You hear a creak here. You see a flicker of light there.
Depending on where you fall on the I-believe-in-ghosts scale—from "That light just flashed! Greetings, afterlife residents" to "Yea, sure, get an electrician"—you may take the mysterious little happenings around your home to be indicative of a haunting or the presence of a passed loved one.
Even if you aren't a believer, let's be honest: We all have wondered about the possibility.
If you're truly curious, spirit medium Maureen Hancock says there are a few signs that may give away the presence of spirits. Hancock has spent the last twelve years helping people connect with the dead as a teacher, lecturer and author of the bestselling book, "The Medium Next Door: Adventures of a Real-Life Ghost Whisperer."
Read on for what she says are the subtle signs you're not alone.
You Spot an Infinity Number
According to Hancock, this is often the case when a passed loved one is trying to assure you they're present. "Your loved ones will let you know they're around in a few different ways, using things like 11:11 on the clock," says Hancock. "That means infinity. It's never-ending. It's them trying to tell you, 'I'm right here.'"
You Smell a Scent That Doesn't Belong
Perhaps it's cigarette smoke, even if you've never smoked in your life. Or perhaps it's a dish your grandmother used to cook, suddenly present in your kitchen.
"It can be any type of scent, but it will bring you back to a memory of a passed loved one," says Hancock. "A big one for people is the smell of Old Spice, where you'll think of your Dad."
Again, this is often the case with a loved one who is trying to comfort you with their presence, she says.
You Can't Explain Faulty Plumbing or Electrical Problems
Of course, some spirits can be a tad more mischievous than your passed loved ones, says Hancock.
"A loved one's spirit will never do things in the home to scare you, but they'll make their presence known in a loving, gentle way," says Hancock. "A mischievous spirit, however, might do things that make you afraid. Sometimes a mischievous spirit will turn the water on and off or you'll hear doors slamming."
These are spirits that have a connection to the home you live in—to them, you don't belong there.
"There are some homes, especially older homes, that sometimes have residual energy from the original owners, perhaps someone who built the home," says Hancock. "They might stick around for a while and let their presence be known. Perhaps there's an old man and you keep seeing his shadow or his face in the window."
(Uhm, side note: If we saw an ghostly old man's face casually in the window, we would freak.)
Hancock says she notices an increase in haunting incidences when new owners do work on the house.
"I have people who contact me from all over the world who say, 'We're doing some renovations, and now doors are slamming and my husband's being woken up at night," says Hancock.
Spirits also tend to like lights, she says. (Hence the mysterious flickering light in every single scary movie.)
"A lot of times they'll choose the same light," says Hancock. "Even when you change the lightbulb or have an electrician come in to check on the wiring, it'll still be affected. People will often go to any degree just to make sure it wasn't just a coincidence."
You Wake Up at Witching Hour
If you wake up at 3 am every night, you may need to lay off the caffeine in the evening. Or, of course, spirits in your house may be nudging you awake.
"The veil between here and the spiritual world is thinnest between 3 and 5 a.m., but most often we are woken up between 3:15 am and 3:30 am," says Hancock. "Because the veil is so thin, spirits can wake you up or nudge you, or even come to you in a dream."
Your House Has Unexplained Temperature Changes
And we're not talking about your always-cold guest bedroom.
"If all of sudden, chills go up and down your neck, and the temperature seems to change, there may be a spiritual presence," says Hancock. "You'll literally get goose bumps, and you'll feel like somebody is behind you. This is also true if a room feels heavy and dense, or you feel anxious just by walking in."
Seeing shadows or flickers in the corner of your eyes is also a common sign of a spirit, says Hancock.
Sound Familiar? Here's What To Do
So, you have a haunted house. No need to list it. There are a few things Hancock suggests to rid your home of spirits you don't want there. Naturally, most people find comfort in sensing a passed loved one. But if the hauntings in your home are more devious, here are Hancock's suggestions:
1. Tell the spirit to leave. You need to show those sassy spirits who's boss. Hancock's suggestion: Communicate with the ghost.
"Say, 'Hey, we're in this home, we honor the work you did, and we're going to make some changes in a very respectful way,' and they'll feel validated," says Hancock. "People may laugh when you say that, but there are so many experiences where someone just says, 'I have to sleep, you need to leave,' and it stops."
So, pull up a chair. Get comfy. Chat with your ghost guest over coffee, and tell it to hit the road.
2. If you're religious, go ahead and have someone "bless" the home. Who does this for you obviously depends on your personal beliefs, but Hancock says a priest or someone else who is a spiritualist can get the job done.
"I always tell people to also hang crosses and sprinkle holy water, because I'm a Catholic medium," says Hancock. "Not to get all 'Amityville Horror,' but I feel like when you bring in the light, you get rid of the dark. Spiritualists can also do other things like put salt in certain areas of the room and use crystals, or perform other ceremonies."
Thinking of this scene from "The Conjuring 2"?
If you're not into the idea of hanging crosses throughout your room, may we sheepishly suggest opening all your curtains? Because, let's face it—everything is way scarier in the dark.
3. Wave sage around like a spiritual goddess. That's right. These suggestions may seem like classic horror flick solutions, but according to Hancock, they can work.
"Get some sage and smudge your whole house with it," says Hancock. "Wave a sage wand around each room, which is called smudging. It's supposed to clear out any negative energies, or anyone who isn't welcome."