With Halloween just around the corner, October has turned into a full blown spooky season, with everyone primed to hear things going bump in the night.
When it comes to our homes, bumps, creaks, and other nocturnal noises can make your blood run cold, and not necessarily out of fear - but because they can be a sign of an issue in your home that needs immediate attention.
If you’re hearing strange sounds or have spotted something that looks concerning, it can be easy to lie awake and worry about it, but no home issue is worth losing sleep over, especially when experienced tradespeople are never far away.
We’ve broken down some of the most common things that might keep you up at night, and how you can go about sorting them.
If you’ve spotted a dark patch on a wall that feels cold or wet to the touch, it’s a fairly sure sign that you have a damp issue, and that’s enough to make anyone fret.
The first thing to do is try to establish what kind of damp you might be dealing with.
The most common source of damp in homes is simple condensation, when moisture from things like cooking, showering, or drying clothes on radiators stays inside the room instead of being properly ventilated. The problem is usually exacerbated during colder months, when we tend to keep windows closed to keep the heat in.
Fixing condensation is all about improving that ventilation, whether it’s opening windows, or upgrading your kitchen and bathroom extractors.
A more serious issue is penetrating damp, when water is coming into the house, through a faulty window or broken roof tile for example, or escaping from a leaky pipe. This is when you’re most likely to spot or feel a damp patch on a wall or ceiling, and you should try and identify the source as soon as possible.
The third candidate is rising damp, when water is soaking up from the ground into the brick, timber and plaster of your walls. In modern homes, a damp proof course protects against this, but they can fail, needing the help of a specialist damp proofer to fix.
Realising you have a crack running through your brickwork or across a wall can definitely lead to some sleepless nights, but try not to panic. Sometimes cracks can be inevitable and harmless - but sometimes, they might need some attention.
Cracks can occur for lots of different reasons. Subsidence can be caused by both very hot and very wet weather, while unruly tree roots and underground pipework can also play a part in disrupting your home’s foundations. If subsidence is an issue, you might see telltale cracks running in diagonal step patterns through the mortar of your brickwork, and if you do, you should consult a structural engineer right away.
Inside your home, you’ll more commonly find very fine hairline cracks running across the plasterboard, which are usually caused either just by the house “settling” over time, or in some cases if the plaster becomes blown and starts to separate from the support behind it.
In lots of cases, what’s key is monitoring the issue and making sure the cracks aren’t getting worse over time.
Sounds from radiators
Glugs, gurgles, gasps, pops, wheezes… your boiler and your radiators will naturally make noises from time to time, but if there’s a full-blown symphony of strange sounds emerging from your pipework, it’s a good sign that something might be the matter.
It could be that air is getting into the system somehow, or a slow leak has lowered the pressure, or there could be a build-up of debris in the pipes. Whatever it is, don’t let strange pops and squeaks keep you awake - speak to a plumber or gas engineer who can look at the system and check out any unusual symptoms.
It always pays off to have a regular, annual boiler inspection, which can help you keep one step ahead of unnerving noises, but if your pipes start piping up, have it checked out.
We all deserve to feel safe and sound in our homes, and if your home is your castle, it needs to be as secure as a castle too.
When it comes to security, there are lots of things you can do, from integrated alarm systems to wifi-enabled cameras, to security lights and motion sensors. But if you just want good quality basics to help you sleep soundly, then the locks on your doors and windows are the things to double check.
Older locks that are sticking or catching can often be oiled up with the help of a locksmith or handyman, but any locks that seem like they’ve seen better days should be replaced with high quality modern locks that meet current standards.
If you’re the kind of person who worries about what the neighbours think, then a cracked and weed-filled driveway might have you staring at the ceiling into the small hours. But making your driveway more presentable and boosting your reputation in the neighbourhood is eminently achievable, with the help of a driveway specialist.
Brick, slabs, cobbles, concrete, tarmac, resin - there are lots of options depending on your style and budget, all of which can banish the weeds and leave you with a driveway that will be the envy of your street and help you sleep easy again.
It’s not a pressing issue like damp or cracks in your walls, but let’s face it - a dingy room with outdated decor can be enough to upset anyone with a sense of style.
If you have garish wallpaper that gives you a headache or drab paint that just makes you feel sad, make a move to change it up. A decorator can transform a room and leave it with a perfect finish that DIY is hard to match, so don’t lose any sleep over your decor when you can transform your home instead.