Plumbing and maintenance problems may be causing ‘spooky house syndrome’

Plumbing and maintenance problems may be causing ‘spooky house syndrome’

A survey from property maintenance firm Aspect has found that 64 per cent of people feel unsettled in their homes, in what has been dubbed ‘spooky house syndrome’.

And fixing these issues could be a source of work for the trades, as plumbing and maintenance issues may be to blame for some of the problems.

The most common problems were cold spots, strange noises and unexplained odours, with knocking, tapping sounds and draughts also being mentioned.

Problem homes

One in five (19 per cent) of respondents said their home has unexplained ‘cold spots’, where a room or area of a room was noticeably and inexplicably colder than the rest of the home. Fourteen per cent said they are unsettled by tapping, banging and dripping sounds, with one in ten stating that unpredictable electrics put them on edge.

While attics and basements might seem the most likely places for unsettling vibes, it’s actually the UK’s bathrooms that are giving most people the creeps. The UK’s spare bedrooms, kitchens, hallways and master bedrooms are the next most common sources of unsettling household problems.

Property maintenance expert Nick Bizley, director of operations at Aspect, said even the most unsettling problem normally has a relatively simple explanation. “It’s certainly that time of year when our homes start to cause us problems. This can highlight certain problems around the home, especially as households start using their heating more frequently. And when you add the unsettling tapping, knocking and creaking sounds, cold spots and strange smells, it’s no wonder a lot of people are complaining of ‘spooky’ phenomena making them unsettled.

“However, most of the things that can make a home feel like this can be explained quite rationally and fixed if necessary. Knocking and banging from pipes, especially after taps have been shut off, is most likely due to high water pressure. It could also be due to the build-up of magnetite in a central heating system.

“And there are a number of explanations for rooms, or specific parts of rooms, that always seem chilly. Radiators that need bleeding, draughts and poor insulation can all cause this to happen. Strange smells are a little harder to diagnose, because the potential causes are so varied. A constant ‘musty’ smell could be the result of damp conditions and the growth of mould caused by poor ventilation. This is more likely if it’s a room that gets less use and receives less natural light and fresh air from outside, such as a spare room or the loft. If the smell is more distinct, for example an unpleasant rotting or ammonia smell, it could be a sign of pests, such as mice. Blocked drains can cause a very strong and unpleasant smell too.”

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