Ghosts or guttering?


When Halloween comes around, we can all get a bit scared of things that go bump in the night - in fact, nearly a third of Brits say they think their home might be haunted.

But here at MyBuilder, we want to demystify your home, so we challenged our in-house expert Andy to diagnose a range of seven spooky sounds, and show you why you don't need an exorcist - you just need a great tradesperson.

Andy has years of experience on the tools and no time for tall tales about ghosts and ghouls.

However, plenty of homeowners do have worries about their homes, and find themselves tossing and turning during the witching hour thanks to all the bumps, creaks, squeaks and groans our homes can produce.

More than half of homeowners say they've heard strange noises in the night that they can't explain, but here at MyBuilder, we don't want anyone to be confused.

Our Know Your Home campaign is all about the vital knowledge that will put your mind at ease.


1. Whistling windows

A creepy, howling whistle is enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck - but as Andy is quick to point out, there’s no spectral presence causing the sinister noise, just the boring old wind, and a faulty window.

When the seal around a window fails, the gap can be enough for air to get in. When the wind picks up and is forced through the tiny hole, it’s enough to produce a horrible whistling sound that is bound to keep you awake on gusty nights.

Luckily, the fix is simple - a glazier or window fitter will be able to repair any sealant and fix the window.

If your whole window is old and damaged it may be worth replacing the entire unit, as good quality double glazing is vital for improving the insulation of your home, making it more energy efficient, and saving money on your bills.


2. Broken guttering

It’s an unusual, unearthly sound - one that even stumped experienced Andy.

But as with the window, the wind is the culprit again, blowing through a loose gutter and into a damaged downpipe, causing the strange vibration and bizarre noise.

Another simple fix can sort it out - a guttering specialist can inspect your gutters and downpipes to make sure all the brackets are tightly fixed to the walls and that none of the pipes have cracks or gaps that could cause a piece to be loose and vibrate.


3. Failing radiator valves

“Pipes” was the name of the spirit in the BBC’s infamously scary fake-documentary Ghostwatch, which made its presence felt by banging on pipes in a family home.

Thankfully, there’s no such thing as ghosts - but clanging pipes are sadly real and all too common.

Banging noises coming from your central heating system can indicate a host of problems, often a failing radiator valve that isn’t regulating the water flow properly.

Plumbers or heating engineers will be able to check your system, from the boiler to all your radiators, and ensure everything is working as it’s meant to.

You should have your boiler serviced once a year to make sure it’s in good working order and nip any potential problems in the bud.


4. Mice scratching in the walls

Plenty of people are afraid of mice and rats, and with good reason - these pests are unhygenic, as well as potentially casuing problems with wiring and other sensitive parts of your home.

If you hear scratching in the night that keeps you awake that might be mice, it's best to get a pest control expert to step in. They have a range of solutions for clearing out rodents, from traditional traps to more humane methods.

A tradesperson can help with how they're accessing your home - for example you may have gaps in your skirting boards where they're getting in, which a carpenter can sort out.


5. Creaking stairs

A creak on the stairs is a horror movie staple - causing the hero to hide under the bedsheets and hope the noise goes away.

Thankfully, creaks on the stairs aren’t really caused by ghosts. Most often there usually is someone walking on the stairs (someone sneaking home late?) but wood can make noises even when there’s no one around.

Like most materials, wood can expand and contract with changes in temperature and moisture, meaning it’s liable to squeak and creak on nights when the mercury plummets.

If you’re plagued by squeaky stairs, a carpenter can help out. Ideally they’ll be able to access the underside of the stairs to add more fastenings to the treads and rises that will secure everything in place.

If not, they can also take up the carpet and do similar treatments on the top of the stairs.


6. Gurgling plumbing

Burbling and gurgling noises can sound creepy, but when you think about how much water flows through our homes, it should quickly become clear where the problem really comes from.

Sinks, toilets, baths and other plumbing can all be the source of gurgling, especially if blockages in the pipes or traps cause water to drain unevenly.

However the problem can also be in the heating system - especially if the system has lost pressure due to a leak.

Without enough water to keep pressure, air can get into the system, causing gurgling and bubbling in the pipes, which a plumber or heating engineer can relieve.


7. Shed door slamming

Lying in the dark, it’s easy to imagine that every noise is something sinister, especially if it’s a sudden bang that seems to come out of nowhere.

However, if the noise is coming from outside, the culprit is more often that not the weather - and a fault in your home or garden.

You’d be surprised at how easy it is for the wind to wreak havoc with our gardens, even if everything seems superficially solid.

Shed doors and windows, fence panels, flat roof felting - our gardens and yards are full of things that the wind can mess with, and it doesn’t take much to turn a simple flaw into a terrifying source of sound.

Luckily, most of these things are easily fixed with a bit of TLC. An experienced handyman should be able to identify and fix any of these problems, and help you get a good night’s sleep again.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Andy at My builder. That was very good explanations for these strange noises. This will really help many people to resolve the problem👍😊

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