Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?
Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?
Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost?

If the answer is "yes," then your house may well be haunted but how do you confirm that this is a genuine haunting and that it's not just your imagination or someone playing a prank on you?

Below are seven steps you can take to confirm the existence of genuine paranormal activity in your house.

1. Determine Whether Your House Is Likely To Be Haunted

Ghosts

If you suspect your house might be haunted, then the first thing to do is establish how likely this actually might be.

According to records of the most haunted locations worldwide, castles make up the biggest number of hauntings by property type. Given that there is a much smaller number of castles than residential houses, it means that statistically a castle is very likely to be haunted.

So, should you find yourself living in a castle, it's very likely your home may be haunted but the list of most haunted properties is also dominated by the likes of hospitals, hotels, pubs, cemeteries and prisons.

However the second highest number of hauntings are reported in houses. Of the ten most haunted houses in the world, six were built before 1900, the average age of the world's most haunted houses is 200 years.

So it's clear that the older a property, the more likely it is to be haunted, this seems logical as there needs to be some history at the property in order for spirits to return to the house after death.

If you live in a newly built house, then it's unlikely your property is haunted, however a new home which has a recent tragic or harrowing past could still have its share of spooks.

2. Establish The Type Of Haunting

Types Of Hauntings

If you've been experiencing strange goings on in your house then the first thing to do is work out whether they fall within the normal types of activities associated with a haunting.

1. A general feeling of unease. This can present itself in many different ways, you may feel like you are being watched or pick up on a negative vibe or atmosphere. You may feel emotionally drained or upset while in a certain room or part of the house.

2. Strange noises. Spend some time at home alone, keep distractions like the television and music to a minimum and pay attention to the sounds around you. Common sounds in haunted locations include knocking, banging, footsteps, slamming, scratching or the sound of objects being dropped or moved.

3. Sound of voices. Disembodied voices are often associated with a haunting, this could be in the form of crying, sobbing, whispering, laughing, mumbling, talking or screaming. Again it is important to listen out for these voices while the house is empty so you can eliminate your family or coinhabitants from your investigation.

4. Strange smells or odours. Often victims of haunted houses report unusual smells, this can sometimes be unpleasant stenches or odours but are more often the scent of perfumes, flowers or food which are presumably linked to the spirit which is haunting the property.

5. Temperature fluctuations. It's believed that unexplained cold spots are a sign a spirit being present, it may even be close to manifesting a physical form. You should be aware of not only cold spots in your house but unexplained hot or warm areas as this too might indicate supernatural energy.

6. Moving objects. Be aware of the whereabouts of your possessions, often during a haunting objects will move of their own accord, usually unseen to the inhabitants of the house. This can include jewellery or personal belongings, everyday items like dinner plates or mugs or in extreme cases a piece of furniture sliding across the floor. This type of paranormal activity may also show itself though doors opening, closing or slamming on their own, or electrical sockets or lights turning themselves on or off. Objects or belonging may also disappear completely only to reappear days, weeks or months later either in the exact same spot it vanished from or in an unusual location.

7. Physical contact. You may experience the sensation of being touched or brushed against, this could also include the feeling of someone's breath on your skin or hair. In rare occasions, reports of physical contact are much more extreme and have included claims of flicking, pinching, slapping, punching or pushing.

8. Manifestation. When a spirit or ghost manifests it becomes a physical being or entity. This is very rare but results in sightings of ghostly figures, unexplained shadows or moving shapes in the corner of the eye. Usually these shapes or shadows take human or human-like form.

If you've experienced something which falls into one of these categories then your home may be haunted and you should move on to the next step to validate these claims.

3. Rule Out Rational Explanations

Pipes

In order to prove your house is haunted, you'll need to adopt the mindset of a skeptic and do everything you can to try to prove that your house is not haunted.

Looking back at the activity you experienced in the second step, aim to find any possible explanation that doesn't rely on the paranormal.

For example, if a room feels uneasy, can you change the mood in the room by opening the curtains, improving the lighting or making it warmer?

Can strange sounds or voices be the result of central heating, plumbing or other home appliances? Trying switching off the heating, or turning off the water or power to the property, do the noises continue?

Could strange smells be the result of cleaning chemicals, scents drifting in through an open window, problems with the drains, an overflowing bin or pets? Try to eliminate as many of these possibilities as you can.

A cold spot could be the result of a draft or breeze, try to replicate the cold spot at a different time of day when the outside temperature might be different. Is it possible there is a draft? Check the near by doors and windows.

If an object has moved or disappeared, is it possible someone else in the house did it? Ask your housemates or family if they know anything about it to rule them out of your investigation. Is it possible a pet was in the room and accidentally moved the object? Try to rules this out in future by preventing the pet's access to certain parts of the house, does the problem persist?

Objects may also move as a result of a breeze or draft or simply having fallen off of a table or side board. Eliminate the possibility of drafts, check items are placed on stable surfaces and away from edges, do you still notice unexplained movements?

Is there any possible explanation for shadowy figures or movements in the corner of your eye? Common causes for this might be traffic passing outside your home, or insects or pets passing by light sources or windows. Eliminate these causes by closing curtains or blinds to stop outside influence and by being aware of the whereabouts of animals.

If you’re still able to replicate the paranormal phenomenon you experienced after ruling out these less supernatural causes, then move on to the next step.

4. Capture Proof Of The Haunting

Camera DSL ghost hunting

In order to take this any further you're going to need to be sure these occurrences are measurable by obtaining proof that they're real. There's a few ways you can do this but which ever technique you chose, it should be one which records the evidence for you to replay or review later.

1. Spirit photography. Since the advent of digital cameras, photography has become cheap and easy. It's believed that the camera can pick up more than the eye can see, light into the infrared spectrum can often be captured for example. It's for this reason that ghostly figures, streaks of light or strange fogs are often caught on camera. The best way to capture a ghost on camera is to take as many photos as you can in every room of your house. Be sure to take photos at all times of day and in different lighting conditions. Review the photographs after and look for anything unusual.

2. Log your investigation. You can use a video camera to keep a record of your findings. Simply set up your camera in a quiet room and then try to encourage the spirit to interact. You should ask the spirit to show that it is present by making a knocking sound, moving an object or by showing itself. You may not see anything during your investigation but when you play back the video you should be looking out for visual phenomenon such as flashes of light, movement or figures. When reviewing the footage, be sure to also pay close attention to the audio as well, listen out for knocks and bangs.

3. Trigger objects. If you're experiencing objects inexplicably moving in your home, then a good way to get proof of this is using a trigger object. Trigger objects are usually children's toys, balls, keys or something which belonged to the spirit that is haunting the property. The best way to use a trigger object is to place the object on a sheet of paper on a flat, stable surface and then draw around it with a marker pen. Leave the object for several hours, upon your return check that the object is still sat within the ink outline on the paper.

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5. Research The History Of Your House And Immediate Area

Old Houses

So now you know there are some genuine paranormal phenomenon going on at your house, the next thing you need to work out is why this is happening and for that you're going to need to do some research.

Most hauntings occur on the site of a historical tragedy, whether it be a murder, a suicide, an untimely death due to illness, or an accident such as a car crash, drowning or fatal fall. The tragedy may even pre-date the house, perhaps the property is built on a former battlefield or an ancient Indian burial ground.

By finding out who owned and lived in the house before you, you might be able to answer some of these questions.

This sort of information can usually be found at your local reference librarian, town hall or local historical society. You may be able to find out some of the history of your local area online or in local interest books.

If you can, contact the former residents of your home and people who have lived in the area for many years, ask them if they have witnessed or heard of anything strange or unusual taking place at the property.

You may even be able to establish a name and identity of the spirit who haunts your house. If you're able to find out these details then it will make it much easier to make contact with the spirit.

6. Attempt To Make Contact

Ouija Board

Now you know you definitely have a ghost in your house and hopefully your research has helped you to work out exactly who it is that is haunting you, the next step is to attempt to make contact and there are a couple of ways you can do this.

1. Ouija board. In ordered to contact a spirit using a ouija board you'll need some help from at least two friends, but don't worry, you don't need an expensive board to do this. You can make your own board by writing the letters A to Z on slips of paper and spreading them out on a table. Then place a glass in the middle of the table, all three of you should lightly place a finger on the glass. Next start to ask the ghost questions, if a spirit is present then it should start to slowly move the glass around the table, spelling out words. Make a note of your questions and the answers using a pen and paper.

2. Electronic voice phenomenon (EVP). For this approach you don't need friends or help, in fact this works best in a completely silent room. You're going to try to capture the voice of the spirit using a tape recorded or digital audio record. Simply start recording and begin to ask the spirit questions out loud, be sure to leave plenty of time after each question to allow the ghost time to answer. You may not hear anything at the time but when reviewing the audio the EVPs will be present, you'll be able to hear the spirit answering your question.

When attempting to make contact, either through ouija board or EVP, you should try to establish the answer to the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What is your name?
  • When did you die?
  • How did you die?
  • Why have you returned to this building?

7. Validate Contact With The Spirit

History Book

You should now have some information which you obtained through contact with the spirit who's haunting your house. You now need to validate this information to establish its authenticity.

If, during your contact with the spirit, you obtained information like names and dates then you should go back to the history books or online research (as in step five) and establish whether those names and dates match the recorded history of your house or the area where you live.

If you were able to collect information from the spirit which you could then verify against local records, then there is no doubt what so ever that your house is indeed haunted and that you have made direct contact with the deceased.

What To Do Next

As it seems your house is haunted, you now need to decide what to do next. If the spirit is just mischievous and playful then you may consider living with it, however if the spirit is malevolent then you might want to take some steps to safeguard your home and protect your family from the spirit.

Your next steps might be to exorcise your house, find a way to drive the spirit out of your home or use a technique to capture the ghost. You could also try contacting the ghost again to find out if there's anything you can do in the living world to enable that spirit to move on, such as complete some unfinished business or pass on a message to a living relative.

You can find advice on how to catch a ghost here.
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