Got a haunted house on your hands? While we suggest bringing in the experts, like us, there is some degree of investigating you can do on your own safely and effectively. We’re here to help you help yourself!
Here are the basics from start to finish for your DIY investigation. Be sure to check out our DIY pro tips beforehand too!
Before Lights Out
Investigating a space requires some light preparation at the very least. Here are a couple things to take care of before you’re elbow deep in ectoplasm.
Research makes up the context and cause, so it’s incredibly important. Put in a couple weeks of in-depth research if you want to do things right. This means looking into the history of the property and land, noting the landscape markers (running water, electrical towers, cemeteries nearby, minerals in the earth, etc), inquiring with your landlord or the local archives, and doing anything you can to learn about the history and layout of the space (and surrounding areas) as a whole.
Reading our blogs is a great way to become an expert in the field really quickly, and we swear that’s not just a plug. We have done the research for you and presented so many subjects and aspects of investigating in layman’s terms you can understand. Getting some background knowledge in the field and best practices goes hand-in-hand with researching the location.
On the premise of keeping it simple and DIY, we won’t be unrealistic with what we expect you to have or obtain in terms of ‘paranormal’ equipment. Sometimes less is more anyway, so we suggest using at least one audio perceiver and one visual perceiver, along with something sensory (temperature, EMF, moisture, pressure, vibration, etc). Get yourself a simple recorder, like this one. A polaroid (or any film with negatives) and night camera are perfect for visual tools. An EMF detector, like this one, is also useful to use in corroboration with your other mediums.
Make sure you’re well stocked on batteries and have a flashlight for safety. Bonus tools include a tripod, motion detector, or EDI meter.
Finding out what the natural state of your space is will be crucial in detecting moments of variation. When the environment changes from its ‘default setting’, it could be a presence manifesting.
To do this, simply go around each room with your sensory detector (EMF/EDI/laser thermometer) and do a slow sweep from bottom to top, circling into the center of the room. Record any significant spots of variances in your notes. If there’s an area with, say, a spike in EMF, take a quick look around to see what could be causing it. Make note of the natural cause (be it an electrical box, a nearby appliance, or just a naturally intense spot in the atmosphere that’s consistently so).
Your house should be swept with the equipment from top to bottom thoroughly with detailed notes of any spikes. These will come in handy later during the events of your investigation.
During the Investigation
Now, of course, first things first: lights out! This is more for dramatic effect than function, but it does serve a purpose. In the dark, and during the nighttime, things are quieter, misleading shadows and reflections are less likely, equipment functions better in contrast (flash on dark), and we’re out of people’s way. That being said, if all your activity has been during the day, investigate during the day.
For safety, we recommend having one other person present. Too many people present can cause evidence contamination and intimidate spirits, while being alone can be a liability in case you face some kind of danger or hurt yourself while stumbling around in the dark.
Contain the Area
Typically, unless you live in a heavily gated property, you can’t control the outside like you can the inside. Containing your investigation to one area at a time (internal and external), will eliminate uncontrollable variables.
This means closing windows so the wind doesn’t confuse your audio recordings, and closing curtains so headlights don’t shine into the window casting spooky shadows. Lock your doors, check for drafts, and try your best to isolate your research area. Later, if you want to investigate outside, you can, ensuring that nothing inside your home/building can affect the environment outside within those same considerations.
Your equipment is sensitive and it’ll pick up all kinds of things other than ghosts. It’s likely not made to detect ghosts at all, and in fact will react more to running appliances like fridges and washing machines, even if they’re not actively on. EMF will be set off near your phone as well, so when you go lights out, make sure you go ‘power off and unplug’ too.
Remove Extra Bodies
Part of containing your inside space involves removing variables that can cause contamination. Too many people/animals means more footsteps, more voices, more breathing, etc. Your space should only include exactly who’s needed for the investigation, and no more. Send the kids and pets away for the night unless they’re an important trigger for the paranormal events in your experiences.
You’ll likely be maneuvering around in the dark, so move away any obstructions to your footpath, tape down cords, and use your camera to look for stairs/drops, etc. Make sure you’ve got a first aid kit handy and someone to help keep an eye out.
Observe the Environment
Spend the first little while just quietly observing. This is sort of part of base reading, but using your own senses rather than gadgets. Get a feel for what the dark looks like and what the silence sounds like in your home. Tuning into the natural state of the environment and camouflaging into it can present manifestations from shy entities and will help you to detect changes. Just like everyone’s home has its own smell, each one also has its own vibe.
Recognizing what normal feels like, will help you feel that tingle in your gut (and the air) when something ‘abnormal’ is happening. Also, the more quiet and focused you are, the more you’ll pick up on really subtle sounds and anomalies.
Each time something strange happens, be sure to investigate further. Using rational thinking, try to recreate the event and deduce what mundane things could have caused it – then test those theories out. Using critical thinking is the most important aspect of paranormal investigation. The scientific method’s 7 steps is a great foundation for your debunking process.
After the Sun Comes Up
After you’ve caught up on much-needed sleep, it’ll be time to review and reflect – and maybe pass the torch.
It doesn’t need to happen right away, but you should review soon enough after investigating that your memories of the events are still fresh, in order to compare timestamps with personal experiences and context.
For audio, we recommend free software like Audacity that’s super user-friendly and great for beginners! Be sure not to alter the original clip too much (and to always save a copy without any alterations). It will let you enhance and slow things down (along with many other cool features) to really pick up every detail.
Get a Second Opinion
Sometimes, you exhaust your personal resources and could use the help of a professional. Paranormal investigation teams are lucky enough to have pooled funding to help obtain more equipment and training, so that we can do a more thorough investigation with more chance of evidence capture. Having your initial investigation to reference is super helpful for us, so don’t feel like it’s all been for nothing if you don’t get the answers you need independently. We all need a little help sometimes.
We’re the pros and we don’t charge a penny! Get a second opinion (or a first one) at no cost. There’s nothing to lose – two heads are better than one!
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