Haunted House Or Dead Rodents? 5 Tips From Consumer Reports

Do your appliances and lights randomly turn on and off? Are doors all over your home opening and closing by themselves? Do you hear ghostly footsteps in the attic? If so, your house may be haunted — or you could just have dead rodents, really bad appliances, and low relative humidity. Consumer Reports goes Ghostbusters to help you get Gozer out of your garage.

Consumer Reports’ Dan “Venkman” DiClerico strapped on his proton pack to hand out these tips on dealing with five of the top ghostly phenomena:

Cold Spots: While drafts could be the result of a restless apparition, they’re more likely caused by air leaks or inadequate insulation. Professional energy auditors often use infrared instruments to identify such cold spots, but Consumer Reports has found that a simple incense stick can do the trick. If smoke from the stick blows sideways when you hold it up to windows, doors and walls, air is seeping in and out from those locations.

Appliances Turning On and Off By Themselves: Here’s a case where the scientific explanation is scarier than the paranormal one. In the last year, Consumer Reports has noted many cases of appliances turning on by themselves, posing serious safety risks to homeowners. Just last week, Electrolux recalled 122,000 smoothtop ranges and cooktops after liquid pooling under the control knobs caused 70 units to turn on unexpectedly. Earlier, a Magic Chef range was reportedly being turned on and off by the wireless signal from a nearby cell phone. And we’ve heard cases of toaster ovens coming on without warning.

Things That Go Bump in the NIght: It could be a flying witch, but a flying squirrel is more likely. Besides making a racket in the attic, squirrels and other rodents can wreak havoc on insulation, driving up energy bills.

Doors and Cabinets Opening: There’s something in the air with this one–low relative humidity. Drier air causes wood to shrink, which in turn can make doors, drawers, and cabinets open on their own.

Mysterious Smells: The perfume of a former habitant who died on her wedding night? The muddy boots of a Civil War soldier who once quartered in the back room? Maybe. But before you call an exorcist, look for other sources of unexplained smells in your home. Wet fiberglass hidden behind walls can give off a musty odor. Dead rodents are also none too sweet-smelling.

More tips are available at the Consumer Reports site. And, remember, don’t cross the streams.

Is your house haunted–or is it just drafty? [Consumer Reports]