How to tell if your house is haunted, and what gear you'll need

Worried your house might be haunted? Not sure how to tell?

If movies have taught me anything, just wait a while and, believe me, you'll know. Especially when the walls start dripping blood and your roommate starts speaking in tongues. (Then, you know who to call.)

Joking aside, how can you tell if your house truly is haunted as some believe they can be, or if it just has an annoying tendency to creak like someone's coming up the stairs? Yesterday we told you how to haunt your house. Today, we offer a crash course in de-hauntifying it.


Types of Haunting

A haunted house is, by definition, a house (or any building, really) where it is believed that a spirit (or multiple spirits) of someone deceased can be found. (Random note: a seller is legally required in most states to inform buyers that a building is considered haunted.)

Ghosts can be tied to locations, objects, or even people, usually, but not always, that were important to them in their lives. There are three main types of haunting:

1. Residual Haunting

A residual haunting is just an echo. The ghost will do the same thing over and over, usually on a semi-regular basis. You cannot interact with a residual haunting; it is not truly a spirit, but more of an imprint that a person left on the world when they crossed over. (There have even been cases of people leaving imprints while they're still alive. Neat trick.)

Residual hauntings can be visual, auditory, olfactory, or some combination of senses.

Residual haunting won't do anything active to hurt or scare you; they don't even know you're there.

2. Intelligent Haunting

Here's where things get a bit more interesting. An intelligent haunting is a conscious spirit that can interact with the world around itself — including you. These are the spirits that, in theory, have some unfinished business.

Intelligent hauntings run the gambit from barely noticeable to full-out malice. An easy way to tell if you've got an intelligent haunting as opposed to a residual one is to note patterns. Intelligent hauntings don't have a set schedule. If they don't like where you put something, they'll move it. If they don't like you, well, they'll let you know.

Intelligent hauntings can manifest in all of the ways a residual one can, with the added factor of touch. They can touch objects, and they can touch people.

It's completely dependent on the spirit as to whether they are malicious or not; there have been stories of family members staying behind to keep watch over the living, but there are also angry spirits who have trapped themselves for whatever reason.

3. Demonic Haunting

We're getting onto controversial ground now, but we're already a bit on the edge, so let's continue on. The third and final type of haunting is demonic. In these cases, a location is not inhabited by anything that was once human, but an actual demon from the depths of Hell and so forth.

Demonic hauntings are the ones where blood runs down the walls. They're notoriously hard to be rid of, as a demon often latches on to one or more people instead of a building, meaning that if a family moves, the demon will follow them to their new location.

Demonic hauntings are especially devious as they often masquerade as a more innocuous haunting — intelligent, or even residual — before showing their hand.

[Pictured: Slimer from Ghostbusters, who falls under that third type of haunting.]


Haunted? Here's What to Do

First of all, do all you can to make sure it's an actual haunting and not your downstairs neighbors' voices drifting through the vents. Buildings make weird noises, and some people are sensitive to magnetic or electric fields.

If you're relatively sure you're dealing with the paranormal, call a professional. There are paranormal investigation teams just about everywhere these days. They can help you determine, if you do have a haunting, what kind it is and the steps forward. Much of the time, blessing the building or even asking the ghosts to leave can free you of your spooky friends. Sometimes, more desperate measures are necessary. A paranormal investigation team will direct you to the proper authorities depending on your situation.

(Just a note: if you decide to take things into your own hands, avoid using a Ouija board at all costs. In most cases, it's a fun toy and you can get a bit of a thrill, but there's always the possibility of inviting something worse into your life.)

[Pictured: Someone getting their haunt on, as seen on Paranormal Witness.]


Tools for Ghost-Hunting

One of the going theories on ghosts says they need to draw energy in order to manifest, whether it's as a full apparition, as a disembodied voice, or as a whiff of perfume. Based on this, paranormal investigators use a variety of tech gadgets to try and detect those that are no longer among the living.

If you'd like to see if you can find some ghosts on your own, here are some tools you might consider.

1. Tape Recorder: A voice that is recorded that was not present at the time of taping is called an Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). A common practice in paranormal investigation is to take a tape recorder into a supposedly haunted location, ask any assembled spirits some questions, and see if, when the tape is played back, any ghostly answers have appeared.

2. Camera: Occasionally something will show up in a photo that was not visible when the picture was taken.

3. Video Camera: Same thing here — sometimes something will show up that was not noticed at the time. An alternative is to leave the camera watching a particular area to see if something happens while no one's there to witness it. This technique is often used in areas where things tend to move by themselves.

4. EMF Detector: Don't be fooled by the fancy acronym. EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, and going back to the idea that ghosts draw energy, is used to find anomalous EMFs that might signal the manifestation of a spirit. (Just make sure you aren't near any appliances or anything else with a cord; they also put off fields.)

Thermometer: A drop in temperature is often reported before a manifestation. Ghosts can draw energy from anywhere, and heat is energy. Thermometers are used to locate areas that are inexplicably cold.

These are the easiest tools to find, but if you want to ramp up your game, there are thermal imagers (for finding unidentified heat sources), ghost boxes (a radio that conducts random band sweeping — spirits can, in theory, use the white noise to communicate through EVPs), and some people even believe that ghosts can use the television (set to static) or even phones to communicate.

Above all, don't do anything stupid. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it always pays to play things safe. You don't want your fun dinner party to turn into a night being chased by some huge, horned demon-dog, now do you?

[Pictured above: A piece of gear from the Ghost Hunter's Gear Guide.]

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