat/pet ferret is behaving strangely, it is far more likely to be responding to a mundane problem than a paranormal one.
Take chronically upset dogs to the vet and get a thorough work up.
Strange animal behavior should only be considered corroborative, and never the primary “evidence” of a haunting.
Is it just you?
Again, not saying you can’t be targeted alone by paranormal activity.
However, when more than one person in the same household independently comes to the same conclusion, at the very least, know you’re not imagining things.
Whenever someone experiences something with paranormal origins, make a note of when, what, where and how it happened.
Has your haunted house “converted” anyone?
When a staunch non-believer in paranormal activity suddenly and dramatically changes their position on the subject due to experiences they had in your home, take note.
Particularly guests or roommates who had no previous knowledge that you suspected paranormal activity.
Same as above, ask these folks to put their experiences in writing or otherwise document them for future reference.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. I’m telling you, I’m haunted. What should I do?!”
So let’s say you vehemently believe your house contains some kind of paranormal entity. What should you do?
Well, first of all . . .
Is it really bothering you?
Not all spirits are nefarious.
Some are downright sprightly.
If the ghost in question seems friendly or otherwise not disturbing your household, then lucky you! Enjoy this strange little blessing for as long as it lasts.
But let’s say your invisible roommate annoys, scares or otherwise disrupts your home. Then what?
Surround Yourself with Believers and Skeptics
Everyone dealing with an alleged haunting should have at least 2 people to call.
- A believer. Someone who believes in the paranormal and will listen to you when you have unpleasant or scary experiences. This will keep you sane.
- A skeptic. Someone who doesn’t believe in any of this woo-woo crap and will talk you down if you start to go off the deep end. This will also keep you sane.
The worst thing you can do is only talk about it with believers, or only talk about it with skeptics.
Maintaining a balanced worldview is crucial to a positive outcome.
Try a cleansing.
Negative entities are kind of like a cockroach infestation.
The longer they persist, the bigger and scarier they get.
But if you catch it early, you may just chase it out with a simple energy clearing.
Throw a big party.
I know, this sounds random.
But a lot of times, stale energy attracts negative entities.
Loneliness, in particular, acts like a raft that keeps angry or tormented spirits afloat.
Shake them loose by throwing a large party. Encourage your guests to scatter throughout the home.
Sing, dance, laugh, play loud music.
If it’s warm, open the windows.
Repeat once a month for several months.
Get help from an expert.
Paranormal groups around the country conduct investigations of haunted houses.
Most of these groups work charitably and charge little-to-nothing to come out and take a look.
Not sure where to find one? Check out this list of paranormal groups to locate a group in your area.
Or, if you feel comfortable talking to your clergy about the situation, your tradition may already have steps in place to deal with negative hauntings.
Remember that the odds are against it.
Before you make yourself batty analyzing every creak and draft in your home, remember that 99% of the time, there’s a boring answer.
You may even be a little disappointed to realize that your “ghost” is just a loose bolt in the air-conditioning vent.
But 9/10 times, it’s something like that.
For what it’s worth, I’ve spent the night in dozens of old houses with paranormal reputations, both as an investigator, and as a blogger. And maybe they were haunted. Certainly, the people who lived and worked in them believed they were.
But out of all those experiences, I only witnessed one incident that mystified me completely.
Chances are, you’re neither “crazy” nor “haunted.”
You probably just need a better plumber.