As the nights draw in and the Halloween pumpkins start to rot, spooked out Brits admit their own home gives them the creeps, with cold spots, unexplained sounds and weird odours making them feel unsettled.
According to a nationally representative study* of 2,000 UK adults conducted by property maintenance experts Aspect, 64% of UK residents say they feel ‘unsettled’ in their homes, blaming strange knocking and tapping sounds, cold spots, unexplained draughts and even rooms with a ‘spooky’ aura. Unpredictable electrics and unusual smells were also a cause for concern for the UK’s spooked-out residents.
One in five (19%) of respondents says 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. 14% say they are unsettled by tapping, banging and dripping sounds, one in ten say unpredictable electrics put them on edge and that unusual smells are giving them the creeps, while some people even confessed that parts of their home had a “weird aura”.
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.
Leeds has the creepiest homes in the UK, with 75% of residents in the Yorkshire city saying their home had them feeling on edge. This was followed closely by Belfast (73%), Glasgow (72%), Cardiff (71%) and Coventry (70%).
The research found that different parts of the home had different issues for their residents. Lofts were the area most likely to give off a strange aura, bathrooms were the most common site of unexplained smells and cold spots, bedrooms were most commonly associated with knocking and tapping sounds and kitchens most commonly associated with unpredictable electrics.
Although things may not be as bad as they seem for the UK’s unsettled homeowners and tenants. Property maintenance expert Nick Bizley, director of operations at Aspect, says even the most unsettling problem normally has a relatively simple explanation.
Nick says “It’s certainly that time of year when our homes start to cause us problems. For example, electrics like lighting and electric heating are being used more and people are starting to use their central heating after several months of no use, so there’s more demand on the home’s appliances and systems.
“Plus, the nights are drawing in and the weather’s getting colder. 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 (a dark sludge) 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.”