Halloween in Your Home - Scary Stuff You May Not Want to See

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Dead rat in the attic

In my last article, I wrote about how I've learned so much by visiting the parts of houses that most people don't like to go into themselves. In that article, my focus was on the problems with the attic kneewall. Today, with Halloween upon us, let me show you some of the scarier stuff I've found in the deep, dark recesses of the houses we live in. Take the dead rat to your left, for example. Animals, both living & dead, are among the scary discoveries awaiting the arrival of the intrepid home performance explorer.

So, how about snakes? Do you like yours venomous or non-venomous? The one below is a baby copperhead, hanging from a spider web.

halloween crawl space snake

Camel crickets love dark, damp places. That's why I've seen so many of them in crawl spaces.

crawl space camel cricket

Below is the entrance to a particularly scary crawl space I visited a few years ago. This is the one where I came face-to-fur with a possum! Fortunately it was already dead.

halloween crawl space scary home performance nightmare

Here is something you definitely don't want to find under your house: a corroded furnace flue pipe that allows combustion exhaust gases, possibly including carbon monoxide, to get into your home.

halloween furnace flue pipe corrosion

What have we here? Ah, yes, that common inhabitant of homes - mold. This outbreak resulted from a plumbing leak.

halloween mold subfloor crawl space plumbing leak

On the subject of 'microbial infestations,' the legally cautious term I learned from a speaker at the Affordable Comfort (ACI) conference a few years ago, they also grow on wood when the humidity levels in the air are high.

halloween microbial infestation mold floor joist crawl space

Although your home probably doesn't have sparks running up a Tesla coil, as in Frankenstein and other scary movies, it may well have some scary electrical problems of its own:

halloween electrical hazard receptacle

And below, those wires should be connected in junction boxes, not floating loose:

halloween electrical wiring hazard no junction box

Lest you think electrical problems are only for existing homes, here's a nice little wiring trick in the house that I built:

electrical junction box too many wires

(OK, this wasn't really scary if you knew that it was a joke. My friend and electrician, Zot, stuffed as many extra scraps of wire and empty romex sheathing into the junction box as would fit. The inspector really liked this at the rough-in inspection!)

Finally, there's nothing like an open sewer under the house to give it some realistic Halloween flair - and aroma! (Note the liquid level in that pipe and the toilet paper melting into the dirt.) This was the same home that had the dead rat in the attic.

halloween crawl space open sewer

Happy Halloween!


Peter Troast

Great post Allison. We knew our thermal envelope had issues when a Northern Flying Squirrel jumped on the bed one night. And, as I write this, I can hear gnawing and scratching in the walls, as mice sense the onslaught of winter. Fortunately, however, there are no copperheads here. I have no love of rodents, but snakes in dark places in homes is the real fright.

Allison Bailes

Thanks, Peter. I had a flying squirrel pop up out of insulation I was pushing down once, and it scared the heck out of me. It almost hit me in the face! Hope you can relocate those mice successfully. We saw the copperhead at a house during a HERS rater class. Good thing we didn't have the students crawling through that crawl space.

Peter Troast

Yes, I can assure you that all seven of that family of flying squirrels was humanely caught, named and photographed by my daughter and transported across several highways to a new home.

Sue Firpo

Awesome! The scariest part is that those made me laugh at first and then 
made me really scared...

Bob Pietrangelo

Great PIX Allison, Happy Halloween, it's a shame it comes more than once a year, or a blessing if we can fix it!!!

Allison Bailes

Thanks, Sue and Bob. It's not hard at all to get photos like this if you go into those seldom visited buffer spaces, especially the crawl space.

Hunter Dendy

I'm not sure what's scarier, a copperhead....or a spider that can catch one!

Allison Bailes

Good one, Hunter! I really don't know how that snake got strung up like that, but we saw it wiggling around, hanging from a spider web. If it was indeed a catch by the spider, it was a good one.


Wost I ever heard about was a dead squirrel, which had made itself a nest inside of ... another dead squirrel.


thats not scary what so ever!