In 1912, Mrs. H and her family moved into their new home. The large and gloomy house had stood empty for years. They would soon discover the spooky reasons why. One morning Mrs. H heard footsteps coming from a room upstairs. She rushed to investigate, but no one was there.
A couple of days after moving in, Mr. H began to feel down in the dumps. He had no idea why. He also complained of an unseen presence behind him in the dining room. The entire family soon began to suffer from headaches and fatigue. The children grew increasingly pale and frail.
Mrs. H and her children were so worn out with worry they left the house for a short vacation. Mr. H remained. When his family returned, they looked and felt a lot better. They were in high spirits. Poor Mr. H, on the other hand, had taken a turn for the worse. He said strange noises in the night prevented him from getting any sleep.
The unexplainable sounds and spooky presences continued. Then one day in January 1913, Mrs. H saw a strange woman dressed in black who suddenly disappeared. She believed it was a ghost.
Mrs. H’s son also complained that a “big fat man” woke him up. He said the ghost had sat on his chest and caused him breathing difficulties. Mr. H also claimed he was awakened by ghostly fingers trying to strangle him. During this period, all of the family’s houseplants also died.
The family was sure the house was haunted, but Mr. H contacted a doctor who investigated. He found that the cause of the family’s problems was an old furnace in the basement. It was leaking gas into the house. The family was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The family moved out immediately and got the faulty furnace fixed. When they moved back in the disturbing sights, sounds, and sensations stopped.
Although rare, the case of Mr. and Mrs. H’s haunted house was not unique. Hallucinations and illness are common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2005, a woman reported seeing a ghost in the shower. It was later found out that a water heater had been installed incorrectly, causing a gas leak. Similarly, journalist Carrie Poppy talks about how she was convinced her house was haunted. She later learned that she, too, had been suffering from a carbon monoxide gas leak. Learn more in her TED talk, A Scientific Approach to the Paranormal.