Things That Go Bump in the Night

Friday the 13th passed last week, and Halloween looms on the spooky horizon. Surely scary movies, haunted hayrides and frightening stories are on your mind. We even discussed frightful houseguests in a recent blog that may have sent chills up the homeowner’s spine. Now, you lay awake at night, wondering whether each squeak or creak marks the approach of a visitor from other realms…

What’s that noise?

  • Hissing. Could it be a giant snake, alien creature, a ghostly warning? Probably not. If the hissing is coming from the toilet, it could be a leaky flapper. To test this, let the tank fill, add a few drops of food coloring, and wait. If color seeps into the bowl, replace the flapper. However, if you have gas heat or appliances and a hissing sound is coming from them, the meter or along the line, it could be a very serious situation (there should also be a smell). Evacuate and call the gas company.
  • Bumps and pops. It sounds like there’s someone in the attic, or maybe in the basement, or the hall. Before panic sets in, remember that all the elements in a house expand and contract at different rates. Sometimes, they hit together and make noise. This is even more common in the fall, when the days are often warm and the nights turn quite chilly. These noises are harmless, so don’t worry.
  • Moans and clatters. Most often noticed during windy or stormy days, the vents that allow air to exit from dryers, bathrooms, and other appliances can make some pretty interesting noises. The dampers can clatter if loose, or if missing, can even lead to whistling, moaning noises as air enters the house. A new damper is an easy fix. Wind whistling through small openings could also be the culprit. Weather stripping and caulk will not only fix this, but will also save energy costs in the long run.
  • Footsteps and scratching. The sound of furry or feathery little footsteps in the unfinished attic can be a frightful sound. Scratching behind the walls may also induce goose bumps. The likely culprit? Critters of some kind. Don’t delay in setting traps or getting professional help, before your houseguests cause damage.

In general, if a sound occurs often, especially at the same time each day, it is likely that it is normal and harmless. Unusual, sudden noises or those that begin after an event such as a severe storm should be investigated as soon as possible. If the home is new to you, and you haven’t learned all its sounds, it is a good idea to check around for repair needs. 

Remain calm, homeowner. October will soon pass, and though your home will likely still make noises, they probably won’t seem so frightening.


Sources: Zillow, Houselogic, Realtor